At age 17, Jordin Sparks was crowned the youngest-ever American Idol winner, earning votes with her amazing voice and dynamic personality. With her self-titled debut album, Jordin is ready to show the world that she’s here to stay! Recently, IML got the chance to talk to Jordin, and we found out that she’s just as sweet, smart, and down-to-earth as she seems.
IML: First of all, congrats on the album! Is there a particular song that has special meaning for you right now?
Jordin: I guess there are two songs that really stick out for me. First there’s “Freeze,” which is one of the songs that I co-wrote. It’s basically just about freezing the moment and trying to soak in all the details and trying to remember moments that probably won’t happen again. It doesn’t apply more to my life than right now because everything is going by so fast. I can’t even remember some of the stuff that I’ve done recently! And then there’s a song called “God loves Ugly.” It’s just about loving yourself no matter what. Even if you have a blemish, even if you don’t like the way you look, there’s always that one person who’s going to love you for you no matter what. I think that song will make a huge impact once people hear it.
IML: Most IML'ers are in middle school, so we have to ask: What were you like back then?
Jordin: Well…I had braces and I had to wear headgear! I loved my braces, actually. For me, they were like a piece of jewelry! Instead of the silver or pewter I had gold braces. It was so much fun, I loved them. I got to change the colors and stuff and I had the rubber bands.
Middle school is crazy because there are cliques and fights and all that, and you get excited because you have crushes. It's a really crazy, crazy time. It was even harder for me, because I had gone to a Christian school for a really long time -- they had a nursery so from when I was like six months old until the beginning of 8th grade -- and then I switched to a public school. And I was really, really sad because I wanted to go back to my old school and be with my old friends. I was just in that rebel mode, like “I hate everyone! I hate the world!” That was for about the first half of 8th grade, and then I thought, “This is so dumb!” So I went back to being myself again, just happy and whatever. I knew I couldn't change the situation by hating the world, that wasn't going to help. I got over the fact that I wasn't going back to my old school, then once I did that I made new friends. It definitely turned out for the better because I could do a lot more things at my new school.
IML: I think a lot of young people became your fans because you don't look like the “typical” teen star, and they could really relate to you. Do you feel there's too much pressure in the media to look a certain way?
Jordin: I definitely feel that there is. But for me, it's kind of like, why would I want to change myself when being myself has gotten me this far? I don't know why I would want to change now! But there definitely is pressure out there to look a certain way and act a certain way and do certain things.
IML: So how do you hang on to who you are in the face of all that pressure, especially when working with stylists and other people who may want you to fit into a mold?
Jordin: I'm kind of stubborn about that, because I know what I want to portray, I know what I want to look like. I don't want to look trashy. I want mothers to be able to look at me and not have to close their kids' eyes! I've always been that way. I have to keep my parents with me and my brother and my friends, because they see me exactly the same as they always have. I haven't changed; it's just the things around me that have changed. It's cool to have parents and family who will always tell me the truth no matter what. They'll tell me if I'm doing something stupid!
IML: The first time you auditioned for American Idol, you got turned down. How did you get up the courage to audition again?
Jordin: I guess I always had the courage to audition again when they told me no and that I wasn't getting through. It wasn't like the end of the world for me. I was just like, “Oh, I'll try again next year” or “I guess something else has to happen” or “Maybe American Idol isn't the route I'm supposed to take.” It wasn't disastrous for me. Yeah, I was disappointed, but it was okay. So I went home and I still wanted to continue singing whether I'd made American Idol or not, and my mom was like, “Arizona Idol is going on, wanna try?” I said, “Sure, I don't have anything to lose.” So I went and did that, and I won, and they sent me to Seattle. I was one of the first people to audition in Seattle the rest is history, I guess. The way I see it is this: in the end, giving up is a lot harder than just trying again.
IML: That's a great attitude! You seem to have so much confidence and sense of yourself at such a young age. What's your advice to young people who are struggling to feel good about themselves?
Jordin: I guess I would just have to say that if you're struggling, that's okay, because everyone goes through it. There is not a person in the world who can say they've never had trouble looking in the mirror or hating being themselves. It's okay, and it's normal. And you don't have to worry because things will get better. Try to just love yourself for you and who you are, and people will love you once that gets started. Because once you start to love yourself, there's kind of a light around you that people see. Even if it's just the tiniest bit of confidence, people may be like, “Wow, they're kind of different,” they'll want to get to know you. So really, just try being yourself, as hard as that may sound; it's definitely easier said than done. Just keep trying!
IML: We asked our Tween Advisory Board to suggest questions for you. This one's from Emma, 10, who asks: Do you consider yourself a competitive person?
Jordin: I do consider myself a competitive person, but I'm not competitive to the point where I will do anything to win. I wouldn't step on somebody just to get to the next level. I would have to do it fair and square. I'm kind of competitive in a way to where I like to figure out things myself, and if I need help, I'll ask. But I think being competitive is really good because it shows you that you can't win all the time. There are going to be times when somebody says no or you won't be the best, and it makes me strive to be better. So I definitely think a little competition is good!
IML: That's a healthy outlook! Thanks, Jordin, and good luck with everything!
Jordin: Thank you!
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