Lyndsey Parker·Editor in Chief, Yahoo Music | This Is Us, which returns for a fifth season this week, turned Chrissy Metz into an overnight TV star four years ago. But the Emmy-nominated actress, who plays aspiring singer Kate Pearson on the NBC drama and is currently working her real-life debut country album in Nashville, almost ended up on an entirely different hit television show. And if she’d made the cut, her life and career could have taken a very different path. As it turned out, it all worked out for the best that Metz was rejected by American Idol when she auditioned back in 2007.
“I do think that they were trying to pull something out of me and make some great TV, and rightfully so — they’re producers, and they know what they’re doing,” Metz tells Yahoo Entertainment/SiriusXM Volume while promoting her recent single, the fittingly titled “Actress.” While Metz describes her Season 6 Idol audition as “really exciting” and a “really cool experience,” she acknowledges the possibility that the talent show’s creative editing and typecasting could have hurt her long-term career.
“I was married at the time, and my husband was so, so kind to go with me and sit for hours and hours at the San Diego Chargers stadium in the sun. I got third-degree sunburn on my legs, just hanging out, just being patient enough to even audition,” Metz recalls. “And then, when it’s your turn, there’s like five people in five rows, and you get about 30 seconds to sing or try to show what you’re capable of.” Metz sang “Heavy” from the Dreamgirls, which she now realizes wasn’t the best choice. (“Don’t ask me why, aside from it being a wonderful musical — it’s not a little song!”) But still, she was so shocked by the apathetic reaction from the audition-screener that day that she spontaneously protested.
“The guy was like, ‘OK, great, thank you all for coming down here, but it’s just not what we’re looking for this year.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, really? None of us? That’s interesting.’ And then I said, ‘I kind of disagree with you.’ I don’t know where the hell that came from, because that’s not personally who I am, especially when it comes to that! I don’t know why I said that,” Metz chuckles. “I just felt like all these people had waited for so long, and surely one of the five of us [was good enough]! Anyway, there were two women in the next tent over who were like, ‘What is going on over there? What’s happening?’ And they came over and asked what happened. … And I’m sure they were thinking, ‘Oh, she’s going to be a hoot or a mess, so let’s have her audition again.’ So they said, ‘Well, sing for us.’ And I sang again. And they gave me a ticket to go through.”
That Golden Ticket advanced Metz to the round right before Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson, and she sang this time for executive producers Nigel Lythgoe and Simon Fuller.
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Metz says she has “about six songs” completed, and she hopes that her album — recorded on her own terms, telling her own stories, with the help of Nashville heavy-hitters like Ashley McBride, Derek Wells, Jimmy Robbins, Nicolette Hayford*, and Lainey Wilson — will be out by the year’s end. The 40-year-old actress says the record’s release will be the fulfillment of a lifelong goal. And she acknowledges the fact that being on an emotional television show — after her American Idol experience — helped make this dream come true is more than a little ironic.
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