Idol Worship

Todrick Hall Talks Turning His 15 Minutes of 'Idol' Fame Into a Career

american idol
Maarten de Boer/Getty Images

Todrick Hall photographed in 2015.

Getting told by Simon Cowell that you wouldn’t amount to anything beyond a Broadway actor was just the motivation Todrick Hall needed to kick-start his second act. Following his season eight rejection, the enterprising multi-hyphenate created a series of a viral videos dedicated to his favorite music acts. That led to a starring role in Virgin America’s earwormy safety film, his own MTV docuseries, Todrick, and a judging run on RuPaul’s Drag Race -- not to mention a side-gig choreographing for Beyoncé’s “Blow” and his outgoing message is recited by none other than Taylor Swift. Says the Texas native: “Like the yellow brick road, I was going to take it wherever it led me.”

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Don’t Follow the Pack
Hall looked to Idols past for what not to do. “To put out an EP or an album, so many finalists do that, and it didn't really work for them,” he says. “So I was, like, ‘What can I do to make people to notice me?’” His own YouTube channel, where Hall posted creative clips combining his singing and dancing skills with comedy and a hint of celebrity, did the trick, amassing more than 2 million subscribers.

Get Scooter Braun’s Attention
A parody of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast -- reimagined as if the princess landed in the hood -- released the same time at Justin Bieber’s 2012 single “Beauty and a Beat” got the attention of manager Scooter Braun, who clicked on it thinking the clip might detract from his client’s views. Instead, Braun sampled more of Hall’s work then invited him to a meeting during which, Hall recalls, “He said, ‘I think you're special and that we're meant to work together.’”

Use Your Platform Wisely and Never Get Complacent
Idol is very strong beginning, even if you get kicked off the first episode or you don't make it to the top 12, like me,” says Hall. “But people don't think about what they're going to do when they get off the show.” The key is to keep moving forward. “Every time one of my videos goes viral, I don’t sit back and relax and wait for someone to start knocking on my door. I immediately start on the next project and think, ‘What am I going to do to be different?’ I think every artist has to do that.” 

-- Reporting by Michele Amabile Angermiller