'Idol' Star Allison Iraheta on Scoring a Backup-Singing Gig on the Show

AP Photo/Matt Sayles
Allison Iraheta at American Idol finale in 2011.

Only one finalist in the history of American Idol has returned to the show as a paid member of the production staff: season eight alum Allison Iraheta, who joined the crew in season 13 as a backing vocalist for musical director Rickey Minor. Now on her third year positioned side-stage, the magenta-tressed singer reveals how she’s happy making a living, even if the show promises to make you a star.

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It Really Is Who You Know
It may be a Hollywood cliché but it’s true. “I was lucky -- having a relationship with Rickey Minor, you could say I had an ‘in,’” says Iraheta. “He saved my life. I was starting to work on my band [Halo Circus], but there was no income coming in. So I called Rickey to see if he had any ideas. I told him, ‘I need help; I can’t pay rent.’ Networking is a very important thing in this industry. You have to go to people and be in their presence. You’re subliminally putting yourself in their brain.”

Work Well With Others
As a contestant, Iraheta says it was all about getting people to pay attention to her. “Being on the other side now, I’ve had to learn that when you’re needed, you show up. When you’re not, conserve your energy and spend your time getting your [stuff] together. You’ve got to be out of the way because everyone else has a role. You respect those people around you because they are just as important or more important than you.” 

'American Idol' Alum Allison Iraheta's Band Halo Circus Teams Up With RoadNation for Crowdsourced Tour

Bring Your A-Game
Working at Idol is like “a family that won’t accept anything less than great,” says Iraheta. “They wont allow a ‘C.’ They want an ‘A.’ I couldn’t have asked for a better job. It’s such an honor to be back on the last season.” 

-- Reporting by Fred Bronson