When Pia Toscano left American Idol last year, a nation of dedicated viewers were shocked. As a judge favorite from the beginning, many expected her to continue to the finals, but instead she was voted off and placed ninth. Regardless, Pia had quickly become a household name and left behind her career as a wedding singer. This series of ups and downs has continued for Toscano since, with roles in Glee being written for her, and then taken away, and a record deal signing, that then fell apart. But, it now seems that 2013 will finally be the time when Pia can take back that carrot that Hollywood has been dangling in front of her. With a new album on a new record label, a role in a new movie, and offers coming in from every direction, Toscano may finally be getting a real chance. Francesca Nicol recently caught up with Pia to found out how her life has been changing. You'll be singing the national anthem at the NFL international series in London in October which is very exciting; will you be playing any other dates in Europe? I will just be singing the National Anthem for this trip. Hopefully soon I will get the chance to return and perform some songs from my upcoming album.
Do you have any favorite places to travel? On tour we got to see some pretty cool places, I loved traveling to Manila. The Filipino culture is very kind and very appreciative of our music.
Your role in Grace Unplugged was your first ever acting job, how did you prepare for such a transition? My role in Grace Unplugged was small, and I am glad it was because it was a great starting point for me. Acting in an audition and memorizing lines is very different from being in the moment and making that come to life with the other actor. My scene was with the incredible Kevin Pollak. I was so nervous at first, but Kevin really put me at ease. He was very nurturing and I learned as we went along.
The character of Alyssa was written for you, and was loosely based on you, what similarities can viewers see between you and Alyssa? I don’t want to give too much of the story away so you’ll just have to wait and see but I’m honored that my story was inspiring to them and that it’s played a part in someone’s creative process – I hope I can continue to inspire people creatively.
What kind of experience was it? Will you be doing any more acting in the future? Grace Unplugged was the most amazing experience for me. For my first film, I couldn't have asked for a better start and group of people to work with. At first, I was a little intimidated being around such accomplished actors but everyone just made me feel so comfortable. After my album is complete, I would love to start taking acting classes and audition for more roles.
Your new album has long been in the works, what can fans expect from it? The album I am creating now finally feels like "ME." The timing is right, my team is incredible, and I just couldn't be happier. The album is going to be powerful, anthemic, and fun.
Who are some of your favorite artists? Can we feel any influence from these in your sound? I love those big ol' voices that give you instant chills like Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, Sia, Beyonce and I love the edge Rihanna has. You'll definitely feel some influences from these artists, but we are creating "my" sound for this album.
Your career has seen some trials and tribulations, how do you manage to stay positive, and push further? Without the trials and tribulations there is no story to tell. For me, the more "No"s I hear the more I want to work even harder to prove those people wrong and show them what I am capable of. Also, it helps you to grow as an artist and makes you a stronger person. The right timing is everything to me. So I feel if something isn't working out, it's not God's plan for me, or he as something better in mind.
What is something that never fails to perk you up? Sometimes when I am down my mom sends me pictures of my dog Chloe with cute little captions and it makes me smile. Also, my best friend Cassie never fails at making me laugh. She is my rock.
What little things inspire you? Everything around me inspires me. Music first and foremost. The hard workers around me, my family and friends, especially my sister. Constructive criticism inspires me to better myself.
What are your goals for 2013? I see great things for 2013. The number 13 is very special and symbolic for me because it is my connection to my Grandpa Jay. My goals are to continue to work really hard on my music, to keep raising the bar, to tour, travel to places I've never been, to take more risks and to be fearless.
What are some of your long term dreams in life? What would be your, 'I've made it' moment? That moment for me would be singing the national anthem for the Super Bowl and winning a Grammy.
When you have days off, how do you spend your time? Do you have any hobbies or pastimes? When I have days off I like to relax. I like to go to nice quiet dinners and the movies. I love the sun and luckily I have a really nice pool area so when I have a day off I usually chill there.
What is something you make sure to do everyday? Something I make sure I do everyday is smile... and talk to my family.
Photographed by Vince Trupsin Interviewed by Francesca Nicol