American Idol’s Just Sam Talks Night That Forever Changed Contestants and Fate of Her Lucky Tip Box

ABC’s American Idol favorite Just Sam talks about making history while filming during quarantine, a night that forever changed the contestants, her family bond with Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan…and what she plans on doing with her lucky tip box

Lisa Masi

AfterBuzz TV Host & Writer
Posted On: May 12th, 2020 9:39 pm pst

Maria Menounos
Keven Undergaro
AfterBuzz TV Founders

Founded by Emmy winning journalist Maria Menounos and Producer Keven Undergaro, AfterBuzz TV is the artist-friendly entertainment news platform that celebrates, discusses, interviews, promotes and reports on the widest range of stars, creators and content through video, audio and article publications.

ABTV Loves American Idol: Just Sam

In just a matter of days, we’ll discover who the next American Idol will be, and Sunday we were fortunate to have the incredible finalist, Just Sam, join us on AfterBuzz TV ‘s American Idol After Show! We laughed, we cried, and we got an inside look at what the contestants are going through during this history making remote season!

Just Sam has been an AfterBuzz favorite since the very beginning at her audition, when “Papa Lionel” Richie gave her a hug and let her know that she can feel safe with him, Auntie Katy (Perry), and Uncle Luke (Bryan).

We have been fans of Sam since then and, after getting to chat with her, we love her even more! Anyone who watches American Idol knows that Sam can sing, but her effervescent personality, and warm, genuine spirit, make you want to be her friend, too.

And I don’t know if people realize this, but she is funny! She had us smiling and laughing throughout the show!

She is an open book, and that honesty about her life and struggles allows her to share her story to help others. Her continual perseverance through adversity while never giving up, is something that moves us all.

Besides doing it for her incredible grandmother, Miss Elizabeth, who raised Sam and her sister, Sam is passionate about being a role model to others.

She wants to inspire people who are struggling to not give up on their dreams. Sam often says, “If I can do it, they can do it too.”

Speaking of overcoming adversity, we talked with her about what it was like when suddenly, mid-season, the coronavirus pandemic broke out and everything in life and with the show changed. Live shows had to now figure out how to continue filming remotely, and American Idol was one of the first to tackle this challenge. 

About the groundbreaking changes Sam said, “This is making history, and we’re a part of that. Which is a big deal.”

She said the contestants weren’t sure how the new format would look, but that it turned out even better than they had expected. “It’s beautiful,” she said.

However, Sam did state that filming remotely does have its challenges. “This is more than just American Idol at home. I’m telling you, this is like boot camp for singers. This is like, ‘So you wanna be a singer’”, Sam laughed.

She shared, “It’s super tough. We barely sleep. But it’s worth it. We’re doing production’s job. We’re doing the stylist’s job. We’re doing everyone’s job right now and also our own.”

She explained the challenges she faced, having had to learn to set up her own filming equipment and lighting. “I know how to put together some lights now!” she said, referring to how the contestants are sent a box with pieces to assemble themselves.”

“I broke a couple bulbs!” she laughed.

She also talked about the genuine life-long friendships that she has formed not only with “Papa Lionel” Richie and the other judges, but also with her fellow contestants. “We’re just a family now, especially after Hawaii. We got to sing with each other, go out to eat, just hang out.”

She opened up to us about one night in particular, that forever bonded the contestants. “We sat in a hotel room and just talked about our lives after the show aired in February. We all cried. That moment in that room was so crazy.”

She said one minute they were playing games like Uno and the next thing she knows, “Everybody is crying, going in a circle telling some part of their story.”

She was shocked to learn what many of her friends had gone through in their lives. 

“You hear their story and you are like ‘oh my gosh you went through that?’ You would never know the stories that are behind those smiles,” Sam said. 

“It was beautiful and brought us together. Really Close.”

When asked how hard it’s been to be away from her Idol family during quarantine, she said she missed them badly, “But we do try to keep in touch as often as we can through text, and we do try to call each other as often as possible. We are family. No matter what anybody says. We don’t look alike, but we are family.”

Sam also shared with us that she feels that she no longer has a need for her lucky tip box, the box that she would use when she was busking on the subway in New York. She had brought it with her and set it on stage for luck during one of her Hollywood week performances. 

After that performance, judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie walked on stage and put money in the box, which moved her to tears. “They put money in that box. I was using that box thinking that I was needing the luck, and I really didn’t need the luck.”

When asked what Sam intends to do with the box, she revealed to us that she had contemplated burning it. She said, “I don’t need this anymore. The memories were still there. I just felt like burning it would be good for me.”

However, when an eliminated contestant accidentally took the box back home with her, Sam saw that as a sign. When she does get it back, she won’t burn it, rather she will keep it as a reminder of how far she’s come. 

Make sure to tune into the season finale of American Idol Sunday May 17th, 8/7c on ABC to see if Just Sam wins it all!  Check out our full conversation here:

If you love Just Sam and American Idol, share this article with a friend. Tune in daily to AfterbuzzTV articles and after-shows for the latest news and info.

About The Author:

Lisa Masi is a host and writer for AfterBuzz TV. She is an off-the-beaten path adventurer and music enthusiast. One of her greatest passions is music history, and she loves visiting places where icons from the past have performed and recorded.

Founded by Emmy winning journalist Maria Menounos and Producer Keven Undergaro, artist-friendly AfterBuzz TV is the world’s largest digital broadcast network and pop culture news platform, producing post-game ‘after-shows’ for nearly all favorite TV shows, interviewing cast and showrunners and providing the widest video, audio and article coverage of shows, content and influencers than any entertainment news platforms in existence

“We don’t just celebrate and cover the top shows, content and stars, we celebrate and cover ALL the shows, content and stars.”

Maria Menounos

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