Cover Photo Credit: Guy Guido (www.guyguido.com)
If our January 2012 cover model looks familiar it’s because you may remember Ms. Kimberley Locke from her time on American Idol. During season 2, this relatable curvy beauty lit up the stage with her talent and southern charm. She would eventually come in third place behind Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken.
For the last nine years Kimberley has stayed busy by releasing new music, working with non profit organizations and using her voice to inspire a nation of fans. Scheduled to join the cast of ABC’s The Revolution, Kimberley received news in the final hour that she would not be a part of the group of co-hosts. Instead of letting this news get her down, she’s already planning her next move.
Stephanie Danforth: We officially met you when you appeared on American Idol. How has your life evolved since appearing on the show?
Kimberley Locke: Life is great! American Idol definitely changes the course of your life. It was very exciting and I had a lot of opportunities that I did not expect to have in addition to singing and it has been a great nine years. A busy nine years.
Busy is always good
How do you feel about the changes on American Idol recently with the addition of new judges?
I think they did a really good job with the new judges. I love J. Lo, she’s very likable. Steven Tyler is just a barrel of fun. Having Randy there as one of the original judges to anchor was a really great move. They did a really great job at selecting the new judges.
They do have a great dynamic between the three of them. How do you feel about other reality based singing competitions like X Factor?
I think that each of them bring their own thing but American Idol is the original. It’s hard to argue that point. American Idol does such a great job of capturing the essence of a true talent show. America needed a family show that they could sit down and watch with the whole family. I think American Idol does a very good job of that. It’s really nice when you meet people (especially parents) who say, “Oh my gosh, my entire family watches you” or “my mom loves you”. I mean it crossed so many generations.
Since leaving American Idol, we’ve heard sing uptempo songs as well as ballads. Of the two, which do you prefer?
Which do I prefer? That’s a really good question. I don’t know that I necessarily have a preference of genres. I think when I left American Idol I wanted to avoid being pigeon holed in any particular genre of music. I think a great song is a great song. Whether it’s a country song, R & B song, pop song it doesn’t matter so I always try to keep my mind open to all types of music.
Growing up, I didn’t just listen to one type of music. I think with a lot of artists, the influence comes from all over. I started singing contemporary music after American Idol, before A.I. I sang Jazz and Neo-soul. Coming from that background and going into pop music and then crossing over to dance I wouldn’t really have it any other way because I get to experience so many different genres.
Speaking of dance music, tell me about your new album “Four For The Floor.”
“Four For The Floor” is the latest EP. It has four dance songs on it that I co-wrote and I was involved with it from the very beginning to the very end. It’s my baby project. It’s my first independent project that I released under my company, I Am Entertainment and I’m really proud of that. The people who worked with me on it, from the writers to the producers, from my stylists to my photographers, all played a part in it. It was a passion project. It was nice to really watch it come to life. I’m very proud of it.
My last dance song “Strobelight” charted on the dance charts so I figured I would stay in the same lane and see if I could do it again.
Congratulations on venturing out on your own and doing your own thing. I think making your own path versus being led by someone else is what sets a lot of artists apart from one another.
I know you were supposed to be one of co-hosts on ABC’s new show “The Revolution” but they’ve decided to go a different route. How did them changing their decision impact you?
Anytime you sign up for a television show, it’s not done until it’s done. When I first started working on the project I was very excited and for the two days that we filmed and shot the pilot, I felt like I was doing my dream job. I felt like having that experience validated that I love doing this and I really enjoyed it and that I could do it. So it was a great way for me to get experience and to really see what it would be like to have my own show.
Of course it was disappointing when they decided to go a different direction but I can’t take it personally. I’ve worked with some really great people in this industry and to even be considered by ABC was great! To have them say “we think you’re talented and we really think you could do this” was great. It’s a bittersweet type of situation. I love the show. I love the shows concept and that’s why I was so excited to be attached to it.
The Revolution is similar to my journey. I’ve been on my own journey of growth and weight loss and nutrition and I was really looking forward to helping other women discover their own journey too and letting them know that it doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t change overnight. It really is a process. I was looking for another way that I could give women that type of support. Hopefully the Revolution is able to do that and I will find another way to help women.
Why do you think women identify with you?
I believe that when a lot of women look at me the identified with me when I was on American Idol. I was the heavier girl. After American Idol I did Celebrity Fit Club, Jenny Craig and I also worked with Lane Bryant. Women embraced me at my heaviest and they embraced me when I decided to make health and lifestyle changes. That is something that is very close to me.
Since you are a curvier celebrity, what types of obstacles have you faced because of your size?
I’m sure there have been some obstacles that maybe I just didn’t see. I don’t walk around wearing a badge saying, “I’m the heavy girl”. I love myself. I love my body. I try not to get too caught up in the image of it all. I believe there is space for everyone.
My industry is brutal when it comes to weight loss, size and body image. I think my purpose and my mission during my career is to help women embrace where they are in their life and on their journey and for them to be the best person they can be in this moment without letting your weight be a constant burden.
If anything it’s made me work harder to not validate the stigma and to show the world that curvy women can be in this industry and be successful as the size zero. We’re just that good, we’re equal.
That’s a good message that our readers can relate to. We believe that whether you’re a size 2 or 22, do the things necessary to reach your goals and make you happy while feeling good about the skin you’re in.
In 2012 one of the things I want to do is really speak to women and let them know that they can overcome and they don’t have to wait to lose weight to pursue their dreams and goals. That woman is the same woman whether she is 20 or 50 pounds overweight. You can still accomplish your dreams. I believe that confidence builds self-esteem. When you have that confidence of chasing after your dreams and being successful you can take control of your life, health and everything doesn’t hinge off your weight.
Speaking of dreams, if you weren’t an entertainer, what would you be doing?
I was headed to law school so I thought that I was going to be a lawyer. Now that I’ve been doing this [singing professionally] for nine years one thing that has become important to me is charitable organizations and spreading the word about organizations who need the assistance. One organization I’ve been working with is One Heartland. I’ve been working with them for seven years and this is my second year being on the board. It’s been a lot of fun and I’ve gotten to meet a lot of great people and work with some really great causes. That would be something that I would like to continue to do. Help organizations gain visibility and help with getting their names out there.
Why is it important for you to use your voice to assist organizations like One Heartland?
Being in the entertainment industry, we’re fortunate in so many ways. Being a celebrity you can do a lot of good with your name or by attaching your image to something. I think that’s very valuable to an organization that’s trying to spread the word. Celebrities can help organizations reach groups of people that they normally wouldn’t reach. I believe in the greater good of people. People want to do good. If they see their favorite celebrity out there supporting a charity like One Heartland, they’re going to at least check it out. A lot of organizations just need the word to spread. There is no better marketing than word of mouth.
What goals do you want to reach in 2012 and beyond?
For 2012 one of my main goals is motivational speaking and setting myself up to be a good role model. To also be a voice by helping women who have low self-esteem who just need a pep talk, a push or who just need to be motivated. To remind women that what’s on the outside doesn’t determine what’s on the inside and what’s on the inside really matters the most. Life is a journey and we’re all growing. For 2012 that’s one of my big things.
I want to get into public speaking because it all ties into my music. Whether I’m singing or speaking, I feel like I can help people through difficult times.
For more information on Kimberley’s work One Heartland visit www.oneheartland.org