Coronavirus hit the entertainment world hard with mass shutdowns on production. However, the singing competition, “America Idol” was able to pivot to virtual episodes to conclude the rest of the season.
On Sunday, the show aired its season finale and crowned contestant Samantha Diaz, better known as “Just Sam” — a Harlem native — as their first-ever “at-home” winner for their third ABC season.
The 21-year-old singer rejoiced in her historic moment telling host Ryan Seacrest, “My dreams have come true — Thank you America — I would have never, ever, ever expected this.”
From a subway singer to a nationally-known star, Just Sam has become a fan favorite on the show this season. She wowed judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan during her initial audition in New York.
Growing up in New York City Housing Authority, Just Sam came from humble beginnings. 1010 Wins News reported that she was accustomed to living in poverty.
“We never got what we wanted just what we needed. Like one pair of sneakers … but we were grateful just to get anything new,” she said.
Now as a public figure, Just Sam is ready to take on everything that comes with her newfound fame, taking pride in where she comes from.
“I messed up a lot,” she shared. “I lived a trial and error life, I’m not perfect. If it comes out it comes out. I’m a child of God now – I’m not afraid of it.”
The show’s quarantined production started a new tradition. Contestants were abruptly sent home during the Top 20 phase of the competition and participated remotely to finish out the show.
In an interview with Good Housekeeping, Just Sam joked about the adjustments to being on the show from home.
“It’s super tough. We [the contestants] 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,” Just Sam said.
Just Sam joins the likes of many crowned American Idol stars such as Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Jordin Sparks, and more. As the winner, she’ll have a chance to release her final song performed live as a single.