Exactly one year ago, Jessica Sanchez was living the life of any other ordinary American teenager, hanging out with her younger brothers playing video games.
That was before America got a good look at the now 17-year-old Chula Vista, Calif., native on American Idol. Since coming in second on the 11th season of the competitive singing show, Sanchez no longer has time for Wii. She’s too busy mixing it up with the likes of George Clooney, who shocked the demure singer at the 26th annual Carousel of Hope Ball.
“That was crazy,” shares Sanchez in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “I got really star struck. He is one of the biggest names, and when I walked up to him, he knew who I was already. I was freaking out. It was pretty amazing.”
Sanchez is drawing a ton of attention these days. She was a featured performer at this summer’s Democratic National Convention, and come January, is poised to gain a slew of new fans thanks to her recurring role on the Fox musical Glee.
“Everything is moving so fast, even after the show everything is like a big whirlwind,” said an enthusiastic Sanchez. “I’m very blessed and appreciative of everything that’s happened and I’m just working hard for more opportunities to come.”
So what do Glee co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have up their collective sleeves for Sanchez? We talked to the petite powerhouse about her future role, and asked her what she sees in the future for her still unnamed character. Plus, we got some new details about her Interscope Records debut, what it was like singing for the president of the United States, and a certain Season 11 singer that she says she misses the most.
The Hollywood Reporter: What can you tell us about Glee? Do you know anything about your role yet?
Jessica Sanchez: I guess Ryan Murphy talked about it a little bit more about the role I might be playing, but I really have nothing straightforward from him. I really have no idea.
THR: I think he spilled some details about you performing in a choir?
Sanchez: In a choir? I have no idea!
THR: Have you done any acting before?
Sanchez: No, I haven’t. This will be my first time! I can’t wait!
THR: How are you preparing?
Sanchez: I haven’t had a lot of time to watch Glee recently, but I’ve been studying up, and I am taking acting lessons. I’ve watched the show before in the past. I love the show. It’s an amazing production.
THR: Who are you most excited to work with? Do you know when you start filming?
Sanchez: January, I think! I am so excited to do scenes with everybody. I love Santana (Naya Rivera), though! That’s the girl I really want to meet and give a hug!
THR: You already took the stage with a Glee icon on Idol. We were there when you taped the song, “Enough is Enough” with Kristin Chenoweth for the Donna Summer tribute that never aired.
Sanchez: You saw that? I’m so glad, because they didn’t show it! I don’t know what happened, but that is what happens on a live TV show. That was so much fun, and the outfit I was wearing I was so excited about that because it was so cute. It was so much fun and she was so amazing to work with!
THR: Maybe Glee could lure Chenoweth back for a do-over!
Sanchez: That would be cool. She’s so spunky! I love it!
THR: You had some summer. What was it like watching democracy in action at the Democratic National Convention?
Sanchez: It was interesting! I can’t even vote yet. It was really fun seeing all that. At first I didn’t know what to expect, but everybody was going crazy and having fun. It was awesome.
THR: You looked like you had so much fun on the tour. In Philadelphia, the crowd went nuts when you did Ike and Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” (with her own “Ikettes” Josh Ledet and Deandre Brackensick).
Sanchez: “Proud Mary” was the best song for me to perform, because it was so much fun. That and “Party Rock” (LMFAO).The tour was amazing and it was even better to go international and go somewhere that was somewhat home for me in the Philippines. We spent 15 hours on a plane together! Everything was awesome and we all love each other so much and we miss each other right now, but I’m pretty sure we’ll all get together again sometime.
THR: And how is Deandre?
Sanchez: (Giggles) He’s good! We don’t really see each other that much anymore, but everything is good.
THR: Who are you most in touch with?
Sanchez: Everybody, and as you can tell mostly, Deandre! Besides him, mainly Josh and Hollie Cavanagh. Everyone is doing great and I’m so excited for everybody! Colton Dixon’s single just came out, and it’s doing really well. Phillip Phillips has been running around everywhere. I saw him not too long ago at a private Ford event, and he looks great, and he’s been on the road this whole time. He is really working hard. I am proud of him!
THR: Let’s talk about your debut album! Who are you working with?
Sanchez: I’ve been working with amazing people! Harvey Mason, Jr. (Whitney Houston, Pia Toscano, Jordin Sparks, Britney Spears, Toni Braxton, Jennifer Hudson), who has been one of my producers and Toby Gad (Fergie, Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson, Demi Lovato, One Direction), who has been amazing to work with. I have also been working with mainly Ester Dean (Dean is a co-writer of the Katy Perry hit, “Firework” and Clarkson’s “Mr. Know It All,” among her many credits). There are some other songwriters, too.
THR: Can you give us some details about the record’s direction? “Fairytale” was such a good song. Will that be on there?
Sanchez: Thank you! “Fairytale” is more like a poppy song, that I did, but the album will consist of many different sounds. It’s not stuck on ballads and stuff, but more like urban R&B. But it will still be soulful Jessica. I am going to stay true to what I did on the show, but also what I always wanted to do and who I really am.
THR: Do you have an idea of when it might come out?
Sanchez: I think a single will be ready in January, and the album will be out in March or April.
THR: Is that when you are going to perform on Idol?
Sanchez: I’m not sure yet, but I think it’s going to one of the first live shows.
THR: How about song titles?
Sanchez: We haven’t picked the songs yet, but there are a lot of good songs on there. I really can’t wait. I want everything to be a big surprise. I’m very eager. I want it to come out now.