You probably best remember Brooke White as the lovable and talented folk-pop singer-songwriter from American Idol season seven, winning you over every week with performances like “Let It Be” and “You’ve Got a Friend.” White is making her acting debut in the movie Change of Plans, which is apart of FOX’s Family Movie Night, airing this Saturday at 8 p.m.
White plays Sally Danville, a singer-songwriter married to fighter-pilot, Jason (Joe Flanigan). She learns that her best friend from college died while serving in the Peace Corps; on top of that, Sally also learns that she has been named the legal guardian of her friend’s four kids, three of whom were adopted from third-world countries. Sally and Jason have to adapt quickly into parenting, learning how a change of plans sometimes becomes something better than they could have imagined for their lives.
Earlier this week during a conference call, White and the movie’s soundtrack producer, American Idol judge Randy Jackson, discussed Change of Plans, the lack of hit songs coming from the Idol winners and former contestants, and what’s in store for the tenth season of American Idol.
White explained that she had not set out to do any acting in her post-Idol career, and the opportunity for the movie came out of nowhere. She said that she was “shipped off to Toronto” for filming within a couple days after being cast in Change of Plans. She was initially nervous on set, but was soon bit by the acting bug. The hardest part of her new gig? The wake-up calls.
“What can I say was the hardest part about acting? Probably my 4:30 a.m. pick up every day. That was probably the hardest part. I have to say, there were certain technical aspects I wasn’t super savvy to, but other than that it felt super natural just to get in,” she said.
“I think I was concerned [about memorizing lines]. I’ve been known to forget lyrics here or there. I was worried I would forget a line or two. But really, it wasn’t a big deal, you get in there, memorizing the dialogue isn’t a big deal when you get there. I thought it was more fun, than hard.”
White mentioned that she had just watched Change of Plans a couple days ago, and experienced what she called the “answering machine syndrome,” while listening to herself talk during the movie.
“I kind of had the answering machine syndrome, when you hear your voice back [wondering] I don’t sound like that, do I? Please don’t tell me that I sound like that,”
Along with Joe Flanigan and Randy Jackson, White got to work with Phylicia Rashad (The Cosby Show) on the movie.
“She’s like a queen. She’s regal and so refined. Obviously, legendary. But, she couldn’t have been more warm. She would sit me down and just talk to me about the business. She’s not just an actress, you know, she’s a real performer on many levels. I really connected with her. And, she’s hilarious. She’s got a great sense of humor. I can’t believe on my fist acting gig got to work with Phylicia Rashad,” White said of her co-star.
Record producer and American Idol judge, Jackson produced the “very cool soundtrack” to Change of Plans. The soundtrack features White, who co-wrote and sings three of the songs, another Idol season seven alumni, Michael Johns (who co-wrote a song with White), and The Canyons.
This isn’t the first time the White and Jackson have teamed up on a project together. They worked together on White’s post-Idol debut album, High Hopes and Heartbreak.
White explained, “I would never have anticipated standing on the Idol stage or post-Idol, that I would be working with Randy; I just didn’t foresee it. Things just happen in a strange way. He has been a major player and supporter of my post-Idol life. It is very difficult to survive and to stay present after Idol. The trick is becoming an artist.”
Jackson said that he loved White since day one of her season on Idol, and that she has definitely grown as an artist in her career.
“What I look for the most, is when people exit the show, how well did they do after and how did they sustain their career. Brooke has definitely grown as a writer, as a singer, and as a performer. I think she’s leaps and bounds from where she was on Idol. It’s just amazing. That’s a true mark of a real artist. How they grow over time,” he said.
“I’m not much on the pop star thing. That’s never been my thing. I’ve been having a fortunate career all my life, almost 30 years now working now with real artists, as opposed to the pop stars. The difference is that artists have long careers, pop stars have the flash in the pan. They’re hot this year, lukewarm the next year, then forgotten three years later. Brooke is really that artist, that’s what I love. She’s talented.”
White discussed how things have changed from the days of having three TV channels and only AM/FM radio, and why Change of Plans was a great opportunity for her.
“I think you can’t live in the denial that things are going to be back to the way they were. It’s just a different climate musically and entertainment-wise. That’s why we decide to become more multi-faceted. I considered myself a serious artist, not really looking to act, and then when this opportunity came it was like, well you never know unless you try. This was a perfect opportunity, it wasn’t like I had to leave music behind. It was an integral part of the film and of the character. It just made so much sense,” she said.
The discussion switched gears a little bit, and Jackson addressed why in last few seasons Idol winners and runner-ups have not been hitting Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood platinum status with their records. He says that it all comes down to a great song.
He explained, “For any successful artist, success is based off of is one simple thing, songs. Not just songs, great songs. Hit songs and a great record. We can attribute the fact that some of these Idols that have won or came in [second] that didn’t do well look at those records and probably say they may have thought that these were great records. But, the public didn’t think so. Therefore the public didn’t show up and didn’t buy it. If we were selling salt and the public didn’t like it, they wouldn’t buy it, so it wouldn’t be a success. It’s really about the records, it’s not about what the show does.”
“I always tell people, I don’t care where you find the song, I don’t care who writes it, find the best song you can get. That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day. When it comes out, people are going to like it or not. They won’t care who produced, who wrote, what the label is, or what show it came from.”
White agreed with Jackson, saying that one of the hardest things post-Idol is to compete with a version of yourself that sang great songs on the show.
“There’s a familiarity factor. It’s difficult, it’s not easy. There’s a magic that happens when you get a great song, and it doesn’t happen everyday and you’re lucky if you even get to have one or write a few,” she said.
Speaking of a certain show that about begin it’s tenth season, Jackson talked a little about the new season and about new faces at the judges’ table.
“I think Idol is going to really, really do well this year. The addition of Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez has added a different kind of zest and a freshness to it. I’ve been calling it, ‘Idol season 10: The Remix’ I think people will be surprised,”
As far as Jackson’s role on the show, he says that we’ll be seeing a different side of the “Dawg.”
“I think you’ll see a little bit more of an assertive role and trying to guide it a little bit. I don’t think I’ve stepped into Simon Cowell’s shoes. I don’t think those shoes can be filled,” he said.
Jackson said that Tyler is very funny, and he described Lopez as, “loving.”
He mentioned that a lot of the rumored changes to the show haven’t been confirmed, and there will be some different about the middle rounds of the audition process.
“I think the biggest changes you will see are probably to the middle rounds. It’s still the show that you know. It’s still the show that you love. It’s not being changed that much,” he said.
Jackson said that he believes we’re all in for an interesting season, and that there is talent on both sides of the guy/girl spectrum. However, he thinks that in the end it’s going to be a girl’s season to lose.
White had some advice for the Idol season 10 hopefuls. Stay away from Google.
“Don’t Google your own name. That’s what I say. Be you, don’t Google, and work hard.”
Change of Plans starring Brooke White airs Saturday, January 8 at 8 p.m. on FOX.
American Idol returns Wednesday, January 19 on FOX.