Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


FAU High student heads to Hollywood for American Idol: Q&A with Victoria Johnson

Victoria Johnson, a Florida Atlantic University high school student, received a golden ticket to Hollywood during the American Idol competition.
Courtesy of Victoria Johnson
Johnson with her golden ticket that Bryan’s dog chewed up.

Victoria Johnson, an 11th-grade student in the dual enrollment program at FAU High School, made it to the top 56 contestants in Season 22 of American Idol, a televised singing competition. 

With years of singing experience at sporting events in Florida, Johnson auditioned in Nashville, Tennessee. There, she performed Meghan Trainor’s “No Excuses.”

After receiving “yes” votes from celebrity judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie, Johnson received a golden ticket to advance to the next stage, “Hollywood Week.” Johnson said she was one of 150 out of 60,000 participants who acquired a golden ticket.

According to the Palm Beach Post, the Season 22 judges made the largest cut in the show’s history, eliminating 87 singers in the “Hollywood Week” episode. Johnson survived the round, but her performance did not air. In the following “Showstoppers” performances, the 56 remaining musicians performed. The judges then selected the top 24 contestants — with Johnson not making the cut.

This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.

How did you land your audition on American Idol?

I got an email from the producers. They must have seen me on TikTok, Instagram or some other social media platform. They reached out to me and asked if I was interested in the new season. At first, I thought it was a scam. I didn’t know that American Idol recruits people, but it was very real. I hopped on Zooms [calls for pre-screening auditions] with them and went in front of the judges [at the auditions]. I still can’t even believe that it happened. As soon as I walked out of the room, I forgot what happened because it was so crazy. 

Luke Bryan’s dog delivers a golden ticket to contestant Johnson. (Courtesy of Victoria Johnson)

What were your experiences in Hollywood, surrounded by other contestants and celebrity judges?

You would think that all the people would be so competitive there, but everyone is so supportive. It was a great experience, as you’re surrounded by all these people who love music as much as you do. You’re learning from all these talented artists and, in front of a camera, learning to pick songs that show vocals and emotions all in one minute and 30 seconds to make the cut for TV.

You only see the judges when you perform in front of them. You think we’re with them all day on set, but they just come in, judge you, and then go.

What was the experience of transitioning from being a student to working in television?

We were on spring break during Hollywood week, filming for 10 hours or more daily. Because I am a minor, they had me do the required school hours. I just did puzzles the whole time because I didn’t have any schoolwork to do. Assistant Principal Hallstrom at FAU High has been very supportive and helped get my absence notes for my classes. I am taking all my classes online this semester because of Idol, because I was going back and forth with filming. 

Following your elimination from the show, what are your intended goals? 

I study criminal justice at [FAU]. Many people would think I study music, but you don’t need a degree to sing — so I wanted to focus on something else. But, I want to pursue music and share my gift of music with the world. Many people have noticed that I have been on American Idol, which helped me gain traction by putting my face and name on TV. I’ve known for a while [of being eliminated from the show] since we filmed everything long ago. I’ve already lived and experienced everything you’re seeing on TV, so now it’s time for everyone to know. 

Gavin Grimaldi is a contributing writer for the University Press. For more information on this or other stories, email [email protected].

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