A Georgia Peach in the Big Apple-DIANA DEGARMO

JukeboxpicI first met the charming Diana DeGarmo at a charity fundraiser a couple of years ago in Atlanta. She performed, belting out notes that nearly shattered glass. I caught up with Diana in New York where she's starring in an off-broadway play titled The Toxic Avenger. This particular afternoon, all was low key and casual including our interview. We met for lunch. Burgers, sandwiches and lots of fries, at a cool little spot called Vynl. Diana was New York-citified, looking chic in her sunglasses and long silky hair and as soon as she smiled, that sweet, kind spirit shone right through.

fashionado: Are you living in NYC now?

Diana: Well, I'm technically based out of Nashville but my contract has repeatedly brought me here. So I kinda feel like I'm living in NYC. Starting to feel comfortable here and staring to learn my way around.  My dogs are with me this time so I go walking with them.

fashionado: You are starring in a play called The Toxic Avenger. Are you The Toxic Avenger?

Diana: (giggles) No, I am not The Toxic Avenger. Its based on a cult classic movie of the same name by Lloyd Kaufman who's known for these very zany, campy movies. Playwright Joe DiPietro and David Bryan of Bon Jovi used this movie kinda like a jump start to create this musical. To best describe the play, if Little Shop of Horrors and the Rock Horror Picture show had a love child, it would be The Toxic Avenger. Its about a "nerd" boy named Melvin Ferd the Third who lives in New Jersey and finds out his beloved town of Tromaville is being polluted by the company that is owned by the Mayor. He tries to confront the Mayor about it but the Mayor has him "taken care of " by having Melvin thrown into a vat of toxic goo and he comes out of it as the Toxic Avenger. He's kinda like a superhero. He can stop bullets. He's all about taking care of his town.

I play Sarah, the blind librarian, who he is in love with. The character is very very sweet, innocent and honest but has a little naughty side. She thinks she's going to be like the next Danielle Steele and carries around her recorder. Thats where you see a little kinky side to her. I love this role because I can be funny, it's helping me expand my skills as I'm playing a blind character and it's showing  a more grown up side to me that you didn't see on Idol. People still associate with that show, and its great, but I was sixteen then.

fashionado: So are you recognized out on the street?

Diana: Yes and No. Its just really funny, sometimes I am , sometimes I'm not. It doesn't really matter, but what's interesting is when I'm recognized by my voice. I'll never forget the time I was at the grocery store and the cashier said, "Wait, I know who you are, I know that voice!"

fashionado: It seems like you've gone about the right way of doing things. Frankly, there are former Idolists you never hear of again.

Diana: Some of the process has been a little bumpy, but slowly and surely I've learned what I want at the end. My mom was great in setting me in the right direction. She did a lot for putting a good head on my shoulders and I know that she is always there for me. We are at a point now where mom is letting me do my own thing and its great.

fashionado: Are you on Facebook?

Diana: YES. I have a fanpage, its open to everyone.

fashionado: Country music?? Tell me...

Diana: Yes, I did a country music EP about a year ago because I really just wanted to give my fans a little something. Let them know I'm not dead! Give them a taste that there's more where that came from.

fashionado: Is there more?

Diana: I really would love to be more of that. Yes. I don't sing pop and I found what I wrote was really more country.

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fashionado: You have such a huge fan base in Atlanta, would you like to say something to your fans?

Diana: (big grin) Thank you for never forgetting about me! and for reading about me!

fashionado: Who will be the best PR for this interview?

Diana: My mom! She'll get on her phone tree, her email tree...

fashionado: Do you follow any blogs?

Diana: Perez Hilton, I follow Perez because I want to make sure he's not talking about me! Its never good to hear, "OMG! you were on Perez Hilton."

I follow Ryan Seacrest, fellow Georgian. Flat out, he's the hardest working man in show business. And there is no created character of Ryan, what you see on air is what you get. Its just Ryan. During Idol, there was so much stress backstage, people would break down and he would come to us in a very comforting way and say  it "would be ok, its just a television show."

I follow Reba McEntire. I love her. Once, as a kid I dyed my hair red. It was not a good idea!

fashionado: Do you watch TV and what are your favorite shows?

Diana: True Blood. I keep my HBO subscription just for it.

fashionado: What's waiting for you after The Toxic Avenger?

Diana: Well I'm going to spend a good chunk of pilot season in New York, so I'm excited about that, but I really have no idea what's next for me. I don't really have a plan, but I'm keeping my options open.

Smart thing! Diana is truly talented. I remember watching her perform live and her voice was really

Diana and Me something else. A gift, a true gift. Personally, Diana is such a lovely person filled with so much positive energy and charisma. She is one of the most delightful people you can meet which made this such a fun interview. It was just like having lunch with a good friend and a tape recorder. Thanks Diana!  Make sure to check out The Toxic Avenger!!!


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