“You can still be successful after the show,” she tells Gold Derby in our webcam chat below. “It really doesn’t matter what place you come in. Jennifer Hudson came in seventh place and she’s winning Grammys and Oscars. So I think with me coming in second and me being so young, I surpassed my goal. I never even thought I would get this far. So I’m extremely excited and I will work my butt off after the show. I’m so excited for people to hear my album.”
What name will she use in the future? Her full, real name is really Jena Irene Asciutto, but she cut it short when the “Idol” production crew had trouble pronouncing and remembering her last name. “They always messed it up, so they called me by my middle name instead,” she explains. At one point during the competition Harry Connick Jr. asked her what name she might prefer if she launches a professional singing career.
“Just Jena,” she answered – like other one-name singers Madonna, Cher and Fantasia.
But now she’s changing her mind: “I might keep Irene. A lot of people told me that they like Jena Irene a lot … and it kind of has a nice ring to it, to be honest. I was named Irene after my grandma who passed away before I was born. Everyone says she’s just like the coolest lady in the world, so, hopefully, she’s looking down on me and she’s proud.”