Jamar Rogers discusses American Idol, Addiction and HIV
I actually want to give him a hug after all the bad press he had gotten during American Idol Season 8 being associated with Danny Gokey. He didn’t make the Top 24 on Idol, but this week on The Voice, he made a triumphant return to reality TV as part of Team Cee Lo.
Jamar revealed on the show that he was a meth addict and was HIV-positive. In fact, when Carson Daly handed him an invitation to audition, he was working at God’s Love We Deliver — a non-profit organization in New York which has been providing free food for people who are sick for 25 years.
What absolutely shocked me was some reaction from viewers regarding Jamar’s plight — very hurtful words like:
JAMANDA: “HIV+ and a Meth Addict?! Wow he sure was busy after his Idol Stint SMH”
I had to delete some comments because they were too insensitive. It just goes to show how powerful reality shows are in shaping our impressions of people.
It turns out that Jamar revealed to the American Idol producers that he had been addicted to meth, but they never used it in his audition package during Season 8. He also auditioned earlier in Season 3 and was part of a “bad audition package” — during the height of his addiction. What he didn’t tell the producers was his HIV status.
He returned to Idol for Season 9 but didn’t show up for the judges’ round after he felt like he was being setup to fail (again). He was invited by the producers to audition — and so he did — and yet when he was there they openly told him: “The judges don’t really like repeaters, we don’t even know why you came back.”
Jamar tells Yahoo that what gave him the courage to come out with his HIV status was Mondo from Project Runway.
I am very happy that The Voice enabled Jamar to tell his story on his own terms. (You can view his audition here).
Finally, in the Yahoo interview, he was actually a bit defiant against Idol:
As for why Jamar’s “Idol” past was not discussed on “The Voice” this week, Jamar says: “I don’t know if it was a conscious choice on the show’s part–but I know it was a conscious decision on my part. I didn’t want to exploit it. Can I be honest? I felt like ‘Idol’s’ loss is ‘The Voice’s’ gain. And I kind of, in some perverse way, want ‘Idol’ to kick themselves a little bit! I feel like I had one hell of a story, and I didn’t want ‘American Idol’ to get any ounce of credit for me whatsoever.
“I’m not taking anything away from ‘American Idol’–if anything, they propelled me to go after I want–but I will say that ‘Idol’ is more of a cookie-cutter show,” he adds. “‘The Voice’ lets people really be themselves. I didn’t even think twice when I told the producers that I wanted to talk about [HIV]. No one coerced me, no one tried to make my story more interesting. I just said, ‘I want to get this off my chest.’ They didn’t exploit me, and for that I was truly grateful.”
Here’s a video Jamar uploaded on his Facebook after the interview on Yahoo:
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