The Amazing and Authentic Margie Mays from Season 2 of ABC’s American Idol
American Idol phenom Margie Mays never expected her life to change so drastically almost a year ago. Raised in a small town of Wilmington, DE, and daughter to a family of a LOT of doctors, she recognized early on in life a passion for singing and entertaining but was encouraged to take the path of academia and sports. This didn’t let the blonde-haired, wide-eyed dreamer lose hope.
At a very young age, Margie created her own plan to achieve her dreams. With grit and determination, those dreams came true in the following years. At the age of eleven, she set her sights on Stanford University. Every step she took thereafter got her closer to the dream of moving to California to pursue a singing career even though she had no idea of exactly how she was going to do it. She graduated valedictorian of her high school class and, after taking a leap and only applying to one college, was accepted to Stanford University. She moved to California at the age of eighteen and never looked back.
Early on she joined a pop a cappella group and started getting external validation from people around her that she had a great voice and could sing. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in Human Biology, she knew she would never be happy if she got a regular job like most of her friends were planning to do post-graduation. Instead, she packed up all of her belongings, handed her diploma to her parents, applied to the only music school in Los Angeles that was still accepting applications and drove to LA the day after graduating.
After attending a two year Associate of Arts program at Los Angeles College of Music (she studied Vocal Performance), Margie finally had the chance to dive into her true passion for singing and performing. A couple of weeks out of music school, she got a call to audition for a singing TV show that was in development. Something inside her said, “say yes.” A couple of hours later, she was inside a private audition where she ended up nervously rapping “Rapper’s Delight,” – she was so nervous in fact that she spit-up water all over the three guys who she was auditioning for in the room. She left everyone in tears because they were laughing so hard; unfortunately, though, she didn’t get the role.
Seven months later, she walked out of a yoga class on a random day and received a text message, voicemail, and missed call from someone with American Idol. One of the men who she auditioned for just seven months prior was now casting for American Idol. “I haven’t forgotten you – you were the first person I thought of,” he said. She prepared for the audition and soon walked into a room full of executives one fateful day in July 2018, only to do an impression of the Sims (yes, the video game characters), followed by singing to about 120 seconds of music. Right then and there she got the big YES…and she was on her way to the American Idol TV auditions. The rest went down on national television history.
Since her season on American Idol, her fans have started the #Mayscraze and she even has her own emoji due to a hilarious interaction with Katy Perry during her audition.
After making it to the Top 40 Margie was cut right before the Top 20. Fortunately, her fanbase has grown rapidly and she just released her first original song, “Over Again,” which has independently streamed on Spotify over 75,000 times with no label backing within the first two weeks of release. She is currently working on her vlogs (having amassed a new, ever-growing fanbase on YouTube as well), and has been writing more music to release. She is also scheduling concerts, including her first hometown show since Idol in early August.
We sat down with the amazingly talented, charming, and authentic Margie Mays to learn more about what makes her tick and what the world can expect from the person who won over the American Idol judges and millions of viewers worldwide by giving them the unexpected.
MIW: Your audition was probably one of the most entertaining and memorable in Idol history. What has been the craziest or most memorable reaction you’ve experienced with a fan that saw you out in public after the show?
Margie Mays: Ha! This question makes me laugh. To be honest, I never really expected to get recognized out in the public. Sometimes hilariously, I’ve been so wrong. I’ve definitely had a couple of moments where I’ve been mid-pizza-bite, totally thinking about food, and then just zapped back to life by the door of a restaurant I’m in to fling open and hear someone scream “I LOVE YOUUUUU MARGIE” and purr at me while I’ve got pizza oil dripping down my face. It’s happened more than I could have expected. However, there has been one moment that far surpasses all of the others. A couple of weeks ago, I had to go to the hospital for a quite embarrassing and admittedly personal situation in the middle of the night. I had no makeup, no smiles, and definitely had no intention of being recognized. While waiting in the hospital room, the nurse comes in, I explain my ailments, and before leaving, she looks at me, puts a box over her head, and PURRS in my face! I couldn’t help but laugh. It was too hilarious. I’m glad the world always keeps me on my toes. You can never be too sure when your true identity will be revealed. Ha!!
MIW: What’s an average day like for you now that you are doing music full time with a massive fan base?
Margie Mays: Right now it’s a lot of juggling. My main focus is content for my fans, and that comes in a lot of forms. I’m not only writing and recording new music, but I’m also in the studio recording covers as well, to keep the music flowing and getting it out to their ears. Beyond that, I’m constantly multi-tasking because a lot of the cool opportunities I get – I vlog for my Youtube channel. An average day also consists of planning some type of event or show or taking a meeting about future plans; I like to not only focus on the now but have plans for the future. Then it’s staying active on all the social media platforms; I really think it’s important to engage with my fans. So keeping all those socials up to date and engaging; that means photoshoots, video content; if you’ve seen it on my page, I’ve been scurrying my buns off to plan all the pieces of whatever you’re seeing. It’s a lot to juggle, especially since I still teach voice and piano lessons (and try to maintain some semblance of a healthy lifestyle where I can work out and see friends and take a minute to relax…xyz…you get the drill), but it’s exhilarating. I love the hustle and always want to be busier. I also try to make time for a little reality tv at the end of the night – I’m obsessed with the show “Love Island” right now… let me tell you, it’s binge-worthy. It’s a show from the UK so it’s helping me flesh out my British accent impressions. The show is great, but my accent is still pretty awful!
MIW: You are obviously a very determined and independent person, but you also have a vulnerable and quirky side of you that millions have seen on American Idol. Where does your ability to be strong yet vulnerable come from?
Margie Mays: I think the strength part comes somewhat easy for me. It’s probably the result of the amalgamation of my upbringing, parents, and a reflection of the strength of the dream that I carried. My parents early on instilled in me the value of a strong work ethic, and it was always something that felt quite natural to me – working hard for something your heart aches for. Vulnerability, however, is something I have learned to show more as I’ve gotten older. On the inside, I’ve always been both soft and quirky. I think it took maturity and stumbling through life to realize that both the most magical moments and beautiful relationships came through showing my truest colors. I am thankful that American Idol happened at age 25 for me (as opposed to age 15, let’s say) because the platform arrived at a time in my life where I knew showing vulnerability and weakness is actually a strength. I wouldn’t change a thing about how I shared myself with the world.
MIW: Has your family been supportive throughout your journey to pursue music as a career? What have been their greatest worries or concerns? What has been their best advice?
Margie Mays: Quite honestly, I think they have silently (and not always so silently) struggled with supporting my music career. I do come from a family that is heavy on academic careers, and very light on the creative ones. That made me feel like the odd one out for a very long time. I think my family’s biggest struggle was that they saw me excel in school – to give you a bit of perspective, I graduated valedictorian of my high school class, and then went on to Stanford University where I graduated Phi Beta Kappa. Coming from a family of academics and surgeons, it was hard for them to feel like I was throwing my potential away on something like “music.” Getting American Idol has changed my life because it gave them comfort – allowed them to not only be proud of me but watch how America and the judges reacted to me and think “okay, maybe she can do this.” Their best advice has come in the form of the strong work ethic that they provided me. Growing up, my dad always told us all that mattered was effort & attitude (a motto I felt I heard a few too many times). Those two words, I have learned, matter so so much. I am thankful for those principles I was always taught.
MIW: Do you have any other hidden talents or ambitions that most people don’t know about?
Margie Mays: I speak Simlish. Yep, remember that game The Sims? The gibberish they speak? Yeah. I speak a little bit of it. Surprise 😀
MIW: What is your favorite part about the music industry? Your least favorite? Why?
Margie Mays: Hmm. I feel quite new to the industry so I’m sure this will change. For now, my answers would be: my favorite part about the music industry is that I get to be creative, and there are truly no rights and wrongs. I get to flex all the weirdness, all the weakness, all the vulnerability, and somehow make projects out of it? It’s so fun and freeing. Least favorite thing? We have definitely fallen into a pattern of sharing our highlight reels. I crave a little more genuineness and authenticity – a little for humor, for goodness sake – and when people get too busy climbing the social hierarchy Hollywood ladder I get put off by that.
MIW: What advice would you give someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Margie Mays: 1) Go for it. 2) Work your butt off. 3) Be a kind person, because you will find out that it matters, a lot. 4) Be yourself. This might be the hardest thing to learn (who am I, and how do I learn to accept that?), but I promise you, the world craves authenticity. And anything short of that is so off-putting and obvious. Even if you’re still growing into yourself, just be honest. It matters, it’s beautiful, and it works.
MIW: What was the inspiration behind the writing of your single “Over Again” and what can readers expect to hear from you in the near future?
Margie Mays: Well, funny enough, this song has been in existence for about two years now. At first, it was just a classic breakup song. I wanted it to paint that feeling of everyone’s nostalgia for their first love. However, once American Idol happened – more specifically, when I was cut – I immediately thought of that song, and I told my friends who helped me make it, I have to release this. It’s kind of my statement to the show, I loved every single bit of you and I would do it ten times over. Figuratively and literally. Yes, I want to come back.
MIW: Your Youtube videos are hilarious and extremely entertaining. Tell us more about what your current and future fans can expect to see from you?
Margie Mays: Thank you so so much! My vlogs are such a breath of fresh air for me and honestly, they’re one of my favorite projects I do. I love the idea of taking my audience behind the scenes of life post-Idol but in a very nonchalant and honest (and, hopefully to everyone else, funny) way. A perfect example would be how I vlogged my entire trip to Modesto, where I had my first concert for fans since American Idol. Hundreds of people showed up, it looked all glamorous, (bla-bla-bla,) and I easily could have released a video that hyped up the glamour and the sequins and the autographs. Instead, I like to show the real side – me, sleeping on a couch, with a blue-nosed pitbull spooning me, waking up to Chihuahua poop while I couch-surfed for the gig. Those kind of moments are the best and I love sharing them with the world.
MIW: Can you tell us more about the “Hometown Show” that you recently talked about on social media?
Margie Mays: Yes! This will be the first time I have come home to Delaware since American Idol. I’ve been planning a concert at “The Queen” in downtown Wilmington. EVERYONE should come! I have two openers, who are actually my group-mates from group night on American Idol, and then I will be doing a set backed by a local band. I’ll be singing covers (some that you saw on the show) and originals. I can’t wait. There’s also a meet & greet, which I learned is my favorite – I truly love meeting everyone. I’m shocked at how far some people travel to see Idol contestants. My last concert I met a woman who has a towel with autographs from over 100 different American Idol contestants, past and present. It’s so special.
MIW: How can our readers connect with you on social media, learn more about you, or stream/download your music and/or videos?
Margie Mays: Yay! I’m on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. I’ve also got a personal website I keep up to date with lots of goodies. I’ll link all of them below.
Hometown Show LiveNation Link: https://concerts1.livenation.com/event/020056DABB6C840B?_ga=2.90241498.1937145139.1562027922-1641488663.1561503868