Thursday’s exit interview with American Idol runnerup Jessica Sanchez:

Are you relieved it’s over?

JC: I kind of am, but I’m going to miss everything—I’m going to miss the people, I’m going to miss the schedule, and just the whole craziness I’m going to miss it.

I’m sure it’s quite the journey.

JS: Yes.

For your album I think I heard you say that you wanted to be kind of Beyoncé and kind of Rihanna. Can you elaborate on that a little bit, like what kind of grooves are you looking for?

JS: More like urban R&B and stuff, a little bit of pop, but not much. I want to have that goody kind of side of me, kind of not like bubble gum.

What was it like last night being able to sing with Jennifer Holliday; that was an amazing, amazing performance.

JS: Thank you so much. It was so much fun. I mean I was in the moment and so was she, and we were making like the most ridiculous faces I know. We were just really digging deep into our hearts and singing the heck out of that song.

Yes, it was awesome. I guess during the season what advice had you received that what was the best advice that you are going to carry on with you as you continue your career?

JS: I’ve gotten a lot of advice from different people this season, but something that I believed in always, and people told me here … is keep striving for my dreams, and if I do succeed always stay humble and stay grounded and always remember where I came from.

Well, first question for you is just is there any song that you wanted to sing this season but for whatever reason it just didn’t seem right for the week or whatever that you didn’t get to?

JS: I really wanted to sing a Prince song, it’s called “How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore.” I love that song and I really wanted to do it, but Prince isn’t really clearing any songs for any shows right now. So yes.

Great song, though. Well you did perform a good many Whitney Houston songs, and that’s tough to begin with, and then Randy Jackson always says, “People should never sing these songs,” and you killed them. How much pressure was that for you to take all of those? Were you nervous about doing that, especially after the tragedy earlier this year?

JS: Most definitely, and you know what, they actually pushed that in there a couple hours before the show started, so I didn’t even know I was singing it until a couple hours before the show. It was a shocking moment for me, but I was excited to sing it because I love the song, I love Whitney Houston; I’m glad I got to pay tribute once again.

Can you just kind of talk about what thoughts were running through your head when you were on stage when Ryan told you results and everything. Were you surprised?

JS: Not at all. I like literally thought–I believed that Phillip was going to win, not because I don’t think I’m good, but he has such a big fan base. We both do and we both thank our fans so much. But he’s really an artist’s artist, like he sang so many different songs and every song that he sang it sounds like Phillip. It always sounds like him, and that’s what it takes to be a real artist. And I’m so proud of him and I’m so happy with him.

I’m curious when do you next get to go home to Chula Vista and for how long, and is it totally to kick back with your family or what will you do when you’re there?

JS: I’m not sure. I’m not sure exactly when I’m going back home, but I know it’s going to be for maybe a couple days. Yes, I’m most definitely going to just be with my family and try to take it all in and enjoy that moment.

OK, and it seemed to me that the last few weeks there seemed to be a few missteps, through no fault of your own; Jimmy Iovine acknowledged that the Jackson 5 song wasn’t a great choice after the fact, because both Michael and Jermaine had shared the vocals, and the song you had sang on Tuesday that would have been the single if you won all of the judges said didn’t seem like a great song and you said so, too. So talk about the process of picking those songs and did you have a lot of leeway in what you could pick or not?

JS: For Jimmy Iovine and stuff that was all them. I couldn’t really choose anything; that was really their choices. And for the single, I really had like a day to pick and they didn’t give us many choices, and even that I had to make little adjustments to. So it was very difficult, but now that I do have time and I do have variety and I can choose and look through songs and work with different producers and stuff I’m definitely going to make my single, my real single, something that is 100% me.

I’m wondering if it was hard for you to come back after your near elimination in the judges’ save and if that affected your confidence at all?

JS: It was difficult and it didn’t really affect my confidence; it made me push harder. But I think it was also a bad thing, too, because I think I was pushing too hard and I wasn’t really feeling any of my songs, I was just trying to prove myself, I was focusing on it way too much.

Did that go away at some point? Did you feel that sort of taper off or did you feel that sort of feeling—?

JS: It did go away for a little bit, but then when we had to come to the point where we had to sing songs that the judges picked as your music it was a big challenge, because we didn’t have any say in any choices, like they just gave us songs and we did them.

The way Idol always works is that they take a two-hour show and they wait practically the entire two hours before they let you know who won. What was that doing to your head?

JS: Nothing at all. I wasn’t nervous about anything. I was actually excited, because I really thought Phillip was going to win and I was so happy for him. I think he deserves it 100 percent. I was just happy to be there in the top two. I can’t regret anything.

And even though you didn’t win you got a lot of exposure–second place is still pretty good. Does it really matter to your career that you didn’t come in first? You think coming in first really would have affected your career any?

JS: Not at all. Jennifer Hudson came in like seventh place and she is one of the biggest ones on Idol; I have so much respect for her. Hopefully I’m one of those people, and I think all 12 of us are going to have successful careers and I cannot wait.

I know with your father being away so much and your little brothers like you’re so close. Can you talk about the toll that this took on your personal like not being able to have as much contact with those that you care about in your life?

JS: It’s hard, it’s difficult, but I’m learning how to cope with it because I’m taking it as like I’m not really doing this for myself. I’m doing this for them, too, so it’s not really like I’m not being there for them.

Are you excited to be able to spend a little bit more time now just because …

JS: I’m thrilled. I won’t be spending a lot of time with them, I’ll probably get like three days at home, but I’m going to be cherishing every single second I’ve got.

Looking back at the end of that week when you got the save what do you think caused you to come in last? Do you think it was what you sang or you think people took it for granted that you were so good there was no way it was going to happen and they didn’t vote?

JS: Well I don’t know. It could have been so many things, and I don’t really like to think about it. I did what I wanted to do that week. I sang a song that nobody really knew from a not very popular artist and I was fine with that, because if I went home then I would go home proud of what I sang and liking what I sang. But I don’t know what it was … because people thought I was safe or maybe more because of my song selection, but I don’t regret anything.

The support you got from the people in San Diego County were you shocked, are you overwhelmed by all that?

JS: I was very overwhelmed. I mean I had never experienced anything like that ever in my life, and it was amazing to have that much support by my hometown. And I can’t wait to go back, and really when I came back for the homecoming story I really wanted to hug every single person that I saw.

So you know there hasn’t been a female winner of American Idol since Jordan Sparks in 2006. Do you think a woman can actually win at this point or do you think, given the voting public seems to be mostly girls, do you think the show is just going to keep having male winners every year?

JS: I have no idea, and I think my only disappointment would be that—the only reason I would have really wanted to win is just to break that whole guy reign and just have a girl win it for once. It didn’t have to be me, it could have been Hollie or Skylar or whatever. But I’m so proud of Phillip and I’m so happy with him. He’s so talented ….

So my question to you is post Idol what do you think is going to be kind of the biggest challenge transitioning into this musical career that you’re hoping for?

JS: There is a lot of things. Right now we were like in
an American Idol bubble, and we were protected by the American Idol staff and we didn’t really get to see what was going on out much in the real world. There’s that, and then the fact that we are known as American Idol contestants and we have to break out and become artists instead of being labeled American Idol contestants. So it’s going to be difficult, but we’re all going to work hard and try to get our names out there as a single person.

You’ve told me a bunch of times that you would love to sound and work with Rihanna and/or Beyoncé. If you had to choose, if you just got to choose you get to work with Rihanna or Beyoncé, who would you choose and why?

JS: Well I’ll start with I love both of them, but Beyoncé is like she is just an amazing person overall. She seems so sweet and so humble, and she’s very private with her life and she’s an amazing performer; I mean she pretty much can do anything.

Did you have any idea before you auditioned that you would make it this far?

JS: Not at all. I didn’t even think that I was going to get two minutes on TV. I mean I was hopeful, but I didn’t even think — yes — I feel blessed to even be in this position right now.

Well you were one of my favorites from the beginning. I think you’re a wonderful singer, and I think Phillip was, too. Phillip doesn’t think he’s a very good singer; I think that’s ridiculous. But I really am happy that you made it this far.

JS: Thank you.

If you could go back and change one performance what would it be?

JS: I mean I don’t think there really would be anything. I mean I went into this competition and I just sang my heart out, and I really have no regrets at all. I made top two; not a lot of people can say that so I’m happy, so I’m content with where I am.

You famously did a tribute to Whitney Houston; it gave the goosies, as J Lo would say. On the tour will you be doing a solo tribute to Donna Summer?

JS: I’m not even sure what I’m going to be doing on the tour yet, I mean we’ll see. I’m looking forward to it.

With any competition you always size up your competitors and whom you’re going up against. Who did you feel early on was going to be your biggest competition?

JS: All of them—we were all different genres, different types of music style, and it was a difficult one. So it was all a big challenge for not only us, but …. Yes, I thought it was pretty fair and pretty scary, too.

I’m wondering what was the high point for you, the very best performance? And have you heard from famous fans?

JS: I mean I’m not really sure. I mean I loved singing a number of songs on the show and … was the very song that I sang. I have gotten some Tweets from celebrities before, and it’s been a blessing. It’s been a crazy journey and I’m going to miss it.

I know you heard many times that you are a star, and I believe rightfully so and I can’t wait to hear your music. We know you have the amazing voice and you have the looks, but you have mentioned that you’re not the best dancer. Is dancing something that you want to practice and incorporate into your performance?

JS: Most definitely. Yes, I’m really trying to work on that. So we’ll figure it out and hopefully I can get some movement.

There was some criticism from Jimmy Iovine about some of your outfits this season, particularly that they were a little bit too grown up. And I was just wondering if you could talk a bit about the fashion, how much input did you have into what you wore and how did you feel about what people were saying about that one particular dress?

JS: OK. I do have a lot of say in what I wear; if I don’t like something I make sure I tell them and they always cooperate and try to fit with what I want. I did love that dress, and I think after watching the performance that I thought it was a bit too much—my hair was big, I was dancing, I had the small dress on—I understand why he was making those comments.

Now that American Idol is over what do you plan to do with your downtime? Are you going to vacation with your family or anything?

JS: I have like no downtime at all. I have like three days to go home and just relax, but that’s about it and then I get back to work. So I’m excited for those three days, but most definitely I’m going to be working most of the time.

My question for you is that most teenagers woke up this morning and went to class, and you woke up this morning as a runner-up on American Idol. What exactly does this all mean to you?

JS: It really means the world. I’ve been wanting this ever since I was a little girl, and I just want people to know, kids my age, that if you really put your mind to it you can achieve anything that you want. I’ve been doing this ever since I was little and I’ve been working hard ever since I was little, so you just have to put your mind to it and it will happen.

We’re from ETC in thePhilippines. The Filipinos are so proud of you.

JS: Oh thank you so much.

Do you have a message for them?

JS: Just I love you guys so much and hopefully we can stop by when we’re on tour. Nothing is confirmed yet, but I would love to.

Yes. We got to talk to your mom last night. She was really sweet, and she said you had never been. We were wondering what sort of Filipino traits do you think you got from your mother?

JS: I’m not really sure.

OK, do you have a favorite Filipino dish?

JS: I love lumpia and I love sinigang.

I know that you and Jesse McCartney have been Tweeting back and forth about doing a duet together, and I was wondering if you would tell us a little bit about that.

JS: Well nothing’s been confirmed yet and I’ve been really busy. So, yes, nothing’s really been done yet or talked about so we’ll see what happens.

Jessica. Do you have any closing remarks?

JS: Just want to thank all my fans for supporting me and for giving me the opportunity to make it this far. Thank you so much and love you.