So far, Samantha Diaz is the only “American Idol” winner in the show’s history who knows what it’s like to be crowned the champion virtually. 

Standing alone in a rented Los Angeles apartment, the 21-year-old subway singer, who goes by the name Just Sam, clutched an iPad that showed her grandmother dancing and celebrating on video chat when she was declared the winner, the Deseret News reported.

The singer held up the iPad and said: “My dreams have come true. My grandmother is good. Thank you so much, America!”

Auditioning for 'American Idol' this week? Learn how from these Utah singers
Watch: 21-year-old subway singer crowned ‘American Idol’ winner ... remotely

Now, “American Idol” is again searching for its next winner. Virtual auditions kicked off Aug. 9, and thanks to Zoom, the show has the potential to reach more people than ever before. Those auditioning must be between the ages of 15 and 28.

Aspiring “Idol” contestants in Utah have the chance to audition virtually on Thursday, Aug. 20. Just Sam – whose emotional audition for “Idol” has more than 3 million views on YouTube — offered five tips for auditioning. 

Song selection 

  • “Choose a song that best represents you as an artist,” Just Sam said in a video “Idol” provided for the Deseret News.
  • Just Sam also said to be prepared to sing more than one song, and to pick songs that have contrast. “If you’re choosing a classic song, also be sure to prepare a song that’s from this time, that’s current,” she said. 

Be attention-grabbing 

  • “Make a moment,” she said.  “You only get one chance. … Choose a part of the song that’s going to really show off your vocals.” 

Personality matters

  • “‘Idol’ is not just a singing competition,” she said. “It’s about your personality, too. So make sure to tell them something that’s interesting. Something you like to do for fun, something cool that’s going to make you stand out.” 

Be prepared

  • “This has to be as if you’re going into a job interview,” Just Sam said, adding that it’s important to do warmups and whatever else it takes to be in the right mindset. 


  • “Be sure to connect with the camera, open your eyes,” she said. “You might be auditioning from your bedroom or your living room, but you have to treat this as if you’re on the ‘Idol’ stage in front of millions of people. This audition could change your life. It did for me.”

To sign up and learn more about the virtual audition process, visit American Idol’s official website.