Claudia Conway, like everyone else who auditioned on Sunday’s American Idol premiere, wants a golden ticket to Hollywood—but unlike most of her peers, everyone already knows who this teenager is.
Kellyanne and George Conway’s daughter first announced she’d auditioned for the singing competition series in November on TikTok, where she’s gained a massive following over the past year. Claudia’s social media presence has exposed strife within her family, especially between her and her mother, including allegations of abuse. Perhaps that’s why judge Katy Perry asked immediately upon Claudia’s arrival, “Are you OK?”
“No,” Claudia replied. “No but yes.”
When judge and country singer Luke Bryan asked what he was missing, Claudia replied, “My parents are high-profile political figures. My mother is Kellyanne Conway. She worked for Trump. And my dad’s George Conway. He worked against Trump.”
“It’s a lot,” Claudia said. “But you know, I only want to spread love, and I love a compromise, and I do disagree with my mom and dad... I had to move to Washington, D.C., when I was 12 and I hated it. When your mom is working for the president of the United States, who you very much disagree with, it’s really hard.”
Claudia’s American Idol visit is a complicated proposition. Given the platform television has already begun to provide former Trump associates to start their rebrands, it seems more than fair to feel conflicted as Claudia takes center stage on ABC. While her association with her parents is not her fault, her presence on the show nonetheless also grants her mother a branding opportunity that reminds us all what got her there in the first place.
Although Katy Perry gets in a few gentle digs at Kellyanne Conway’s expense—like, by asking her daughter, “Does she still hug you?”—Conway also appears on screen as she and Claudia speak virtually ahead of the audition. And in this moment, she plays the warm, cuddly, doting mother.
“This is your time to shine,” Conway tells her daughter. “But remember, honey—winners are people who are willing to lose.”
It’s almost enough to make you forget the oft-worrisome conflicts Claudia has posted to her TikTok.
The Conways appear to be presenting a more united front these days. As People notes, Claudia said in a TikTok video last month of her relationship with her mother, “We fight like mothers and daughters, but we also love like mothers and daughters, and I do love her.”
During her American Idol audition Claudia added, “She loves me; I love her. I just feel like our relationship is a little iffy. Most of my life, my feelings have been suppressed. So then I got on social media, and I was like, ‘Well damn, now my voice is being heard.’ You know?”
George Conway, meanwhile, spent his daughter’s American Idol audition alternately beaming and crying.
Claudia, meanwhile, told the judges that by appearing on the show, she wants to “get out of the controversy, get out of the drama, get out of the politics... and let people know that I am a singer, and this is what I want to do.”
The first song Claudia tried out on judges: “Love on the Brain” by Rihanna, which fell flat. But she had also prepared “When We Were Young” by Adele—which she sang only after Perry instructed her to sing it “like you lost your youth because you weren’t able to experience it on your own with all the noise.” Subtle!
“You dad’s your dad, and your mom’s your mom,” Perry said. “Who is Claudia?”
After Claudia’s second take, Luke Bryan said he thought her voice was limited due to her young age, and voted “No.” Perry and Lionel Ritchie, however, both voted “yes,” granting Claudia her shot.
“There’s a lot of noise in your life,” Perry told Claudia. “You have to calm the storm that is around you. Meaning, before you sing, you need to get off your phone. You need to stop reading your comments. Push it aside. Because if not, you may not ever rise above your dad or your mom. It’s your choice.”