- Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images Jesse Grant/Getty Images Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
- Sometimes, “American Idol” contestants who don’t make it all the way to the end become very successful in Hollywood.
- Colbie Caillat auditioned twice for the talent competition, but was rejected both times. And Bebe Rexha waited 10 hours for an audition, but never made it through. They both returned to the show as mentors on “American Idol’s” season 16 in 2018.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
Rejection doesn’t have to be the end of the road.
Several of ABC’s “American Idol” contestants have gone on to have incredibly successful careers in the entertainment industry – even after they were rejected by the long-running singing competition. Stars like Colbie Caillat, Bebe Rexha, Tori Kelly, Maren Morris, and Naya Rivera have spoken out about finding their own way to follow their dreams after unsuccessfully trying out for the TV show.
Here are 10 people who found success after being rejected from the singing competition (and before America got to vote).
Colbie Caillat auditioned for the show two different times.
- Emma McIntyre/Getty Images
The singer, known for her hit song “Bubbly,” actually auditioned with it back in the day. Though she didn’t make it on the show either time, the California native managed to catch people’s attention on MySpace.
She’s been nominated for five Grammys and won twice: once for her collaboration with Jason Mraz and another for being a featured artist on Taylor Swift’s “Fearless.” She has released six albums.
On a 2018 episode of the reality competition, Caillat said she “wasn’t ready at all. I had such stage fright, and I realized I had a lot of work to do with myself.”
Bebe Rexha waited in line for 10 hours to audition when she was 18.
- Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images
The singer-songwriter, known for her collaborations including “Me, Myself, and I” with G-Eazy and “Back to You” with Louis Tomlinson, waited in line with her mom, but she didn’t even get a shot at auditioning.
“Ten years ago my mother and I waited 10 hours on line to audition for ‘American Idol,'” Rexha wrote in a tweet in March. “I didn’t make it through. This year I’m mentoring!”
Her first studio album came out in June 2018, and she was nominated for two Grammys in 2019, including best new artist.
Tori Kelly was 16 when she auditioned for “American Idol.” She made it through, but didn’t make the top 24.
- Christopher Polk/Getty Images
After auditioning, Kelly went back home, started writing songs, and shared more of her videos on YouTube. Kelly ended up signing with Capitol Records and has released two studio albums so far.
She earned a Grammy nomination for best new artist in 2016 and lent her voice to the animated movie “Sing.”
Chrissy Metz auditioned with “Heavy Heavy” from “Dreamgirls.”
- Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Metz, now known for her role on “This Is Us,” revealed her audition in her book “This Is Me: Loving the Person You Are Today.” She told “Entertainment Tonight” that the experience made her realize that people weren’t respecting her musical abilities.
“You know, I get it, they’re trying to make stories and they’re trying to invest the audience into these characters and I understand the whole scope of everything…And I was like, ‘Oh, I can sort of see that and I don’t want to be that girl,'” she said. “I didn’t want to make ridiculous TV. I wanted to, you know, be respected as a singer.”
Maren Morris started writing music when both “The Voice” and “American Idol” rejected her.
- Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images
Morris is a Grammy-nominated artist with a hit debut album under her belt. The singer has also had crossover success thanks to collaborations with Niall Horan and Zedd.
She told Rolling Stone that she’s glad she never made it on the shows.
“I think about all of the freaking talent shows I’ve tried out for in my life and I’m so glad I didn’t make any of them,” she said. “It’s full circle, because I was rejected from ‘The Voice.’ I was rejected from ‘American Idol’ – and I’m happier for it now.”
Amber Riley never made it past the producers.
- Jesse Grant/Getty Images
“I auditioned for ‘American Idol’ at 17, [and] they told me, ‘No,'” the actress told Wendy Williams.
Riley eventually ended up on Fox, the then-home of “American Idol,” when she was cast on “Glee.” Since then, she went on to win the 17th season of “Dancing With the Stars” and earn three Grammy nominations for “Glee.”
Her “Glee” co-star Naya Rivera also tried for a spot.
- Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
She told “The Talk” that she drove up to San Francisco to audition but didn’t even make it on the show. But the song that she auditioned with – “Emotion” by the Bee Gees – landed her the role on “Glee.”
Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott tried to get on “American Idol” twice.
- Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images
She was another contestant who didn’t even make it past the producers. As a member of Lady Antebellum, Scott has released six albums and won seven Grammys.
Alan Ritchson only made it to the Hollywood round of “American Idol’s” season three.
He’s remembered for giving a striptease that made then-judge Paula Abdul and viewers swoon. Ritchson went on to play Aquaman on The CW’s “Smallville,” and had a small role in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”
BONUS: Jordin Sparks went on to win “American Idol,” but she was actually denied once before.
- Michael Loccisano/Getty Images
When Sparks first auditioned for the show in Los Angeles, she didn’t even make it past the first round. She ended up winning “Arizona Idol,” a local competition in Phoenix, Arizona, after going back home, and they sent her to Seattle to audition for the show again. That time, she made it through and eventually won the season.