Idol Reject to Perform on Public

Tamyra Gray, who sang her way to fame last year on American Idol, gets on the national stage again this month, this time as an actor.

Gray guest-stars as Aisha, a shy girl with a strong singing voice, on Boston Public in four episodes beginning next week.

The high school drama airs at 8 p.m. EST Mondays on Fox. It did not air this week (Feb. 17) because of the two-hour Joe Millionaire finale.

David E. Kelley, creator and executive consultant of Boston Public, saw Gray on American Idol and decided he wanted her to audition for the role.

"The fact that I'm on Boston Public is simply because David Kelley watched the show, and he thought that I, without the makeup, might be able to fit a high school character," Gray said during a Television News Critics Association conference.

Gray, a 23-year-old former preschool teacher, acted in plays last year and has been doing business theater for Coca-Cola for a few years. Although she didn't win American Idol, her exposure on the show has led to an Old Navy commercial and a contract with 19 Entertainment management.

Her first album will be released in late spring or early summer.

"The first day I was nervous," Gray said about being on the Boston Public set. "It was very heart-wrenching because I didn't know what to expect. It's not the same as music.

"And having never really done any amount of lessons for acting, I didn't really know what to do. But they were all warm, and everybody was willing to help me. So it was OK."

A short preview tape shows Gray's character trying out for the school musical, her confidence growing as she sings "I Will Always Love You," made popular by Whitney Houston.

Gray seems natural in the role. Dialogue scenes show she doesn't grab the spotlight; she lets it naturally come to her.

She said American Idol and Star Search provide a good service for both record companies and performers.

The second American Idol series airs at 8 p.m. Tuesdays and 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays on Fox. (The new Star Search begins its second tournament this week with episodes at 8 p.m. Wednesday and Friday on CBS.)