Self-love and acceptance are the central themes of “Beautiful,” a new single out from season 7 American Idol alum David Hernandez.
The singer describes to Billboard magazine how the song made its way to him:
My booking agent and friend Stephen Ford knows a guy named Joe Fontaine, who became my manager. Joe also represents Mark Grilliot, a producer. Joe pitched a couple of songs to me, and “Beautiful” stood out. It was written by Adrian Newman, Stephen Werner and Ryan Stewart. Mark Grilliot co-wrote and produced it. A few months later, we were in the studio cutting vocals, and six months after that, we were shooting the video. It all happened pretty quickly. It was my first time working with Mark but definitely will not be the last, as we are in the studio finishing up a full-length album.
For David self-acceptance also means living life authentically. In an interview with Out magazine, the singer shares the struggle of growing up closeted and gay in a traditional Mexican American family. When rumors began to circulate during his run on Idol about his past work as a stripper, he hadn’t come out to his father yet.
In 2008, Hernandez made it onto the reality competition series American Idol, landing in the top 12 before being eliminated. Rumors, however, quickly started circulating about the “real reason” Hernandez was sent home. Viewers bombarded Hernandez with comments about his past as a male stripper and soon questioned his sexuality, wondering if it influenced his exit from Idol.
Hernandez has said members of the show were fully aware of his past from the very beginning. But still, the media was relentless. “It was hard to go online and not read something negative about myself.”
Though Hernandez now believes he has the strength and self-confidence to handle a lot of backlash, his younger self did not, and the Idol drama took a toll on himself and his family.
“My dad still knew nothing about my sexuality or my profession. So when it’s plastered all over CNN that’s not how somebody really wants to go down.”
David explained to Billboard how he cast the video:
I decided to cast different body types, ethnicities, sexual orientations, religious beliefs and ages in my video. I wanted to show how our differences make us beautiful and that we need to embrace that. I pitched the concept and my team made some suggestions, so it became a collaborative piece of work. Some of the people were cast and some of the people were friends who agreed to be a part of it for free. A few of the couples have actually been together for years, another couple had just started dating and the others are friends who we paired up. I also wanted to show self-love, which is why there were several single people cast as well. The message was clear to me at the end of it all. I wanted people to walk away with love and acceptance for each other. We all might be different, but we are all beautiful and there is room for everyone.