American Idol’s Just Sam Ready for a New Chapter (Video)

Samantha "Just Sam" Diaz Tamron Hall Show

American Idol’s Just Sam returns to television, recently performed a gig, has new management and a mentor

American Idol 2020 winner Just Sam has been through hard times since winning the show. After winding up back on the New York City subways singing to pay the rent, they are finally embarking on the music career expected after winning the show.

Just Sam, or Samantha Diaz, went viral on social media after posting videos from their job at Starbucks and returning to singing on the New York City subway for money. After leaving American Idol, they were inexperienced and rudderless. Sam spent all of the money earned getting out of the 19 Recordings/Hollywood Records contract. Afterward, without a manager or mentor, they struggled to put out new music.

Just Sam and new mentor Ja Rule sit for an interview for The Tamron Hall Show

But after the singer revealed their struggles on social media, people reached out, including legendary rapper, Ja Rule, who is currently working with the singer. Recently Just Sam guested on the Tamron Hall Show to talk about their long and twisted journey. These days, Sam is smiling and looks forward to the future.

After singing the American Idol fan favorite cover “Rise Up” by Andra Day, Ja said to Sam “fix your crown, because you earned this crown.” Tamron added, “This is just the beginning. You’ve got people rooting for you from all over and one of the greatest in your corner.”

Just Sam sat down with Tamron and Ja Rule to talk about her American Idol journey, and what lies ahead for the young singer. Earlier in the show, Ja Rule explained why he reached out to Sam. “She’s immensely talented,” he said, adding, “I’m in a position where I can pay it forward.”

Samantha "Just Sam" Diaz Tamron Hall Show

Just Sam blames Covid for hard times, not American Idol

Despite everything that has happened to Sam in the past few years, the singer wants to reassure their fans that winning American Idol and the subsequent hardships was not the end of their musical journey. “That was my rags to riches story,” Sam says. “I may have gone back to the rags, but that don’t mean God can’t bring me back to the riches.”

Sam makes it clear that they do not blame American Idol for their hard times. They believe that the Covid pandemic stopped their career in its tracks. In December, the contestants performed in Hawaii and the Top 24 were revealed. Just as the semi-finalists assembled in Hollywood to begin filming, the world shut down. ABC halted production for a few weeks, but spun back up again with the cast and contestants filming in remote locations. After the show, Covid restrictions kept Sam for beginning to record new music and tour. By the time the world emerged from lockdown, the fleeting momentum an Idol win affords a singer was gone.

Several celebrities reached out to Sam after their videos went viral. But they were mostly wishing the singer good luck and urging them to keep singing. Ja was one person who offered to partner with Sam and help them get back into the music business.

Sam has new management and is working on an unscripted project

Recently, Sam performed at the Build On Gala, a fundraiser for the education non-profit group, where the singer had the opportunity to glam up and belt out a few tunes. The organization’s marketing director saw the news stories and thought Sam would make a great representative for the outfit, “someone who had that essence of future possibilities and hope,” he told the Washington Post.

“This is not the end of the story. That’s what I want people to know,” Just Sam told the Post. “I especially want younger people to know that my life changed and I didn’t know that it was going to. I just kept working. … Keep on fighting, keep on working hard, and it will pay off.”

Although it is not clear why Sam and the label parted ways, the singer wanted to take a few of the songs they recorded for the label with them. It cost a lot of money and basically left Sam nothing for new music.

“A lot of those songs, I was not able to re-record. And with whatever little bit of money I got after, I did use toward some of the songs,” Just Sam told the Post, who has several songs, such as “Change” and “Africando,” on streaming services. “And whatever else was left went to rent.”

Just Sam is in talks for an unscripted television project

According to the Post, Dorothy Toran, a veteran television executive connected Sam to a new agent, CrowdMGMT. She is also in talks with Sam to share their “really mind-blowing” journey from an unscripted TV perspective. The fact that Just Sam had to return to the subway was “unacceptable,” said Toran. She pointed to Sam as a young queer Black person. Because they are now recognizable, there are safety issues to consider. While Sam didn’t share about her sexuality on the show, she later came out as queer and non-binary.

“I love Jesus and I love women,” Sam said to the Post. “So I’ve had a lot of people come for me about that, and I’m just like, ‘God loves me. I think it’s important for people to know, from someone like me being in this position, I’m going to make sure that my community knows we are loved by God.”

Sam told the Post that she just hopes to inspire others.

“Everybody’s waiting to see that big blowup moment again like ‘Idol.’ I think it’s going to be something greater than ‘Idol’ — no shade, I love them. But I think that wasn’t the end. That was just the beginning,” Just Sam said. “And there’s so much more to come.”

About mj santilli 34829 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!