MK Nobilette on being the first out lesbian to compete in the “American Idol” finals


Nothing like breaking down some barriers in front of millions of people, right?

That’s what singer MK Nobilette is doing as a current Top 12 finalist on Fox’s competition series American Idol.


Not only is San Francisco native Nobilette the first openly gay singer going into the top round of the competition, but she’s also the first openly gay female to compete in the finals.

From her first appearance on the show, Nobilette talked about being gay and said to Idol judges Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick, Jr. and Keith Urban, “I’m very obviously gay, and there are always going to be people in America and everywhere else who are definitely going to hate me,” she said. “But I think in the last two years there have been a lot of things that have really changed that and have made it a positive thing.”

AfterEllen jumped on the phone earlier this week with the singer, who told us about the experience on the show thus far and how her girlfriend, Casey Ellis, is reacting to her part in the popular competition.


AfterEllen: How has this ride been so far on American Idol?

MK: It’s pretty interesting. It’s so different from what you think it would be but it’s also so fun. It’s a wonderful experience.

AE: You’ve been very honest and upfront about being who you are from the start. Was that a big decision or not so much?

MK: You know, I guess it just didn’t make any sense for me not to say it. People were saying that I was different from the other contestants but I didn’t think there were any reasons to hide it.

AE: From the audience viewpoint, we can see the judges react to your singing but can you see them or are you just trying to get through the song?

MK: At this point, I think you have to focus on so many things so they are a part of it but there are also a million other things, too.

AE: Have you been OK watching yourself on the show? Do you like it or don’t like it?

MK: I don’t have a problem watching myself perform but I definitely don’t read any other social media because I don’t read any of the comments of anything like that. But I definitely watch myself.

AE: Does the show advise you to stay off social media or is that your own personal choice?

MK: They do advise us not to do that but I completely understand why. There are people who are going to hate and I don’t really need to be reading that.

AE: What’s the schedule like at this point? Is it pretty much 24/7 or do you get some down time?

MK: We get one or two days off but that’s about it. It’s pretty much 100% about Idol.

AE: What has been the biggest surprise so far in this journey?

MK: Definitely how close everybody is. I think that when you watch the show you don’t think of how strongly connected everybody is. I definitely have made friends I hope to have for the rest of my life. It’s pretty cool.

AE: Talk to me about the song choices. How do you decide what to sing? Do you have control over that?

MK: I do choose my own songs but it’s a matter of getting the songs approved by the artist but overall I pick my own songs.

AE: What does a song have to have to make you connect with it and say, “Yes, that’s the one.”

MK: I don’t know. Personally, for me, when I sing a song that I’m thinking of doing. When I sing it, you should end it being like, “Oh my God! That’s so awesome!” So I kind of know whenever I sing a song. It’s kind of like “Satisfaction,” which was my last one. I love Alan Stone and whenever I sing that song I just smile. I love that song so much.

AE: In the course of the competition, you get to meet some of the big iconic artists outside of the judges that you see every week. Are there any you’re excited to meet and hopefully work with?

MK: I would go crazy if I got to perform with Allen Stone. I just think he’s so wonderful and he’s such a good musician. He writes his music and his music is amazing but I don’t even understand how he someone can comes up with something like “Satisfaction.” It’s so good! Definitely Allen Stone or Matt Corby.

AE: Can you preview what you’re preparing for this week?

MK: We have theme weeks and this week is “Home Week.” It’s a song that reminds me of San Francisco. It’s a good one.


AE: You are on Twitter (@mknobilette) so maybe you’re looking at your feed a little bit. Have you heard from any other artists that surprised you?

MK: Allen Stone tweeted me after I sang his song and he said, “Thanks for rocking out to ‘Satisfaction.’’’ I thought that was really cool.

AE: That might start happening a lot as you go into the competition further. Is that surreal for you?

MK: It’s so weird. These people are like real people and they all seem like something so different from us but then once we’re moving forward it’s like these are real people and they’re doing what we’re doing but they know who we are. It’s crazy! I fan girl a little bit.

AE: Let’s talk about personal life…

MK: I’m with my girlfriend, Casey. We’ve been together for awhile and we’re still strong.

AE: What are her thoughts on this whole experience? She’s not onstage with you but how is she taking it all in?

MK: She’s definitely really supportive. She’s also a musician, she’s a pianist and a vocal coach, which is awesome and really great for me. I think that it’s good to be of different styles. She’s musical theater and so I don’t think American Idol would necessarily be something she’d want to do if she did something like this. But she’s really supportive.

American Idol airs Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m. on Fox.

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