When Mandisa Hundley auditioned for “American Idol” in 2006 she thought it would be her chance to make it big in music.
Instead, the opportunity turned into heartbreak, thanks to a comment from then-judge Simon Cowell.
As Hundley, 35, stood before the judges, Cowell, known for his often brutal appraisals of contestants, commented not on Hundley’s soulful sound, but her size.
“Do we have a bigger stage this year?” he said.
“It was just hurtful and mean and the one thing I didn’t want to have happen,” Hundley said.
The gospel singer, who told Cowell on that show that she forgave him, also took Cowell’s words to heart and changed her life.
She set a goal to lose 100 pounds and started by changing her diet.
She also found a love for the dance-inspired exercise craze, Zumba, and hired a personal trainer.
Hundley says her fans and her religion kept her on track. However, she does admit that she struggled to keep up her motivation at times.
“There was a time when I didn’t feel like getting up and going to Zumba one day. I had done everything right. I got on scale and I had gained 1.8 pounds, so I tweeted that I was through with it. And when I woke up from my nap I had tons of messages saying, ‘Don’t give up.’ And more than that, they said, ‘I appreciate knowing that you’re real and that you go through difficult times,’” Hudley said this morning on “Good Morning America.”
Today, six years later, Hundley is 100 pounds thinner and back in the spotlight.
Hundley has a new EP, appropriately titled “Get Movin’,” available now. She also performed “Good Morning” from her latest album, “What If We Were Real,” for us live on Good Morning America.
When asked what she would say to Cowell now if given the opportunity, she humbly replied, “Well, the same thing that I said to him back in my season. I forgave him for what he said to me, because I’ve been forgiven for so much. I can extend that same grace to him. But then I would follow it up and say, ‘How ya like me now?’”