It’s the reality TV mole that won’t go away.
In 2004, when she was 16, the Cambridge singer Stacey Kay appeared on “Canadian Idol,” where she performed songs by Bill Withers and Shania Twain and became a semi-finalist two years in a row, before getting the boot.
In 2015, she appeared on “America’s Got Talent”, reaching the final with daring renditions of Jessie J’s songs before the jury, including Canadian comedian Howie Mandel, eliminated her.
And last week, as fiercely determined as ever, she reappeared on “Canada has talent”, where she won a coveted Golden Buzzer – and a ticket to the semi-finals – for her visceral and heartbreaking version of Labelle’s “Lady Marmelade.”
Not only did she receive a standing ovation, but she got to take on old nemesis Mandel — transplanted to the Canadian show — in a classic payback that played like a scene from a Tarantino revenge movie.
“I am an idiot!” Mandel said when Kay reminded him of his ousting from “America’s Got Talent” in front of hundreds of thousands of viewers.
“But I’m also brilliant. Because I’m an idiot, you’re here tonight. And I tell you that the best things are worth waiting for. It was awesome. You blew the roof off.
During a Zoom call with The Record a few days later, Kay thinks the world is going as it should.
“I have this confidence and this relaxation this time,” she confides, happy to be one of 18 acts heading into the two-part semi-final which begins 8 p.m. Tuesday on Citytv.
“When I was in ‘Canadian Idol’, I was 16 years old! Come on, I really didn’t know who I was. But now I’m like an adult, an adult, which I don’t feel because I’m a little immature.
“But I’m in my own country, with the best band I’ve ever had. I’ve been through so many ups and downs.
“It sounds so corny, but it’s my moment!”
Kay is an intriguing personality: impetuous, humble, folkloric, uninhibited, a human dynamo prone to fits of frenzied and barely contained euphoria.
When I spoke to her four years ago as her excited French bulldog barked and rushed over my notebook, she told me how record company executives advised her to lose 100 pounds, stop dyeing her weirdly colored hair and starting to sing quiet love songs like Adele, instead of the bravado, rap-tinged anthems that are her natural favorite.
Above all, they said, she must calm!
“I remember thinking, ‘OK, my hair, my body, my personality… Oh, so everything about me!’ ” she told viewers last week.
“I didn’t feel like myself and it was just confusing, because I didn’t know who I was supposed to be.”
That was then.
As the woman who once wrote a song called ‘I’m Not Adele’ prepares for the semi-finals happy – no, ecstatic — to be in her shoes, she has no illusions about the challenges that await her.
“Here’s the thing,” she tells me of the acceptance of “curvaceous” performers like her. “Yes, it is changing, but it seems to be going very slowly. There’s a person the size of Lizzo who’s famous. A.
“I want to be the Canadian version of that. I want people to see me on TV and be like, “This is what I look like and it makes me feel good about my body today!” No matter your size. »
This element of empowerment is essential to her life on and off stage – she gives motivational talks – as Kay dons the mantle of dynamic, body-positive ambassador.
“I got a kajillion messages” after last week’s kinetic performance.
“Ninety-nine hundred was phenomenal, people say they love seeing people like me on stage. “Thank you for showing that you can be beautiful and hot in any size.”
But, she points out, she also received “the meanest comments ever.”
“One woman wrote, ‘She’s too full of herself and needs to lose all that fat she’s carrying around as armour,'” Kay says, chuckling in disbelief.
“I clicked on her and she’s an 80-year-old woman with children and grandchildren and I was like, ‘It’s so unfortunate that this woman raised her children to think that way.’
“She sends a message to young women that there are still adult adult human beings, in 2022, making these comments.”
Three years ago, she would have cried. Today she laughs, not because they are funny, but because they are so absurd.
“When you think about it, when you go to a mall or a grocery store, there are so many different shapes and sizes,” Kay says.
“They don’t all look like Kim Kardashian and Ariana Grande, so why can’t we see this person singing and dancing on stage? That’s who I want to be!
Really, she has no choice.
“That’s what I have to do. I have no other choice, because I tried the other way. This is what I look like. This is my size. There has been a change that has taken place. My sister said, “You have that confidence when you walk into the room. ”
She laughs. “Good things always happen when you start believing in your own thing.”
This may or may not include winning “Canada’s Got Talent” with its $150,000 prize and performance spot on an “America’s Got Talent” Live show from Las Vegas.
But after appearing on three reality shows over 18 years, Kay has perspective on that, too.
“The money is great if you win,” says Glenview Park High School graduate, who does voice acting for cartoons (“Blue’s Clues”), is a writer/producer on “Canada’s Drag Race,” an anime a weekly Podcast with his sister and will play the lion in an upcoming Drayton Entertainment production of “The Wizard of Oz.”
“But even being on the show is good. Having ‘America’s Got Talent’ on my resume has helped me in every job I’ve had since. And now I can say I’m a Golden Buzzer on ‘Canada’s Got Talent.’
“It’s really good for my career whether I win or not…(chuckle)…but I want to win.”