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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

'Idol' castoff Barba focused on singing career

By Gary Strauss, USA TODAY
Antonella Barba, whose controversial, semi-nude Internet-posted photos overshadowed her singing talents and those of other American Idol contestants, said she hopes to embark on a professional singing career despite Thursday's elimination from the Fox talent show.
"I hoped to remain on the show because of my talent. I hope the photos didn't affect where I got in the competition," the 20-year-old New Jersey native said Friday afternoon, noting that she had been "exploited" by the photos that were posted without her permission. "I've learned to be careful who you trust," she said.

Photos showing Barba in various stages of undress — as well as fake photos of someone appearing to look like her engaging in sexual acts — surfaced on the Internet two weeks ago — but received no mention on the top-rated Idol.

Barba says she did feel pressured by publicity surrounding the photos, but that Idol producers "kept me focused on the competition and to ignore the other stuff."

"That's not what I'm about," she said. "All that other stuff was irrelevant. It was definitely difficult (to deal with), and it wasn't how I intended things to go. But I tried to block out as much as possible and focus on the competition. I'm here to sing."

FIND MORE STORIES IN: Idol | Antonella Barba
Barba, a student at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., says she plans to remain in Los Angeles for a week or two to see what offers might surface. She would prefer a singing career, particularly focusing on pop music, but says she would consider acting or modeling gigs.

"I want to strike while the iron's hot," Barba says. "I want to make a name for myself singing. I wasn't trying to promote myself in any way (through the photos)."

Barba says she has no plans — as rumored — to pose for Playboy magazine. "I was never approached," she said. Asked if she would pose, she said, "absolutely not."

"The pictures that actually are of me are very personal," Barba says. "That is not how I intended to portray myself nor do I intend to portray myself in the future. That was personal, private and not for the public."

Dru Libby, a public relations rep for Idol, blocked reporters from asking Barba several questions. "She was almost in tears after the (30-minute media session)," Libby said. "You could tell she was wearing down. She was getting that lump in her throat where she was breaking down. After six questions...honestly, she couldn't take it anymore."

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