Claudia Conway's American Idol Audition Includes Cameo by Her Parents Kellyanne and George Conway

Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan attend the premiere event for "American Idol" hosted by ABC at Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on February 12, 2020
Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Claudia Conway, the daughter of Trump's former presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway and Lincoln Project co-founder and staunch Trump detractor George Conway, shifted the spotlight away from the political arena and took the stage as a contestant on Sunday's American Idol.

The teen, who previously used social media to declare her "emancipation" from her family and its political ties, has stepped away from political discourse and is placing her bets on music.

"The internet can be a very, very dark place. But when life is all going downhill, I have my music," Conway said on the show, which featured her audition in a 9-minute segment.

"So you probably know me as 15-year-old emancipation girl or that blonde woman from Fox News' daughter. I'm a little more than that," Claudia, now 16 and among the youngest of the contestants, said in her application video for American Idol. The television series, which is on its 18th season, reduced its age minimum to 15 in 2010. 

"When your mom is working for the president of the United States who you very much disagree with, it's really hard," she said.

Claudia said she hopes her role on the show, which premiered on ABC, can help her "get out of politics," but the producers continued to promote the segment featuring young Conway. The network has since received some backlash for what critics have called the exploitation of the young contestant and her familial drama.

"It seems like being in a high-pressure media spotlight on a show contrived to exploit emotional drama for ratings is the last thing Claudia Conway needs right now. Sigh," journalist Aisha Sultan wrote on Twitter.

"That Claudia Conway thing was cringe-worthy. ABC taking advantage of her in that manner. Guess we are not better in 2021. Bless her," another journalist wrote after the show.

"Now, I want to get out of the controversy, get out of the drama. Get out of the political, whatever –– and let people know that I am a singer and that this is what I want to do."

Claudia's father, tearful and supportive, escorted her to the audition.

"It makes me happy to see her here seeing her do this one way or the other," George said backstage.

Kellyanne also made a brief appearance, by video, supporting her daughter before she walked on stage before the three judges, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie. 

"But remember honey, winners are people who are willing to lose," Conway said.

Claudia began her audition with a rendition of Rihanna's "Love on the Brain" and then, with pointed direction from Katy Perry, transitioned into Adele's "When We Were Young." 

"When you sing this next song, think about when you were young. There's a sadness there. It's like you lost your youth because you weren't able to experience it on your own without all of this noise," Perry instructed her.

Bryan said her voice was not quite developed, voting "no" but both Richie and Perry gave Conway a nod towards Hollywood for the final qualifying rounds.

Kellyanne, one of Trump's longest-standing aides, left her position as Senior White House advisor in August, citing family concerns after her daughter, Claudia, started posting videos on platforms like TikTok, in which she discussed her family. George Conway also took a "hiatus" from Twitter and stepped away from his fight against the re-election of Donald Trump.

Claudia, who once said her mother's career "ruined my life" has since garnered millions of followers. She then went onto clarify that her family drama does not stem from her mother's job in the White House but from years of alleged abuse, Vox reported. Most recently, New Jersey authorities investigated Kellyanne Conway after topless photos of Claudia briefly appeared publicly on Jan. 25 on her Twitter account, CBS New York reported.

Claudia later came to her mother’s defense, saying, “I know that my mom would never, ever post anything to hurt me like that intentionally, and I do believe she was hacked."

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