The popular singing talent show, ‘American Idol,’ premiered on Sunday night, debuting the audition of Claudia Conway, the 16-year-old daughter of Kellyanne Conway, former adviser to Donald Trump and George Conway, attorney and co-founder of The Lincoln Project.
The video of her audition has garnered over one million views on Youtube. It begins with Conway walking into the room where the three judges await her performance. Katy Perry, one of the judges along with Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan, asks her, “Are you okay?” to which the young Conway laughingly responds, “No.” Conway tells the judges that she “only want[s] to spread love.”
In the biographical portion of the episode, Conway described her upbringing. “I had to move to Washington, D.C., when I was 12, and I hated it,” she said. “When your mom’s working for the President of the United States, who you very much disagree with, it’s really hard.”
Kellyanne Conway made an appearance over a video call before her daughter auditioned, saying, “This is your time to shine. But remember, honey, winners are people who are willing to lose.”
Perry pushed the young Conway to talk about her relationship with her mother, saying, “Does [your mom] still hug you?” which received a laugh from Lionel Richie. The 16-year-old responded, saying she and her mom love each other, but their relationship is “a little iffy.”
She said that for most of her life, her “feelings had been suppressed.” Once she got on social media, however, she said her voice was heard.
Her father, George Conway, accompanied her to the audition. He became emotional when speaking to the cameras about his daughter, saying, “she loves music and I’m really thrilled that she’s here…”
Last year, the Conway daughter rose to fame over social media apps, such as TikTok, when she started posting videos accusing her parents of abuse and mistreatment.
Last August, when Conway was fifteen, she announced she would be seeking emancipation from her parents. In a tweet, she said, “buckle up because this is probably going to be public one way or another, unfortunately. welcome to my life”
i’m officially pushing for emancipation. buckle up because this is probably going to be public one way or another, unfortunately. welcome to my life
— CLAUDIA CONWAY (@claudiamconwayy) August 23, 2020
According to Vox, in mid-January of this year, Claudia alleged on TikTok that her mother has been “physically, mentally, and emotionally abusive.”
On January 19, Claudia posted a series of videos appearing to show Kellyanne shouting, cursing frequently, belittling, and seemingly hitting her daughter. Claudia said she had been recording their fights for years, and that these examples were only a handful of many throughout her life.
A week after the videos had been posted, Kellyanne Conway was accused of posting nude photos of her daughter online. However, Claudia defended her mother.
“I shouldn’t have made this all public,” [Claudia] wrote. “Please do me a favor and stop spreading it because it hurts me more than it helps me.” Addressing past videos in which she said that if she ever disavowed something she said on TikTok, she said, “This isn’t forced, this is coming completely from me. I have faith and I know that my mother would never put something like that on the internet.”
After announcing that she was taking a break from social media, she said, “Please no threats, no calls to authorities.”
Her parents also announced individual resignations from their positions, with George Conway tweeting he would be taking time away from Twitter “to devote more time to family matters.”
So I’m withdrawing from @ProjectLincoln to devote more time to family matters. And I’ll be taking a Twitter hiatus.
Needless to say, I continue to support the Lincoln Project and its mission. Passionately.
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) August 24, 2020
After Sunday’s public audition, many viewers spoke out against the show for seemingly using the young Conway to boost ratings.
Some detailed their disapproval of the show propelling Kellyanne Conway and seemingly portraying her in a positive light. Others, however, called out the show for using a difficult family situation to get ratings.
Good work by American Idol in their efforts to rehab the reputation of horrible human @KellyannePolls pic.twitter.com/Bkauu4zWON
— Soledad O'Brien (@soledadobrien) February 15, 2021
Claudia Conway is 16 years-old and at the center of an abusive family situation playing out very publicly. Let's not pretend ABC and American Idol aren't exploiting this. They're commodifying the unresolved trauma of a child. It's really gross. That's all there is to it.
— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) February 9, 2021
I wanted to be happy for Claudia Conway to be on American Idol, but to see the show using her abusive family dynamics to get attention to the show is just pic.twitter.com/l0it9CXE8F
— Leave Wanda Alone! (@khaleesi_britt) February 15, 2021
Conway began her audition singing “Love on the Brain” by Rihanna, but Katy Perry stopped the singer, telling her to try something else. Conway then sang Adele’s “When We Were Young.” Perry seemed to coach Conway before she sang for a second time, leading her and telling her to “think about when you were young and 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.”
Claudia’s claims against her parents have not been corroborated, and she is a minor. This is the most recent example of media companies using the Conways’ family situation for their own benefit.
The young Conway advanced to the next round of the reality television show.