Philadelphia Contestant Dennis Lorenzo Goes From Homeless to Hollywood

American Idol Contestant Dennis Lorenzo Attracts World-Wide Attention

Philadelphia native Dennis Lorenzo is inching closer to the big prize on American Idol.

Dennis Lorenzo of West Philadelphia is continuing his life-altering musical journey toward the American Dream, and is thrilled that his family members, friends and legions of new fans around the world are rooting for them.

The newly-married 26-year-old Lorenzo, who now makes his home in L.A., has been going through the American Idol audition process in between working as a music producer and staying close to his wife and their two-year-old daughter, Aliyah. The rest of the family is watching from their homes in Philadelphia, as he progresses through the various levels, hoping that he is the big winner.

But if not, Lorenzo, who once was homeless and slept on the couch or floor at the apartments of various friends, knows that being seen by millions of viewers will help his music career, as his confidence continues to soar. After for Lorenzo, it has been a five-year journey.

ABC’s first season of American Idol, the iconic series that revolutionized the television landscape by pioneering the music competition genre, has viewers glued to their sets Sundays and Mondays from 8-10 p.m. [ET].  Now, the hopefuls have headed into “Hollywood Week” where they are performing solo, and giving everything that they have to keep their dreams alive.

Helping to determine who America will vote for to become the next singing sensation are judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie.

During an exclusive interview, Lorenzo spoke about his family, support from near and fear, and never giving up on your dreams, despite all of the obstacles that may come your way.

Your recently got married to your lovely girlfriend. Was it spur of the moment?

Dennis Lorenzo: I wouldn’t say that. It’s something that we’d talked about. After we had our daughter, Aliyah, we kind of realized that we knew where we were going very quickly. After we met we were so connected, and we always say we felt like we’d known each other for such a long time. We were just that support system for each other. When we had the baby, I realized immediately that she was the one that I wanted to tie the knot with and the same for her. We had the talk really early. But it wasn’t until about a year or so later that we really decided to take action. We had a small ceremony because we are not rolling in dough. We wanted to make that decisions for ourselves and for the baby.

Tell me about the audition with your group.

DL: Oh, yeah. That was an interesting time. The whole process was very interesting and different from anything I’d ever done. Apparently, my take on it was they were kind of getting us ready for what the industry is like. So after the lines of 10 [process] we literally had to start working on the group round. We had to choose our group, and then choose our song. But this went so long into the night. Before the group round a few people had found me and they were looking at my Instagram. Will Casanova approached me to be in his group. I didn’t know that they had people together but I had already been talking to Will and he was pretty cool so I was like’ all right, man. Let’s make it happen.’

Please tell me more.

DL: Then we got the group together and we chose our song, which is Love Yourself by Justin Bieber. It was kind of a no-brainer because it was the only song that everyone knew and that we could learn that fast. Then obviously you guys know Milo was in the group, which means his mom was also in the group with us. A lot of people laughed when I said that on TV.

How did you function when you were so sleep deprived?

DL: I think I went to sleep at 3:30 a.m. or something like that,and we had to get up at 5. I was on the phone with my wife. And she asked if I wanted her to stay on the phone with me to keep me awake. I knew I need some kind of sleep. When I got up I was dead tired so all that moving around you saw me doing on TV I don’t know where that energy came from because I was so tired I was like literally falling asleep. I’m usually reading my book in the back while we’re waiting because there’s a lot of waiting with American Idol.

Okay, where did the group name come from?

DL: The name Super Dope Hotness was just a joke. I just said it. They were like what should we name the group and we were spitting out names and I was like how about Super Dope Hotness. They were like ‘okay, I was just joking.’

Were you at the site of American Idol for all these episodes or were you going home and back to your life and working in between?

DL: Oh, I was actually going home to spend time with my baby and my wife and to watch the baby when my wife had things to do. I know how tough it can be; me not being there all the time. Even when the baby goes to sleep at 8 or 9, she likes to get up early. I could have stayed at the hotel, and had that experience with everybody else, but the producers and everyone knew that when I had that time to spend with my family, that was the most important.

You were also working, right?

 DL: Yes. I have a partner and a production company in which I make beats for people, and that’s how I make a living. I’m a music producer. So my life is all about working, and then chilling with my baby and my wife, or just taking care of the baby and giving my wife a break.

Do you have any plans to come back to Philadelphia for anything in the near future?

DL: I hope so. I mean I really do. Again, money is kind of tight so I don’t always have the means to travel but whatever comes from this, God willing, this puts me in a better position financially. I’d love to come back to Philly as much as I can. I’d love to get back to Philly.

In addition to your wife and your baby what kind of support you’re getting from other family, friends in Philadelphia and LA. Do you have these new fan base from the show? Talk about the whole support thing that you have going on.

DL: The support has been incredible. The last high school I went to was in Norristown, right outside of Philadelphia, they have shown me so much support. My teachers there are posting about me on social media like I’m their son, and sending me messages of how supportive they are and letting everyone else know. So I get messages from others who say they heard about me from my teacher, Lynn. Then there’s the people I used to work with at Apple who are messing me saying ‘we always knew you could do this. We wish you so much luck.’

What about family?

DL: Every time my grandma sees me on a commercial, she’s on the phone, calling my mom saying, ‘Hey, I saw Dennis on the commercial again. Tell Dennis to call me. She is just so excited. My mom’s telling all her friends. All her friends are supporting me. My sister, her friends.

How does that feel?

DL: I can say that it’s never overwhelming because the love that I feel kind of fuels me. I get fired up by that and the feeling I’ve got a base of people who believe that I can actually do this.

Tell me about the people around the world who are pulling for you.

DL: There are all of these people from the Netherlands, India and Europe I have been hearing from on social media. I was just reading a message from a guy from Europe this morning saying, ‘I wish you luck. I think you can go all the way.’

What does that feel like?

DL: It means that I’m touching people all around the world, and that’s my goal. The biggest thing is how inspired people are by my story, and it has touched literally every part of the world. My little family and I live on the sixth floor, and I’m looking at the mountains out here in LA. The world is so vast and so big and to think that I’m inspiring people all across the globe, and getting messages from people telling me their stories. I’ve been brought to tears a lot more times than once from these people’s stories. They’re just telling me ‘you inspire me to go for my dreams.’ I reply to just about everyone who reaches out to me. That’s what the support is like. I could go on forever about it.

Speaking of Philly and it’s delights, I would send you a Philadelphia cheesesteak, but it wouldn’t travel well.

DL: I miss it.

Did you make friends with the other contestants?

 DL: Yeah. I mean I could sit here and tell you that I’m all happy go lucky with everybody, but I’m not the guy. I’m cool with them, but I’m also really focused. I’m not saying that you can’t have friends in order to be focused. But I’ve wanted an opportunity like this for so long that it’s really tough when you’re in these situations and you become friends with people, and  then they go home, and it kind of messes with your emotions a little bit. I’m cool with just about everyone there, and I guess you could call us friends but I’m really focused. I exchanged a few numbers and we say ‘what’s up’ every now and then, but it’s not like we are life-long pals or anything.

But you did so some bonding with [contestants] Milo and Will and his family.

 DL:  Yes. When I was in line with the auditions I connected with Milo and his brother, Will. Milo plays the saxophone and his dad plays guitar, which I do also. Then they met my baby and Milo met my wife outside when I wasn’t there. So I bonded with his entire family.

What can you tell me about Sunday’s episode for your solo round?

 DL: The song I picked for my solo round was Home by Chris Daugtry, who was a contestant on the show at some point.

Why did you pick it?

DL: It’s just the right song for me at that moment. I actually love the song. I used to listen to it a lot. I’m a huge fan of Chris Daugtry so it was kind of a no-brainer when it was one of the options. Beyond that, just thinking about home and what home has become over this five-year journey of mine. I didn’t have a home for a long time. I was homeless for almost five years. I’m not homeless anymore but when I moved to Atlanta I didn’t have anything. Me and my friends were trying to figure out what we were going to do. We were sleeping in this apartment. I wasn’t even supposed to be there. This is the truth. They had this apartment and I was sleeping on the floor and we had no heat so I would get sick. We were eating Ramen noodles and these terrible chicken patties from Kroger and then honey buns for dessert, and drinking Kool Aid. I mean you’re talking about the worst diet ever; to where I think I got this weird eczema thing.

What changed all of this for you?

DL: When I met my wife and we had the baby it just solidified in my heart that I had finally found a home that I could call my own, outside or my mom’s house or my aunt’s house. It wasn’t about trying to become a superstar. If was about finding my family and finding that love. The song says ‘I’m going home to a place where I belong, where your love has always been enough for me.’ The emotional connection is there with that song and it was something I really wanted to share with others.

When you watch the show on the particular night and you’ve already lived it, what is that like for you?

DL: That’s a good question. It really hasn’t set in yet. I know that sounds a little crazy but every time I see myself on TV I’m like this is wild. I will watch my audition so many times not even to criticize myself, just to enjoy it. I watch it on YouTube over and over. I will literally watch it over and over. I’m really enjoying this. I’m excited to see where it goes and I still can’t believe it’s happening. I really can’t. It’s crazy.

Can you share a quick piece of advice that you give to someone who didn’t get picked at all or who got cut really early? What do you say to them to kind of keep their spirits up?

DL: As far as just with American Idol?

Or anybody doing something like this?

DL: You’re right; it’s tough. When it comes to things like this with people I’ve had some people actually ask me this question it’s never easy when you get rejected from things but just a few things. It’s a great experience. What I would tell people to do in situations like this is drop your nerves at the door. That’s one thing. Nerves will ruin your chances with a lot of things. Not just an American Idol audition but it can be an interview for a job. You can be so nervous and you’re not in your right mindset. You’re thinking about what you’re doing wrong rather than everything you have to do correctly to get that ace in the hole.

What else would you advise someone else going for a big win like this?

DL: You need to have a personality that allows people to want to engage with you. If you’re just this stickler who has the brick face on all day long then no one wants to approach that person. But if you’re the guy who’s alive and who’s smiling and even if you are reading like I was; I was still always approachable. There was always an energy that I put out there that says ‘I’m available. You guys can come up and talk to me.’ So I would say it is important to be memorable. There’s a lot of contestants that I saw that were very memorable. Some people will say that the hole in my guitar was a memorable thing, but it was there by accident. You have to find your thing. I think another thing is to make sure that whatever it is that you’re doing that you pick what is right for you. If you are a singer, then choose the right song. If you are a gymnast or jumping off diving boards, make sure you pick that flip or dive that makes you look the best. Make sure you choose the thing that’s going to make you look the greatest at what you do, whatever it is.

What about things to avoid?

DL: Complaining and quitting. You’ve got to learn to deal with criticism no matter what field you are in because as you progress you will be criticized all the time. A lot of people complain that their road, or process, is taking forever and give up. I didn’t give up. This has been a five-year journey for me, and I kept it going strong. There are some things that I have back home waiting for me and there were some things that I knew were ahead that I needed to reach. I had that faith. Do I would tell anyone trying for the brass ring to have that faith, never give up, keep going strong and don’t complain along the way. All the complaining does is create an opportunity for you to quit.

To See Dennis Lorenzo’s American Idol Audition, Click Here


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