On the evening of September 4, 2002, "American Idol" fans watched the first season finale in anticipation, wondering who would be crowned winner of the now-hit singing competition. Texas native Kelly Clarkson and curly-haired favorite Justin Guarini clutched hands as "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest made the announcement: Clarkson had won.
Though he didn't take home the top honor, Guarini was still praised for his talent and saw his career begin to take off. He landed a record deal, made a movie with Clarkson and appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" where Oprah told him that his graciousness would carry him "a mighty long way."
Yet Guarini didn't achieve much of the success he seemed destined for -- and now, he's opening up about the disappointments he experienced during his post-"American Idol" years on a new episode of "Oprah: Where Are They Now?"
"'American Idol' did wonders for my career," Guarini says. "But it was also extremely damaging for my life."
Though he seemed happy and cheerful on the outside, Guarini says something completely different was taking place on the inside. "It was a time when I dealt with horrible depression and the realization that I was not living the dream that I thought I was living," he says in the video above.
For example, that film he did with Clarkson, "From Justin to Kelly," flopped. Around the same time, Guarini was recording his album and having difficulty expressing his true identity. "I didn't quite know who I was as an artist and there were plenty of people around me telling me what it is that I should sing, how it is that I should dress and behave," he recalls. "It ended up completely backfiring."
When that album was released, like Guarini's film, it too failed to generate many sales -- a fact Guarini has no trouble pointing out. "When my CD came out after the abysmal film, it sold maybe 150,000 units, which is pathetic," he says.