American Idol Contestant Defends Katy Perry Against Bullying Accusations

Oliver Steele, who competed on the most recent 21st season of American Idol, is speaking up for show judge Katy Perry amid criticism of her behavior.

By Corinne Heller Jun 02, 2023 8:38 PMTags
Watch: Katy Perry REACTS to Iam Tongi's American Idol Win

An American Idol contestant has come to Katy Perry's defense in wake of accusations of bullying from viewers and amid uncertainty over her future on the show.

Oliver Steele, who made it to the top eight on the most recent 21st season, detailed on Instagram his feelings about the pop star, who has served as judge on the singing competition series for the last six seasons.

"I've seen a lot of rumors going around the internet about Katy Perry possibly leaving Idol and I don't necessarily know what's true and what's not. Here is what I know about @katyperry," he wrote in his May 26 post, alongside two photos of himself with the singer. "Katy is not a bully, nor does she shame people."

Katy sparked controversy when an American Idol contestant reflected on feeling that the Grammy winner was "mom shaming" her during her audition. In the March episode, before performing "You Know I'm No Good" by Amy Winehouse and "Benny and the Jets" by Elton John, Sara Beth Liebe told the "Roar" singer and fellow judges Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan that she was 25 years old and has three children.

Katy Perry Through the Years

Katy subsequently looked shocked and pretended to act woozy, prompting Sara exclaim excitedly, "If Katy lays on the table, I think I'm going to pass out." Katy then responded, "Honey, you've been laying on the table too much."

After seeing the episode, Sara, who quit American Idol during Hollywood Week, reacted to the awkward exchange. "It was embarrassing to have that on TV," she said in a TikTok at the time. "It was hurtful. I think that women supporting and uplifting other women is so cool and I think that mom shaming is super lame. I think that it's hard enough to be a mom and it's hard enough to be a woman."

Katy has not responded to Sara Beth's video.

In addition to commenting on the alleged bullying, Oliver also noted the support he received from Katy during his time on American Idol.

"I remember being nervous at my audition, nervous during Hollywood week, hell even nervous throughout various points in the competition," he wrote. "Katy has an incredible ability to not just tell what emotional state you're in, but to be able to tell what's holding you back. I love all the judges, but Katy always seemed to be able to look into my soul and tell exactly what was troubling me, or what it was I was struggling with."

ABC/Eric McCandless

Oliver said that the singer reminded him to believe in who he us as an artist and encouraged him to challenge himself. He added, "I'm a better musician and artist after Katy Perry pushed me to believe in my potential, and to exceed my limitations."

He further encouraged Katy, who after the season 21 finale suggested she may not be returning for more, to remain on the show.

In his Instagram post, Oliver urged Katy to remain on the show. "@katyperry I dunno if you'll see this, but I hope you stay on American Idol," he wrote. "You're a guiding light, an incredible teacher. And you made me believe that I am my own hero. Thank you for everything."

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