LOS ANGELES — Of all the former "American Idol" finalists, the last one you would expect to see at a juvenile detention center is sweet Jasmine Trias (Corey Clark, maybe).
But that's exactly where the third-season third-place finisher could be spotted a few weeks ago in Los Angeles. She wasn't serving time; she was talking to and hopefully inspiring troubled teens.
"This is something that I've always wanted to do," Trias said. "Not only do I want to sing, but I want to get that inspirational message out to people and let them know that they can also do it. They still have time to turn their lives around."
Since her stint on "Idol," Trias has also been speaking at grade schools in her home state of Hawaii, encouraging students to think about their future.
"I want to talk about how I was able to dream and make it a reality," Trias explained. "How I made the right decisions in life, how 'American Idol' changed my life, and what I'm doing now."
After Trias' "Idol" stint ended, she signed with Clockwork Entertainment (former home of girl group Dream) and released her self-titled debut. The album has so far sold nearly 15,000 copies in America.
All of the songs on the album, with the exception of the barnburner "DJ, Don't Quit," are about relationships, love and boys. Trias worked with songwriters on the album but also let out her own feelings in the material.
"I've been so busy where I haven't really had time to date or anything, but of course I kind of had some guy I was thinking of," Trias said with a laugh.
The track that means the most to Trias is Natalie Cole's "Inseparable," which she performed for the first time on "Idol."
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"It's been my signature song ever since," Trias said. "I always sing that song for my fans because they've supported me all the way through 'American Idol' and to this day."
Now Trias is hard at work on her second album, and she said fans can expect to see a different side of her on it.
"I might go a little edgier and put more of a personal touch on it," said Trias, who is exploring different genres. "Maybe write my own songs and put my own songs on the album."
While working on the second album, Trias is also pursuing an acting career. Her first acting experience was in the Philippines, where she was a guest star on Filipino comedy sketch show "OK Fine Whatever." Trias also starred in a short Filipino romance movie as the daughter of a well-to-do family who falls in love with the bodyguard her parents hired to protect her.
The film originated from a song on her first album. Trias said she was excited when she got the part because she was able to act in English and in Filipino.
"It was definitely a challenge for me, but it was so much fun to be on set and to see how all of that works," Trias said. "I'm so used to being in a recording studio, so this was a new experience for me."
Now Trias is trying to take that experience to the big screen in America.
"I'm auditioning for this role that's kind of like a cross between 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' and 'Lost in Translation' but targeting a Filipino audience," Trias said.
After "Idol," Trias visited the Philippines and was shocked by the crowd waiting for her at the airport.
"It was absolutely chaotic," Trias said. "It was a huge crowd of people, media everywhere, it was like a riot almost, and I was like, 'Is this for me?' "
Trias hopes to model her career after her idol, Jennifer Lopez.
"Fashion line, perfume line," Trias said. "I want to do it all."