New ‘American Idol’ Judge Kara DioGuardi Insists She Fits In

'It took a minute to be yourself,' she says of adding to the three-person panel.

Being the new kid is never easy, and “American Idol” rookie Kara DioGuardi will have millions of people watching her every move when she debuts on the show Tuesday. So how is the new judge fitting in with the time-tested trio of Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson?

“It took a minute to be yourself and also find a place in the show where you weren’t at all detracting from the people around you or inhibiting them in any way,” DioGuardi said in a conference call with reporters Thursday (January 8). “It’s something I’m still working on. I think I’m there”

Her transition hasn’t been completely bump-free. “I would talk over people a lot, because I didn’t really know when to talk. ‘When do I speak? Who’s speaking now?’ ” DioGuardi recalled thinking during her first few days.

Abdul was able to bring her fellow female judge back to life. “Paula was like, ‘You need to be yourself.’ Because in the beginning, the first city, I didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes, which is really not my personality,” DioGuardi said. “I usually just say what I feel and do what I want. … But at the beginning, I was like, ‘There are all these cameras and all these people!’ And Paula turned to me and said, ‘Um, are you gonna be you?’ [Laughs.] And I got the message.”

DioGuardi acknowledged — just as executive producer Ken Warwick had previously told us — that she and Paula have been natural allies. “There’s a little girl power going on,” she laughed.

She also said she relates to Simon — at least occasionally. “I definitely can sometimes see where Simon’s coming from, [though] I may not have said it quite the way he said it,” DioGuardi said. “But I also do believe in second chances early on. I know that if I hadn’t had a second chance, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

“But third chances? Uh, that’s another story,” she laughed.

DioGuardi knows that the three-person dynamic has worked over the past seven seasons, but she’s pretty sure there’s a place for her in the mix. “I think I’m a combination of all of them,” she said. “I do like to say it like I see it. I don’t really mince words. I do feel I have a heart. And when you’re dealing with creative people who have some talent, you want to make sure that you encourage them, but also, if they don’t have any talent, you want to discourage them, because you don’t want them to waste their time. I may say things that are negative, but I always try to do it with heart and some understanding of what it’s like to be on the other side of the table.”

So have Simon, Paula and Randy put Kara through any sort of initiation into the “Idol” club? “No,” she laughed. “They may, though, still. Who knows?”

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