BEVERLY — If there was ever a time for a teenager to lose her head, it would be on a day when thousands of people gathered in her hometown to lavish her with cheers and screams.
A year removed from working the counter at Chick-fil-A at the Northshore Mall in Peabody, Angie Miller returned home Saturday as an instantly recognizable TV and social media star with a chance to achieve even-greater fame.
But despite all of the hoopla surrounding her visit, she lived up to her reputation among those who know her as a poised young woman who remains down-to-earth and genuine.
During a short break from her whirlwind hometown visit, Miller said her main goal is not to sell lots of records but to be a good role model for girls who look up to her.
“The reason I want this is just to be an example and an inspiration,” Miller said in a press conference at Centerville School. “I don’t care about the things I sell. I just want to be an example through my words and music. ... It pushes me harder to not be stupid or trashy.”
Miller said she struggled with self-confidence all through high school and was not considered popular.
“I thought I wasn’t good enough,” she said. “I want people to know that confidence is such a big thing. If you have it, you can accomplish your dreams.”
Miller talked about the thrill of returning home for a weekend after spending months inside “the ‘American Idol’ bubble.” She has spent most of her time in Hollywood, rooming with fellow contestant Kree Harrison and rehearsing and performing on the show.
“It feels like this is home,” she said. “It’s amazing to see all my friends who’ve been there since day one. It’s not just my fans, it’s my friends and family. That’s huge.”
Asked about the large crowd that was already gathering for her concert at the high school, Miller said. “It’s weird that people care enough to do that, because I don’t feel like anything’s different. While I’m here in Beverly, I want to enjoy this day. I want to forget the competition and focus on this in Beverly.”
Miller has received generally rave reviews from the “American Idol” judges. She admitted it took time to deal with their criticism when it finally arrived.
“I realized that any negative comments you just need to brush off your shoulder,” she said. “It’s hard not to get wrapped up in the negative, but you just have to. ... I’ve learned a lot about myself musically. Just a year ago, I was not even the lead in the musical (at Beverly High).”
Miller said she will have skin graft surgery sometime after the “American Idol” competition to repair her eardrum, which she said is 75 percent gone. She has been dealing with hearing loss since she was a child.
“You learn to work with that,” she said.
As for her future, Miller will go on the “American Idol” tour starting in June, regardless of the outcome of the final three weeks of the competition. The “Idol” winner will come out with an album six weeks after the show ends, she said.
“Hopefully,” she said, “I’ll be in the studio.”