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Graduate hopes to be named the first 'All-American Girl'

March 26, 2003

By Matt Russell

Kristi Foster has the chance to show the world what she's made of.

Foster graduated from Baylor in December 2002 with a major in vocal performance. She now is vying for the next round on ABC's new reality show All-American Girl.

Already in the third round of the competition, Foster is running on adrenaline.

'It seems like every night when I get in bed I'm still excited,' Foster said. 'It hasn't worn on me yet.'

All-American Girl is another of the reality television concepts with the addition of a new twist: talent and brains. Shows such as American Idol examine talent alone. The All-American Girl concept combines beauty, intelligence, talent and personality. The premise is that the more qualified candidates are more likely to advance.

The show is hosted by Mitch Mullaney and has three coaches who oversee the competition. Former NBA player John Salley, former Motown Records Executive Suzanne de Passe and Geri Halliwell of the Spice Girls make up the panel.

The competition began when contestants were selected from a nationwide search, but Foster said she nearly missed her chance.

After graduating, Foster said she was searching the Internet for an audition to showcase her musical talents.

'I saw the audition tape three or four different times on different Web sites, but I had already missed the audition in Austin,' Foster said.

As she read more about All-American Girl she discovered that girls who missed the live auditions could enter by submitting a videotape. Foster went home, filmed herself singing a song from the designated list and sent the tape to ABC. She received a call that Wednesday.

'They asked me all kinds of questions,' she said. 'I was really relaxed in the interview because I really didn't think I was going to make it. I was just goofing off with them. I guess they liked it because two days after that they called again and told me I made it.'

Foster was selected out of thousands of girls to be one of 45 contestants for the Los Angeles-based show.

This came as no surprise to Foster's boyfriend, Josh Grider, a Las Cruces, N.M., senior.

'Personality aside, she's a phenomenal musician,' he said. 'She's got an awesome voice and a high-on-life attitude. You can't get her down.'

Those qualities have carried Foster to her spot in the competition. In her fight to be the ultimate Renaissance woman, Foster breezed through the first round. The contestants were asked to pick two talents and then perform. Foster showed her vocal prowess by performing an opera piece and another number accompanied by piano.

The field of 45 was narrowed to 24.

'First of all, I was surprised I made it to the top 45,' she said. 'I was shocked when I made it to the 24.'

However, the second round wasn't easy.

After the second round, which included an obstacle course, a general knowledge quiz, dancing and a personality challenge, the field had to be lowered to 15 (five girls for each coach).

'I really didn't feel like I showed them what I could do,' she said.

As the panel of judges started to select girls for their respective teams no one raised their hand for Foster.

'I thought I had been cut,' she said.

However, there were still two spots available. The girls who were passed over earlier were called back to the stage. With her final pick, Halliwell selected Foster.

'When I made it to the final 15, I was like...why me?' she said. 'It was kind of like a dream.'

Foster will move into the third round with a lot of support behind her.

Seth Allen, a Waco senior and a close friend of Foster's, spoke highly of her talent.

'Kristi is very, very talented,' Allen said. 'She has a great voice and a phenomenal ear.'

Foster hopes one day to write and record her own music. Winning the All-American girl competition could bring her one step closer to her goals.

'I hope to make the next cut and then get to the finals,' Foster said.

She said she has learned to toughen up throughout the competition as well.

'You get a lot of criticism,' she said. 'At first I took it to heart and would get upset. But now I realize the more I let it roll of my back the better I do in the competition.'

How far Foster will make it is uncertain, but her attitude and talent may carry her far.

All-American Girl can be seen at 9 p.m. Wednesdays on ABC.