When Carrie Underwood won American Idol in its fourth season, no one could have guessed that she would become an iconic superstar. Underwood has amassed an impressive array of awards from Grammys to Country Music Awards and, all the while, remained as grounded as she was when she first auditioned for American Idol as an unknown talent from Oklahoma.
Underwood is appearing in her first film -- Soul Surfer -- the true life inspirational tale of surfer Bethany Hamilton. Hamilton was an up-and-coming surfing superstar in Hawaii when a shark took off her arm. Weeks after the accident, she was back in the water and would eventually make her way back to the top tier of surfers her age.
The former American Idol winner portrays Hamilton's church youth counselor and took the role because of its strong faith-based message, but also because of the young surfer's extraordinarily stirring tale.
She dishes Soul Surfer, Underwood's marriage to hockey star Mike Fisher and how American Idol is one of her most treasured memories.
Soul Surfing with Carrie Underwood!
SheKnows: Are you a surfer yourself?
Carrie Underwood: I've been surfing once in my entire life and I wasn't terrible at it [laughs], but my love for music is like the Hamilton family loves water. I understand it -- but I'll stick to music.
SheKnows: Can you wrap your head around how Bethany got right back in the water after her accident? Would you?
Carrie Underwood: It's tough to actually ask yourself that question because I have no idea what I would do. But I would hope that if there were some random voice accident that I would be able to go back to singing [laughs]. It's a tough thing to put myself in her shoes, but maybe other people will see the movie and stuff that they thought they couldn't do, they will be able to do it again.
SheKnows: I've read that you don't consider yourself a celebrity. Is that true?
Carrie Underwood: Well, first, I live in Nashville. When I'm on stage, I feel like a performer for sure. I know people are looking at me and taking pictures. That part's wonderful. But, I live the most boring life away from what you see me on camera doing. The other 300 days out of the year I'm just the most normal person in the universe. I'm a wife. I'm a mother to my doggies. I'm a maid -- I clean the house [laughs]. I'm pretty boring. I consider myself not a celebrity. I'm a normal person that sings on stage.
SheKnows: So, you wouldn't consider yourself a brand of sorts?
Carrie Underwood: Brand is a little different because like me, as Carrie the person, wanders around in sweat pants, then you have to be Carrie Underwood and I look like this [laughs as she shows off her flowery dress]. When I'm at home, I'm not wearing heels. I think if I were Carrie Underwood the brand everywhere, my friends wouldn't like me very much. You know what I mean? If I looked like this and always wore a lot of makeup, my friends would be like, "What are you doing? We're going to TGI Friday's!"
SheKnows: What do you make of the celebrity journalism world given the fact that journalism is your background originally?
Carrie Underwood: I know people are really interested in everything that the celebrities are doing, even if you don't consider yourself a "celebrity." What always would drive me crazy is -- I took ethics classes in college -- and it always amazes me how there would blatantly be something that I did not say in quotation marks. If you're putting quotation marks around it, it better be exactly what that person said. It just gets so frustrating that it seems anybody can make up whatever they want to and say you said it, and there's nothing you can do about it. But, then you can use your celebrity power to do good in the world, too, so I guess it all evens out.
SheKnows: How do you think your style has changed over the years?
Carrie Underwood: I try to dress appropriate to the event that I'm going to. Some events are more elegant and some events you can be a little more edgy and have fun with it. The style thing has evolved because I have more options now. Before, I wore things that belonged to my friends or my sisters or something. I still have hand me downs from my sisters [laughs]. They're a decade older than me. Yeah, so that tells you something.
Carrie Underwood on the set
SheKnows: What surprised you most about being on the Soul Surfer set, your first?
Carrie Underwood: It's just so funny how kind of sterile things can be. You're trying to be in the moment, but there are 50 people watching you at any given time. I've always done video shoots and stuff like that, but that's a smaller scale and there are not really lines you have to memorize. But everyone was super nice and made me feel very comfortable for my first movie role.
SheKnows: You wanted to be a part of this film, even sought it out. What about Bethany's story made you want to be a part of Soul Surfer?
Carrie Underwood: I had heard that they were making a movie about Bethany Hamilton. I got a script, and I got the book, and I got DVDs and all kinds of information about Bethany and her story. When I read the script, I definitely wanted to be involved. It's such an inspirational story. Just to be a part of telling that was enough for me.
SheKnows: How perfect is this role for you as Bethany's youth counselor and was it nice that it is a smaller role?
Carrie Underwood: You know I feel like so many people -- especially when they're coming over from the music world -- jump into a starring role and usually end up being made fun of, right? I know that music is my life, is my strong point, that's my love, and this seemed perfect. It's a small role, but a very important role. The whole success of the film does not weigh on my shoulders as an actress. It was perfect.
The power of film
SheKnows: You play Bethany's youth leader. Was there a special youth counselor in your life?
Carrie Underwood: I had various ones throughout my church. But I would say my role model as far as just somebody leading by example -- which to me is what a great youth counselor does -- if it was someone who was there to talk to and they lead by example, it would be my mom. And she wasn't a youth counselor. She was a teacher and she is a good person and definitely one of the biggest influences in my life.
SheKnows: Can you tell us about the initial meeting, when you met Bethany?
Carrie Underwood: I met her on set. It was all so quick. One minute we're talking about the movie, and the next minute I'm flying out to Hawaii. She didn't hang around the set too much. She just wanted to surf [laughs]!
Carrie Underwood on Idol
SheKnows: How does being on American Idol rank for you?
Carrie Underwood: It's a phenomenon. American Idol, it's the biggest television show of my generation, to be a part of the show and to be part of the brand and to be a part of everything that's come in since then. When you think of American Idol, there are a few people that you think of and I'm very honored to be one of those people.
SheKnows: You seem to be one of the American Idol winners that doesn't mind coming back. Could you talk about that and what you think of this season?
Carrie Underwood: I think the season's going along really well with the new judges, with Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. I feel like Randy [Jackson] has stepped it up and he's a little more honest. Steven is much more warm and caring than I ever expected this rocker guy to be. I think he's very charming. J-Lo obviously looks gorgeous. It's like week to week she's more and more opinionated. I think other people are enjoying them as well. It's a good crop of contestants; they're all very different.
SheKnows: And going back on the show?
Carrie Underwood: I do enjoy going back because that is the only reason I'm in the music business, period. That's why I do what I do now, because of that show.
Carrie Underwood: Babies?
SheKnows: Do you feel the pressure of getting pregnant after you and Mike Fisher got married?
Carrie Underwood: No, we just got married! I haven't even been married a year yet. I always wanted to be married for a little while before a baby. You know what? It does make me choose my wardrobe differently because if I wear something a little baggy, I'm like, "No, it looks like I'm having a baby!" [Laughs] It does make me kind of think a little extra. I don't want people assuming that I am pregnant, until I say that I am. I'm 28. We've got plenty of time.