Katy Allen: Media (Part 2)

The Idol's wife have dream of her own --- by: Tammy Keith (Arkansas Life)
Katy Allen seems to have it all. The-23-years-old is pretty and petite - 5 foot 4 with impossibly hair. She talented (she's acts), athletic (she was cheerleader and swimmer) and smart (all A's in collage). She was homecoming queen, for crying out loud. And she got the guy who just happen to be American Idol. Katy is the outgoing, focused wife and high school sweetheart of the quieter laid-back Kris Allen, 24, who won the eighth season of the popular television show.

She kind of woman who could inspire jealousy in other woman, except she just so darn nice. Friend, Heather Clarke, who has known Katy since fourth grade explain it. "You want to hate her, but you can't. I always said she was the girl who could do everything ... but she's the sweetest thing, and she's not conceited at all"

Exhibit A: She thanks everyone on the photo shoot repeatedly, hugs some goodbye, ask for an address so she can send the make up artist a thank-you note and apologizes for taking so long --- which she didn't. Part of it come from her upbringing. As southerners say "she was raised right"


Katherine Elizabeth O'connell --- known as Katy to her friends, family and now the world --- was born July 9, 1986, in North Carolina to Peggy and Peter O'Connell, a school teacher and now-retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who is an instructor pilot at Little Rock Air Force Base. Katy has a brother, Tim, who is two years older than she and flies C-130s Little Rock Air Force Base, and 16-years-old twin sisters, Kristen and Megan.

Katy with her brother Tim and one of the twin, Kristen
Peter remember his firstborn daughter as "very social," a tiny gymnast with "little short bangs and bright, bright blond" hair. Katy's parent moved to Germany when she was a baby, and one of her father's favorite stories about his daughter happened there. "I don't think she was even 2 yet, probably a year, 1 ½, and she already talked very well," he says. She slept in a crib in the room with her brother. "She would climb out the crib, so the next morning we'd find her in the bed with Timothy --- he was 3 ½ or 4."

To keep her from hurting herself and from falling down one of several staircases in the somewhat unusual home, her father says they put an expandable gate on top of Katy's crib. "After a couple months, she [Peggy] started to leave, and little Katy looked up and said, 'Mom, uh, you forgot to put my gate up," he recalls. They decided then that Katy probably need her own bed, Peter says, laughing. "She was pretty precocious."

After three years in Germany, the family lived in Sherwood from the time Katy was 3 until 5, moved to Virginia and then back to Arkansas, this time to stay, in Jacksonville. Katy was 9 and in fourth grade.

Katy with Peggy (blue), brother, and aunt
Peggy, who talks in a fast, never-met-a-stranger way, says when she thinks Katy as a child, she thinks of her as "always going." "For me, my memories of Katy were, 'You want to do that, too? You already have this much on your plate,'" her mother recalls. "She took dance; we went to dance recitals," her mother says. Katy also took gymnastics and later become a cheerleader.

Although her mother was a taxi service in those years, Katy wasn't spoiled. If she wanted a pair of jeans her mother considered too expensive, "she'd pay half," Peggy says. And Katy usually knew exactly what she wanted. Determined is a word that pops up in conversation when anyone starts talking about Katy. Her father says she is an organizer, and when she get her mind made up to do something, "she goes to it."

Katy with Peter

"You should have been here last summer when we were getting ready for the wedding. She was handling all the details." Even Kris, on the couple's wedding website, described his longtime girlfriend as " a very determined person," along with "smart, beautiful and great to be around." When asked to describe herself in three words --- Katy chooses "determined" as one.

And although her husband is the current performer, Katy also has had dreams of being in the spotlight. "I remember being like 3, and maybe I was older than that, but I remember being a little girl and watching Shirley Temple and being obsessed with her --- she could sing and tap and and act. I wanted to be like her, except I couldn't sing. "So, I did the dancing and acting."

Katy also performed in Arkansas Arts Center Children's Theater plays, including "How To Eat Fried Worms" when she was in fourth or fifth grade. " The main character in the book swings out in a swing over the audience, and that's what Katy's role was. She started the play by swinging out over the audience. It was exhilarating," Peggy recalls.

She participated in gymnastics in Jacksonville and was on the swimming team in Sherwood each summer as well as her freshman year at Mills University Studies High School in Little Rock. Add to that, the soccer team and good grades in gifted and talented classes. Although she doesn't consider herself musical, Katy played the violin from fourth grade through her senior year and "wasn't horrible," she admits.

Henry Anderson Jr., who taught English language and composition at Mills High School, recalls Katy from his class. "She was outgoing, but she very structured and focused. If she didn't do well on an assignment, she wanted to know where she went wrong. She wanted to know, 'What do I need to fix?' She wanted to do well," and she did, he says.

Julie Dornblaser of Jacksonville and Katy were cheerleaders together at Mills High School. "We were as close as can be throughout high school," Julie says, adding that they served on Student Council and acted in Arts Center plays together too. "She's very, very outgoing and bubbly person. She's the one of those people where, even she's in bad mood, I'm not sure you'd able to tell it by the look on her face and what she says. She always seems to be in good mood and doesn't let things get her down"


Both Katy and Kris attended Collage Station Elementary School in Pulaski County Special School District, where Katy's mother is fourth-grade gifted and talented teacher. " They met in fourth grade on the playground," Peggy says, but it was few years before Katy notice Kris in a different way.

Katy says she and Kris' younger brother by 13 months, Daniel, were in he same grade and were on the Mills cheer-leading squad together. They ran around with the same group of friends, and Katy recalls the first spark of interest she had in Kris. "That summer I turned 15, I had birthday party at my house -- it was big birthday party, a birthday party with one of my other friends who had same birthday." There was a cookout in the backyard, and all the girls' friends, including Daniel, were invited, but not Kris. "Kim, Daniel's mom come to pick him up, Kris was with her. I remember thinking "Oooh, Kris Allen is cute," Katy says. They also played in the orchestra together and the attraction grew. "I couldn't tell you exactly what attracted me to Kris. He was cute, a nice guy, he didn't seem fake or overbearing," she says.

The Daniel invited Katy and other friends to the lake, but it turned out that just Katy was able to go. Daniel says he knows the exact moment "she fell in love with my brother." He recalls that they rode with his and Kris' parents, Kim and Neil Allen, and Katy sat between Kris and him. She and Kris started singing a song together, Daniel saw something connect. Katy says, "I remember that Coyote Ugly soundtrack (Interesting fact: "All She Wants to Do Is Dance" also part of the OST. Mhm, just saying :D) was really popular and, for whatever reason, Kim and Neil had that. I'm not a good singer - I was goofing off. I was probably making Kris really uncomfortable - he was kind of quiet."
Although Katy says she is more talkative than Kris, "once you get to know him, he's very goofy, very fun, very up for anything. "I had crush on him - and it turned into something else," she says. They've been together almost ever since. They did break up a couple times, "nobody really expects you to get married in high school", Katy says. In what Katy says was a mutual decision, they broke up during the second part of his senior year of high school, and Kris got a scholarship to the University of Central Arkansas in Conway.

The breakup didn't last long, even with the long-distance relationship. "Halfway through his freshman year of college, we were back together," Katy says and she was senior in high school.

Peggy says when Katy was in high school, "she begged us to let her go to a university in New York to study acting." Katy's mother says they put Katy off, saying, 'Oh, don't you want to do acting after you do some other career field with more stability?"

Katy says she wasn't going to go to collage based on where her boyfriend was and she enrolled in University of Arkansas in Fayetteville where she received a scholarship. She majored in marketing, with a minor in psychology, was a founding member of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority chapter and homecoming queen in 2007.

Kris proposed by leaving "do-you-remember-when?"- notes hidden under benches at the square in Fayetteville. She followed a series of five notes, then Kris appeared with a guitar and sang a song he wrote for her, which ended with proposal. They married in September (26) 2008, a wedding on the river in Maumelle at which Katy arrived with her father in a 1949 Cadillac.

The newlyweds moved into a loft apartment in downtown Conway. Katy got a job at Axicom in Little Rock and Kris was a worship leader at New Life Church in Conway and Little Rock. Kris had interrupted his collage career to focus on his music, but it didn't appear to be taking off. Then in July 2008, Kris went with his brother to American Idol tryouts and the road to stardom began.


Katy says Kris wanted to earn a living making music. "I don't think he ever wanted to be a star," she says. "I think originally, he was, 'I want to write music. I want to make a CD." And he did that before making it on American Idol -- a CD called Brand New Shoes.

Katy had been telling her parent about Kris' talent since they started dating. Her parent admit, somewhat embarrassed that they didn't realize how good he was until he was on the show. "I feel a little guilty Katy tried to tell us all these years how talented he was -- we were like, 'Oh, that's nice dear.' I'm afraid we had to watch just like the rest of the country," Peggy says. Peter adds with a laugh, "Katy was always trying to get [Kris] to sing to us, because she thought he was really great. She would make him him sing a song for us. He sang at my mom and dad's 50th anniversary thing. He doesn't like singing in small group so we were all just kind of like, 'He's okay, but he's not all that great.'

"It wasn't until he put his album out - Brand New Shoes - we went to the CD release party. And we were used to this quiet kind of guy, and you get him on stage, and he's a whole different person. We were impressed we were like, he really does have some talent - an awesome ability with guitar," Peter continues.

"The Arkansas music scene isn't amazing," he says. "After a year, it didn't make sense to be playing in a bar for three hours with people not listening. I was ready to give up." Katy had other ideas. "She was like, 'No, I'll be your manager. I'll make this happen.' She would stay at the bar while I was playing until 2 in the morning." -- [Kris Allen @ People Magazine, June 8, 2009]
Peggy says she's a big fan, voted "diligently" after every show and loves all Kris' songs. Katy and Kris have a huge circle of friends, she says. "It was fun to be the mom of Katy - even though the show was about American Idol - I can't tell you how many people watched for Katy. We watched the show to get a peek of Katy as much as anything else," Peggy says.

As a Mother's Day present, Peggy got to go to Hollywood the week before finale. Peter stayed home with the twins. Each Idol contestant was given four tickets per show, Peggy says, and Daniel gave up his tickets so Peggy could attend the Tuesday and Wednesday night show that week.

One night, Katy decided to get a key to Kris' room so she and her mother could wait for him there. The man at the desk looked at Katy' driver's license and gave her two keys. Peggy says, "We just let ourselves in his room. It was like walking into a rock star's room. He had this huge keyboard, and on there was the music to "Apologize." It was so neat to see all of his little notes for all different parts of the song and his keyboard was still on. "She and Katy got the idea to surprise Kris, who was recording the winner song, "No Boundaries," by being in his room when he got back. "He had been up since God knows when that morning, and he comes in fresh as a daisy," Peggy says.

Peggy, like Daniel and Katy, was an Adam Lambert fan, too. "I talked with Adam several times. He said, "I know you want a pressure - let's go ahead and get it over," Peggy says. "Adam is as nice as a person as you saw on TV. Katy says if Kris hadn't made it, she would have rooted for Adam. "I love all of them, but Adam would have been my pick. I really admired his talent, although I think they were all talented and deserve success in life," Katy says.

Katy says Tuesday night, when Kris performed, were the hardest. "I was always nervous on the performance days - that really rattled me up - the pressure of one and 30 seconds and judges being able to say whatever they wanted in front of millions of people. I was never nervous on result show days," she says. The night Kris won, "I really was calm." Katy says she didn't doubt if Kris could get through the first round, he could make it all the way.

Although some people - especially newlyweds - might have trouble adjusting to being suddenly thrust in the spotlight, Katy has taken it in stride. "It has not been hard for me at all. I feel very, very lucky." Katy also says she doesn't led....... (unreadable) to Kris. It did bother her at first when people criticized Kris, but she says she quickly developed thick skin. " I don't read the blogs, I used to read them - I read them during the show, and the after the show I thought enough is enough," Katy says. "I don't look at all - I don't even get on a fan site for Kris. Back when Kris was on American Idol, and he showed up for five seconds on TV and everyone had this opinion that he was just this cute guy, [but] everyone can't say what they want. I think Kris going to prove them wrong. I think he has consistently proven people wrong".


Katy says she and Kris want children someday, and although they still had their "awesome" loft apartment in Conway in July and had considered building a home, they aren't sure where they will end up living. (Now is very clear that they will live in Arkansas - edited). After six week sabbatical, Katy started back to work for Axicom in July.

She plans to take acting classes in Los Angeles and pursue acting "as much as I can." "I have always love to act since I was a young kid, and it's really great to be in LA where I can pursue it on bigger level." Katy says her favorite role was in a production called "Zastrozzi The Master of Discipline" at the University of Arkansas, "because it was really dark and twisted story. I thought it was to get to be something that was so obviously not how I am in real life. I liked challenge."

Her director in that production, Rex Austin, who taught theater this past year at a private collage in Georgia, says being the American Idol's wife might get her into auditions, but her talent will do the rest. "She has kind of natural talent for it and a knack for it, it's kind of hard to find," says Barrow, who previously lived in Los Angeles and acted in theater and film.

"She has that ability to draw people to her -- she is the one of those people who just draws your attention when she comes into the room." Barrow says Katy was unique in that she was "love interest" "She was great in it," Barrow says, easier to direct than some of the student who had take acting classes. "She was willing to try anything. She was in a choreographed fight with one of the other girls - a knife fight - she did very, very well, and I was surprised."

Peggy says people come up to her "all the time" worried about the young couple, but she assures them they're handling the pressure, especially her fearless daughter. "She's loving everything - this isn't scary at all for her." Katy says she get her confidence from her parents. "My parent were very big believers in teaching us to achieve and do a lot. Mom is the kind of person, she doesn't let stuff faze her. She's not afraid to be different. She knows what she wants. She knows who she is." Katy adds, "I might still be figuring that out."

More From Katy Allen 

Favorite Childhood Memories
Acting in plays at the [Arkansas Arts Center] Children's Theater
Actress you admire
Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts and Reese Witherspoon 
Favorite movie
Remember The Titans - I really like sports movie actually!
A perfect evening with Kris
Doing something relaxing like going to the beach and eating at a good restaurant. We love to just go on walks and find new places.
Annoying habits
I talk loudly when the phone, and that will drive me crazy
What you love most about Kris
How accepting he is of others, how loyal he is, how down-to-earth he is.
Favorite song Kris sings
"Beautiful Mess" by Jason Mraz
What you remember most from the Idol ride
The moment when he made top three and we knew he was going to do home story back in Arkansas.
Funniest thing that happened during this experience
Having to sign a little girl's arm during the home story. She couldn't get Kris' [autograph], so I guess she thought she would have me sign mine, but she didn't have any paper.
Something most people don't know about you
I almost majored in journalism and considered being a news anchor.
One thing you want people to remember about Kris and you
Just that we are grateful for everyone who has supported us through the whole process!

Team Arkansas Life:
Photography by: Melisa Smock Clouette
Hair by: K2K Salon/Spa, Conway
Make Up by: EL Clinical Esthetics, Conway
Dress courtesy of Luxe, Hot Springs

Full snap/scan from here (by beautifulxmoon)


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