Sweet-faced and sweet voiced Sanjaya Malakar was only 17 years old when he and his sister Shyamali auditioned for the 2007 season of American Idol in Seattle, WA. Both siblings made it past the judges and flew to Hollywood, but unfortunately, Shyamali didn't make the cut into the top 40 contestants, and the two parted tearfully. Sanjaya's wide smile, doe-eyed face, and cheerful timbre initially earned him a loyal following, but this earned him no concessions from the judges, who pushed him both to pick songs well suited to his style and to work on his energy and stage presence. In 2009 Malakar returned to the small screen as a contestant on I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!
Biography by Cammila Collar
- Was born in Washington state, but also lived in California and Hawaii while growing up; his family eventually settled in Federal Way, WA.
- Participated in Hawaii Children's Theatre productions in Lihue as a youth.
- Auditioned for Season 6 of American Idol in Seattle with his sister Shyamali. While they both made it through to the Hollywood round, Shyamali was cut on the final day.
- First person of Indian descent to make it to American Idol's Top 12.
- Was a contestant on I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! in 2009.