Pop Culture

'Smash's' Katharine McPhee: 'American Idol' brought exposure, challenges

On the new musical drama "Smash," actress, singer and "American Idol" alum Katharine McPhee plays the part of one of two women vying for the role of Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe in a huge song-and-dance production. In a way, the part is familiar for McPhee. After all, she knows a thing or two about performing in a potentially career-changing talent face-off.

That's just what the McPhee did in 2006, when she made it all the way to the "Idol" finals, finishing in second place to crooner Taylor Hicks. Even without the win, her appearance in the competition was enough to get her noticed and eventually, it led her opportunities like "Smash." Still, looking back at it now, she sees "Idol" as a mixed opportunity.

"Since I came off 'Idol' – since before 'Idol,' I've been plugging away or pounding away, I should say, as an actress, trying to get people to see (me) in a different light," McPhee explained during a Monday morning visit to TODAY. "'Idol' was an amazing, great place for me to get exposure, but with that comes certain challenges."

Challenges such as being taken seriously as an actress after making her mark in music. But "Smash" seems to be the perfect opportunity for McPhee to make the most by merging her talents.  And better still, according to McPhee, it's an effort she's truly proud to be part of.

"It's always hard to watch yourself on TV, but I really do feel proud of just the entire show and all of our amazing cast," she said. "It really is a special show. It's one of the things I'm most proud of that I've ever done in my professional career."

See just what it is McPhee's so proud of when the next episode of 'Smash' airs Monday night at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.

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