Talent Recap

Just Sam Returns to National TV on ‘The Tamron Hall Show’

Just Sam on 'American Idol'ABC via Getty Images

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Nearly four years after winning American Idol, Samantha Diaz, known as Just Sam, reclaimed the national stage thanks to two celebrities moved by the singer’s struggles after American Idol. Rapper Ja Rule brought Sam to The Tamron Hall Show in January 2024 for an emotional performance that spotlighted Sam’s immense talent.


Just Sam Returns to National TV

In May 2020, Just Sam made history as the first openly LGBTQ+ and non-binary winner of American Idol. Due to COVID-19, the 20-year-old sang from their hotel room instead of the live stage. Sam’s recent soaring rendition of “Rise Up” brought viewers to tears.

After the show, Sam returned to New York and lost their record deal as the industry shut down. Soon, headlines emerged that the former champ was busking in the subway to survive. Sam’s talent seemed squandered.

Learning of Sam’s plight, rap legend Ja Rule volunteered to bring them on Tamron Hall’s talk show. He knew the exposure could help revive Sam’s career.


In January 2024, a nervous but grateful Sam again performed “Rise Up,” bringing Hall and the audience to tears. The rendition reminded the country of Sam’s vocal gifts.

Afterward, an emotional Sam hugged Ja Rule and Hall, thanking them for the opportunity. Sam later posted about the “blessing” of returning to TV and connecting with the supportive stars.

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Ja Rule Says The Singers’ Talent Deserves Recognition

Ja Rule explained to Hall his motivation was from seeing untapped talents like Sam struggle when they deserve success. He cited his own mentorship of singer Ashanti, wanting to “pay forward” that guidance.


The rapper highlighted the fickle nature of fame, where even Oscar-worthy skills go unnoticed. But he saw Sam’s rich potential, calling them a “star.” Ja was determined to share his platform so Sam’s abilities could inspire again.

Hall Commits to Supporting the American Idol winner

Host Tamron Hall also emotionally promised Sam this appearance was “just the beginning.” She emphasized Ja Rule and many others now have Sam’s back on the journey moving forward.

Hall clearly found the performance powerful, echoing Ja Rule’s confidence in Sam’s talents. Her show can provide a nurturing space for Sam to rebuild their career.

Having Ja Rule spearhead the charge also adds legitimacy. His stellar track record for identifying stars like Ashanti proves his eye for talent.

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