Aubrey O’ Day first busted onto the scene in 2005 when she competed on the MTV reality show Making the Band. From the very first episode, Executive Producer Sean “Diddy” Combs took an obvious shine to Aubrey, showering her with praise and compliments from the start. O’Day was considered the breakout star and quickly became a fan favorite with teen girls even showing up sporting “Team Aubrey” t-shirts and posters outside the MTV studios. Even when Diddy ended the first season by saying he was unable to piece together his ideal girl group, he kept Aubrey around, using her as an example to set the bar high for competitors in the following season. Eventually Aubrey did make the band, thus starting her adventures as a pop star, reality television specimen, men’s magazine model and controversial media personality.
(Aubrey O’Day, before and after)
(Aubrey poses with Danity Kane and P Diddy at the season finale of Making the Band 3 in 2005)
In just a few months, O’Day went from being an unknown college drop-out and wannabe star, to becoming one of the most notorious and scrutinized personalities in pop culture. So how did she get there?
According to the Los Angeles Times “When Aubrey O’Day was a child, growing up in the desert city of La Quinta, she was bullied.” Aubrey tells tales of being called a slut, feeling like she didn’t fit in and having a desire for fame at an early age. Despite being considered a sharp child, Aubrey preferred the allure of stardom over the boredom of books.
(High School photos of Aubrey O’Day as a high school student in La Quinta)
In order to escape torture from her peers, or maybe to receive the validation that comes with the spotlight, Aubrey found the approval she needed on stage. As young girl she played lead characters in various musicals, including Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Carmen in Fame, Sandy in Grease,Liesl in The Sound of Music, Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof and Mimi in Rent. She also appeared in a production of Annie.
(Aubrey in earlier days of stardom)
After high school Aubrey enrolled in UC Irvine to major in political science but she reportedly dropped out when she was offered the chance of a lifetime: To appear as a contestant on MTV’s biggest new musical competition show, which was produced by her childhood idol, Sean “Diddy” Combs.
(Aubrey photographed during season 3 of Making the Band)
Aubrey shined during the competition, becoming the barometer for new talent on MTV. When Danity Kane was formed, Aubrey was given the ultimate compliment when Diddy told her and the rest of America:
“You’ve been like a captain of the group to me just by leading by example. You’ve displayed the hunger and perseverance that it takes to be a super star. I built this group around you!”
(Aubrey sported a more demure look when she started out in Danity Kane)
Aubrey got off to a great start with Danity Kane, but after a while things got rocky. In October 2008 Aubrey was reportedly kicked out of the band after appearing in an overtly sexual photo shoot for Complex Magazine. In her accompanying interview with Complex she told the magazine that she likes to watch porn as a hobby and that her favorite porn star is Jenna Jameson, who she also cited as a close friend. Many people saw this as an open, honest and a fun look into the mind of a chick who’s not afraid to tell the truth about her life. She was in essence, literally and figuratively baring it all for the magazine. Other people lashed out, calling the Complex shoot pornographic, way too sexual and accused her of being a fame whore who is desperate for attention.
Whether it was her salacious photo shoot or her increasingly obvious self-promotion that got her kicked out of Danity Kane has always been subject for debate. Many say Diddy was becoming irritated with her in general, and was upset that she put her own desire for attention before the collective good of the band. Danity Kane band member Dawn Richards tried to set the record straight, telling US Weekly Magazine it was the Complex Magazine incident that pushed Puff Daddy over the edge. According to Richards:
“Puff did not like [O'Day's] image…where her image was going for the group. We had just did a signing with Dollhouse Teen, which is for 13, 14-year-old young girls, So we can’t do that one day and then the next day do an obnoxious cover…. [Diddy] wants the fans, and he says he can’t do that if we can continue to go in the direction that we were going.”
(Diddy is not a happy camper while on stage at the Making the Band season finale)
To some fans, Dawn seemed like a traitor for speaking out against O’Day. It’s also important to point out that Diddy frequently raps about things inconsistent with childhood values (fame, sexual exploits, spending outrageous amounts of money, his love for Ciroc Vodka) yet a large portion of the demographic purchasing his music are teen boys. It’s also interesting that he takes such issue with one of the women he “owns” owning her sexuality in such a brazen way. Combs certainly has the right to set the expectations for a group he’s so highly invested in, but it’s not a good look to set such different standards for men and women.
Reasons for her departure became clearer when during the live finale of Making the Band, Diddy told viewers the reason he let Aubrey go was that she was not the same person he signed and he thinks that fame had changed her.Aubrey’s response to the accusations was emotional saying “I would rather be hated every damn day of my life for being real than loved for being something I’m not.”
In a backstage interview before the Making the Band finale, Aubrey made it clear she would not let this setback stop her. “Tonight is a representation of the end of a chapter in my life; it’s not the end of the book. I will do everything possible to make my mark on this industry…”
(All smiles despite tumultuous times at the Making the Band 4 live finale)
The world would soon know this was not the end of Aubrey O’ Day. In fact, after she left Danity Kane the demand for Aubrey seemed to skyrocket. Some people say her sense of self-importance and ego skyrocketed right along with the demand.
(Aubrey enjoying the limelight on the red carpet)
Kate Aurthur, reporter for the LA Times recalls “Getting to O’Day was not easy. It took a 20-e-mail exchange with MTV to get into direct contact with her management, agency PR and label PR. Then another 35 e-mails went into setting up the interview and photo shoot. “
Unfortunately, demand for interviews or getting invited to “cool parties” doest always translate to paying work, and friends say her post Danity Kane days were a financially difficult time for Aubrey. As she told the LA Times “I’m, like, this far away from working the street corners.”
(Hi! I’m invited to parties! As a post Danity Kane member, Aubrey attends a Hollywood event in 2009)
Aubrey’s post Danity Kane career was one filled with interesting turns. On one hand she was landing well-respected and coveted roles such as starring as Amber Von Tussle in the Broadway musical Hairspray. She also appeared in a Vegas peep show and recorded a track with Donnie Wahlberg. In 2011 she was given her own reality show “All About Aubrey” on Oxygen.
(On stage in the Broadway production of Hairspray)
(On the red carpet at the premier of her Oxygen show All About Aubrey)
Despite keeping busy and earning street-cred as a Broadway star, the public seemed way more fascinated with her off camera lifestyle. Perhaps it comes with the territory when you appear as the subject of so many reality shows, but O’Day became a woman just on the edge of the spotlight, with more notoriety as a gossip column staple and camera-whore than recipient of critical acclaim.
If you search for “Aubrey O’Day” on the internet you will find more of an obsession with her ever-changing-looks, fashion choices and personal life rather than her music. In most online articles and blog posts people speculate about her plastic surgery, partying and whether at any given time Aubrey having a full blown meltdown. Too much Botox, a boob job, a possible nose job, enhanced lips and a whole lot of weave were all the subject of discussion and scrutiny. Perez Hilton called O’Day a “skank” and Dlisted has gone so far as to call her a “tranny sewer rat.”
(Bloggers write that Aubrey is looking more and more “enhanced”)
(A cuter, more demure Aubrey sporting an adorable look at Mercedes-Benz fashion week)
(Aubrey’s body was a topic for much discussion after she posed on the red carpet in a bikini)
Tired of the rumors (or perhaps delighted by the rumors), Aubrey answers questions about her surgical exploits in this video:
In February 2012 Aubrey O’ Day joined the cast of The Celebrity Apprentice.
Since the start of the show, O’Day has arguably received the most air-time of any other contestant and a very ambivalent edit. She’s been an extremely polarizing character, with her co-stars, fans, critics and the media making comments ranging from calling her a stellar player, a beauty with brains and an evil genius to others describing her as narcissistic, self-centered, ridiculous, evil, and even vicious.
(Love her or hate her, Aubrey has been considered the driving force behind nearly all of her team’s wins – and she doesn’t let the viewers forget that!)
Many have picked her to win the entire competition, while others openly hope she goes down in flames. With only a few episodes of this season of The Celebrity Apprentice remaining, only Donald Trump knows whether Aubrey will hear the words “You’re Hired!”
(Aubrey is comforted by Debbie Gibson after some tears in the boardroom)
So what’s next for Aubrey O’Day?
An interesting struggle takes place when simply “being famous” becomes the focus of your life. Someone with extraordinary gifts can become so consumed by stardom that their talent is overshadowed by their own unbridled ambition. Aubrey proved that she wants to be in the spotlight at any cost, and that may have contributed to why there’s so little focus on her talent and so much emphasis on her outrageous personality. There’s no doubt Aubrey is a star, but which direction this star will “shoot” is highly dependent on her end goal. Does she want to be known for her talent, or does she simply want to be known?
As said by The Black Sheep “The choice is yours…”