The New Paper: David Archuleta: Man on a mission
SINGAPORE - In less than two months, US pop singer David Archuleta will be taking a two-year break from his music career - to serve as a missionary.
The American Idol 7 runner-up, who is a Mormon, will be based in an undisclosed country without a mobile phone and will only get to communicate with his loved ones via letters or the occasional e-mail.
Within Asia, Archuleta has a particularly huge fan base in the Philippines, where he has just finished filming Pinoy TV drama Nandito Ako.
But girls, don’t worry.
The cherubic-faced 21-year-old - who is in town to perform at a private showcase at local club Avalon tonight - is focusing on his service during his mission work.
He was in high spirits when he met The New Paper yesterday and even sang Billy Joel’s Just The Way You Are at the start of the interview.
Archuleta, who wanted to keep his destination a secret, said: “I know many people who met their future spouses during their mission.
“They can meet up during that time, but they cannot date as for the two years we’re supposed to be focused on our faith and serving the community.
“So if you meet someone you like, you can stay in touch and then start dating them when the mission is completed.”
During the two years, he will only be given US$400 (S$500) a month by his church. The money will be used for his housing, food and any other necessities.
Since he is also not allowed to use his own savings, Archuleta said that to save money, he would ask to stay with people in “the community” if they are willing to house him.
Missionaries, he added, go about their work in pairs, but he does not know yet who his partner is going to be.
It’s hard to imagine a young star like Archuleta making such a drastic life change, but his mind is made up.
Why now, we asked Archuleta, who told us that such mission trips are not compulsory for Mormons. His simple answer? It’s the best time.
“If I don’t do it now, there will never be another time where I can do it.
“My friends who have done it survived basically on macaroni and cheese and cup noodles. I have always respected and admired them.
“So I’m looking forward to it. When I’ve completed the mission, I’ll start thinking about going to music school.”
Since the heart-throb came in second to rocker David Cook in American Idol 7 in 2008, he has released three albums - David Archuleta (2008), Christmas From The Heart (2009) and The Other Side Of Down (2010).
The latest and 11th season of the US reality singing series is showing exclusively on Star World (StarHub Ch501) every Thursday and Friday at 6pm.
Acting-wise, Archuleta has had two cameos playing himself in US TV shows iCarly and Hannah Montana.
He has also taken the lead role in a drama that he just spent 15 days in the Philippines shooting - the mini-soap opera Nandito Ako, which airs on Feb 20.
He plays Josh Bradley, a Caucasian-Filipino who’s separated from his Filipina mother at a young age after a fire broke out at a hotel and grows up to be a successful singer.
Archuleta, who pronounced the title with a Filipino accent, speaks English in the production, but also has scenes in which he speaks and even sings in Tagalog.
He said that he had been approached in the past to do similar shows, but he finally chose to accept this one as he would be starting his missionary stint soon after.
For now, while he counts down to starting a very different life, Archuleta is enjoying watching American Idol 11.
He said: “The show is so fun now because Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez are such positive people. “That doesn’t mean I don’t like Simon Cowell.
“Being negative all the time isn’t healthy, but criticism is a must. I remember it was Simon’s criticism that helped me improve myself week after week on theshow.”