July 11, 2005

‘Idol’ star Kimberley Locke thinking big

By Michael Paoletta

NEW YORK (Billboard) - "On 'American Idol,' people noticed
that I wasn't a typical size 2," Kimberley Locke says. Seconds
later, she corrects herself. "I mean, it's the typical size for
Hollywood, but not the rest of the world."

With her newly inked partnership with women's plus-size
retailer Lane Bryant, the refreshingly outspoken Locke will be
the spokesmodel for the "rest of the world." And Locke -- the
second runner-up on season two of the Fox series -- wouldn't
have it any other way.

"In today's society, where everyone is so conscious of
their size, it's important for women to know that it's OK to be
a plus size -- and it's nice to have a celebrity associated
with that," says Locke, who signed with Ford Models' 12-plus
division in February.

For her Lane Bryant deal, which launched July 10 and runs
through the end of the year (possibly longer), Locke will
appear in fall and holiday print ads and make personal
appearances for the retail chain's Seven7 Jean Collection. Lane
Bryant, with 735 stores, is the exclusive retailer for Seven7's
plus-size line.

According to Lane Bryant president Lorna Nagler, partnering
with Locke was a perfect fit. "She's talented, she's a fresh
face for women, and she's comfortable in her curvy body,"
Nagler says. "Our customers can relate to her."

Locke's manager, Jerry J. Sharell of Stiletto Entertainment
in Los Angeles, says his client received "a nice flat fee" for
her services. Locke adds that she also received tons of swag
from Lane Bryant. More important, she says the campaign will
expose her to a variety of potential fans.

In addition to store posters and online banners, Locke's
image will appear in direct-mail brochures and in ads in
upcoming issues of Glamour, In Style, Essence and O -- The
Oprah Magazine. A huge billboard arrives next month in Chicago,
Philadelphia and in New York's Times Square.

On July 17, she kicks off a seven-city tour of Lane Bryant
stores at the Southcoast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif. The trek
(meet-and-greets, with a few live performances) wraps up Aug.
27 at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn.

The timing for this partnership is ideal for Locke, as her
voice is in many places at the same time. Her latest single, "I
Could" (from her 2004 Curb Records debut album, "One Love"), is
ascending the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. She also
appears on two Disney collections ("Wishes" and "DisneyMania
3") and Curb's soundtrack to "The Perfect Man."

In addition to recording tracks for her sophomore album
(due early next year), Locke has her eyes set on Hollywood.
"With Lane Bryant, people will say, 'Oh, she's modeling now,"'
Locke says. "So, when I act in a film or host a show, people
won't be totally surprised."

Sure enough, Locke will host the Game Show Network's "Word
Slam" Sept. 8.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter