Franchelle "Frenchie" Davis
(born May 7, 1979 in Washington DC) is a former American
Idol contestant (season 2) who was disqualified in 2003 for
appearing in topless photos on the Internet. Davis performed
in Rent on Broadway in 2003 after appearing on American
Idol. She sang the solo in the opening song of Act Two,
Seasons of Love, and in ensemble roles such as Mrs.
Jefferson (Joanne's mom), a woman with bags, a coat vendor,
Mrs. Marquez (Mimi's mom) and others. She then left to star
in a West Coast tour of the musical Dreamgirls. On June 1,
2005, Davis returned to her previous role in the Broadway
production of Rent. Davis had previously announced that she
would leave Rent in May 2007, she announced her final
performance following a mid-April 2007 show.
She currently lives in New York. She has announced that she
intends to return to Howard University in the fall, to
finish her undergraduate degree.
In 2008, Frenchie will be starring, along with Ruben
Studdard, will be starring in the 30th anniversary national
tour of musical review Ain't Misbehavin', which appeared on
broadway in 1978 and ran for some 1600 performances. Cities
are presently being booked, and the show should run through
at least May, 2009.
Mahalia, a Gospel Musical
From August 3 to 19, 2007, Davis starred in the Hartford
Stage production of Mahalia, A Gospel Musical in the role of
Mahalia Jackson, with Miche Braden and JMichael, written by
Tom Stolz and directed by Jeremy B. Cohen. She has
unofficially announced (during an interview) that she may be
performing in a production of Dreamgirls in Houston, Texas,
In 2004, Davis held the role of Effie in a west coast
touring production of Dreamgirls, which appeared in
Sacramento, San Jose and Seattle, and later went to
Davis performing seasons of love with the cast of RentDuring
the weeks leading up to the 4-29 RENT 10 year reunion Davis
appeared in an iTunes Podcast (RENT:The PodCast). She also
joined the original cast for a special encore performance.
Frenchie Davis appeared in the broadway musical Rent,
from 2003 through 2007. Her regular roles were the
power-house soloist in Seasons of Love, bag lady, and
others. She also played the part of Joanne, on occasion.
American Idol topless photo controversy
After revealing pictures of season six American Idol
contender Antonella Barba surfaced on the internet, many
drew parallels to a similar situation involving season two
contender Frenchie Davis. In an interview conducted for The
New York Post on Monday, March 5th, 2007, Davis said, "I
couldn't help but notice the difference between the manner
in which she was dealt with and how I was dealt with.... I
think it's fantastic if 'Idol' has evolved, and I think it's
fantastic she won't have to go through what I went through
four years ago … but if the rules have changed, I believe
there should be something to make up for the fact that I was
humiliated needlessly." According to Davis, she was up-front
about her pictures: “When I first discovered that I had made
it to Hollywood and found out I would be competing to get
into the top 30 and then later in the top 12, they had given
us all this paperwork to fill out, background checks and
that whole thing. So when we were doing that I had a
discussion with some members of the production staff and I
exposed to them a piece of my past; that when I was 19 years
old, I took some pictures and that’s not the person I am
[anymore]. I wanted to be up-front about it. We talked about
it and then nothing happened.” The “Idol” staff took no
action then, but two months later, they decided that
Frenchie’s participation would be inappropriate. “They had
decided that because ‘American Idol’ was a family show, that
they could not have me on the show because of the pictures I
had taken – though they had never seen the pictures,” she
told EuroWeb. She also added that no one was able to find
the pictures in question as the website that featured them
had been taken down.
Project Islamic H.O.P.E. activist Najee Ali has accused the
show of racism: “It’s obvious that it’s a racial bias ...
when you have a situation where a black contestant is
punished and a similar situation happens to a white
contestant and there is no punishment and they’re allowed to
continue on the show.” According to EuroWeb, Ali staged a
protest in front of The Kodak Theater in Los Angeles, CA on
Tuesday, March 6th, 2007. Protesters are seeking another
chance for Davis at the competition. Talk show co-host Rosie
O’Donnell has commented on the "Idol" scandal; on The View,
Tuesday, March 6th, 2007, co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck used
the justification that Davis was paid for her pictures
whereas Barba was not. Rosie’s response: "I think it's
racist. I do…I think it's because she's black."
Davis possesses a vocal range of Lyric Mezzo-Soprano.
In 2012, Davis came out as bisexual. She continues to
be a strong and outspoken advocate for the Bisexual
community, LGBTQ Youth and for LGBTQ People of Colour.
In 2013 she was the featured performer at the National
LGBTQ Task Force's 25th National Conference on LGBT Equality:
Creating Change in Atlanta GA where she explained that she
had come out for all of the young LGBT people. "It's so wonderful
to see all the young people here. You all are the reason that
I chose to be out. Because it is important that you see people
in the public eye who are not ashamed of who they are.
It is ok to be true to you."
In 2014 Davis created a stir when she spoke out bluntly
in response to the verdict in the Shooting of Jordan Davis
by Michael Dunn where the jury deadlocked on the charge of
first-degree murder, saying "As an LGBT woman of color,
I am having an extremely difficult time grasping WHY
Matthew Shephard’s life is so much more valuable than
Trayvon’s or Jordan’s????!?!?! Help me understand,
y’all! Help me understand."