‘American Idol’ Alum Announces New Gig as Playboy Bunny

Playboy Bunnies

Heavy/Getty A group of Playboy Bunnies getting ready for event

Former “American Idol” contestant Claudia Conway has found a new way to potentially be seen and heard by millions — as a Playboy Bunny. In 2021, Conway was eliminated after the duet round of Season 19’s Hollywood Week, but received extensive airtime and media coverage for being on the show amid public spats with her famous, political parents.

Conway, now 18, is the daughter of Kellyanne Conway, a longtime advisor to former President Donald Trump, and conservative attorney George Conway, a fierce critic of Trump. The couple maintained throughout Trump’s presidency that they were still together despite their political divide, per Vanity Fair, but they announced in March 2023 that they were divorcing.

As one of the couple’s four children, Claudia Conway received both scrutiny and support as a teen growing up in the public eye, especially once she began sharing her left-leaning political views on social media, per Newsweek. Some fans were upset over the extensive airtime she received on “American Idol” at age 16, according to The Wrap. Meanwhile, Variety reporter Daniel D’Addario called her inclusion on the show “the worst sort of exploitation of a minor that reality TV has done in memory.”

But at the time, a source close to the Conway family told Page Six, “Claudia has been exploited by many people, but not ‘American Idol.”

Conway has now addressed the challenges she faced growing up in the shadow of her parents and, though she didn’t mention “Idol” specifically, she referred on social media to the ways she was exploited when she was 15 to 16 years old, saying that she hopes her new role with Playboy will help her write a new chapter of her story and reclaim her “womanhood and feminity.” Here’s what you need to know:

Claudia Conway’s ‘American Idol’ Audition Came After Big Challenges at Home

Claudia Conway

ABC/YouTubeClaudia Conway auditioning for “American Idol” in 2021

During her “American Idol” audition at age 16, with her dad accompanying her and her mom giving a pep talk via a video screen, Conway told judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie that having parents who were both “high-profile political figures” was difficult, but that they’d all agreed to disagree.

“I had to move to Washington, D.C. when I was 12 and I hated it,” she said on the show. “When your mom is working for the President of the United States, who you very much disagree with, it’s really hard.”

Prior to her fall 2020 audition, Conway had generated a great deal of attention by frequently pushed back on her parents’ political views and their family dynamics on social media. That June, at age 15, she told Insider, “I grew up in a very very conservative family, so I was only exposed to those views for a very long time. I decided to educate myself and think for myself.”

Early the next month, her parents asked the media to stop covering their daughter’s social-media presence and contacting her for interviews, according to Deadline, which also reported that she replied in a quickly-deleted tweet, “You’re just mad that i’m finally getting my voice heard. sorry your marriage failed.”

By mid-month, Claudia tweeted that her parents were forcing her to drop her social media platforms, where she’d racked up millions of followers across Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.

When Conway returned to social media later that month, she made headlines again for posting text exchanges with her mom and trolling Trump over some of his statements. That August, she posted a since-deleted TikTok video, captured by Insider, in which she said that during the first seven months of the year, she’d struggled with her mental health including becoming suicidal, had been hospitalized three times, was sexually assaulted and that her mom “got me arrested.”

Conway auditioned for “American Idol” in the fall of 2020, though it didn’t air until the following February. Before the airing, things went from difficult to “traumatic” as she accused her mom in January 2021 of posting a topless picture of her via Twitter’s now-defunct Fleets feature. Police in Alpine, New Jersey, investigated the matter, according to The Wrap, and the issue was later resolved, with her mom insisting her phone had been hacked.

Conway told Bustle in December 2022 that having her topless photo online was an “extremely traumatic” experience but that her relationship with her mom is “great now.”

Claudia Conway Hopes to Rewrite Her Narrative With Playboy Gig

In a lengthy tweet about becoming a Playboy Bunny on May 23, 2023, Conway wrote, “when i was 15-16, i was exploited by the media, preyed upon, and was forced into portraying myself as something i wasn’t. my body was taken from me.”

She continued, “now, as a young adult, i am aiming to reclaim my womanhood and femininity in a way that is truly mine. i am putting myself out there in a way that is MY OWN and no one else’s.”

Conway concluded, “i have full control of my body and my voice. i believe in writing your own narrative, like i’ve said in the past, and taking back what was once unjustly taken from you.” 

In the comments, Conway added, “autonomy and freedom are two things everyone should have. don’t let someone capitalize off of your vulnerabilities— reclaim them. sending you all light and love on this tuesday”

Conway responded after a man replied, “> owning the media who tried to turn you into a circus sideshow by turning yourself into a circus sideshow … This outcome is *exactly* what they wanted!”

She wrote, “and who owns the content, making money off of it, and has full control over what is out there now? me”

In March, Playboy launched a digital version of its long-running magazine, which ceased operations in 2020, according to Variety. Its content creators, or Bunnies, will provide some features for free but behind-the-scenes content and full photo shoots will only be available to subscribers. Conway’s inclusion as one of the Bunnies does not necessarily mean she’ll be removing her clothes for photos.

A spokesperson told Variety, “Many of our creators do not have nudity on their pages. While we allow nudity, we do not allow explicit content/pornography… We are not positioning this as an ‘adult’ platform — it’s for everyone, including mainstream creators sharing behind the scenes of their lives.”

Conway’s Playboy profile says her area of the site is “a positive safe space reclaiming femininity.”

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