Steve Harvey Enlists ‘American Idol’ Winner for Surprise Marriage Proposal

Steve Harvey

Heavy/Getty Steve Harvey holds court on ABC's "Judge Steve Harvey"

Despite having performed in countless venues since winning the second season of “American Idol” in 2003, R&B crooner Ruben Studdard just completed an especially unique gig, singing in a mock courtroom as part of a surprise marriage proposal for comedian Steve Harvey‘s unscripted comedy series, “Judge Steve Harvey.”

In the show, Harvey “serves as the judge, jury and star,” per ABC, as people present their real-life conflicts, from family disputes to unpaid bets. In the episode that aired on July 26, 2023, now available on Hulu, Harvey granted defendant André Kelly a second chance at proposing to the plaintiff, his own fiancée, who had taken him to court for waiting so long to propose.

To make the moment extra special, Harvey called upon Studdard to serenade the couple and the delighted audience. Studdard clearly loved the experience, in part because he hopes one day to follow in Harvey’s footsteps with his own TV show. Here’s what you need to know:

Ruben Studdard Serenades Couple’s Second Chance Proposal

In the episode featuring Studdard, Harvey heard from Kelly and his fiancée Joy Clarke, who goes by Joy Victoria on their joint Instagram account, as they debated whether he owed her for the money she spent on dresses and beauty services each time she thought he was going to propose during their international travels. They had an agreed-upon 2021 wedding date, so she kept expecting a ring.

By the time Kelly actually did get down on one knee, after the wedding date had passed them by, it was during a casual moment when she was sunbathing topless — not the way she envisioned getting engaged. “Judge” Harvey ruled in Kelly’s favor, stating that he didn’t owe her anything for clothes or hair and nail appointments, but he did say Kelly should pay for Clarke’s therapy bills, due the anxiety she suffered.

At that point, Harvey said that he thought the couple needed to clear the air with a brand new proposal. Kelly then led Clarke to the front of the court, where there was a bench with a bucket of champagne and multiple bouquets of roses. Before Kelly could get down on one knee, though, Harvey said he had one extra surprise.

“I asked a friend of mine to come and to do something special for ’em,” Harvey said. “You all know him because he’s one of the original stars from ‘American Idol.’ Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Ruben Studdard.”

The court doors opened and Studdard, dressed in a royal blue suit, walked through a dramatic haze of smoke as he began to serenade the couple. Clarke’s mouth was agape as he sang and after Kelly got down on one knee, she told producers how special that moment was.

“Being serenaded by Ruben Studdard, like, it blows (away) anything I even imagined,” she said.

It’s not clear when the couple filmed the episode with Harvey and Studdard, but according to Clarke’s Instagram, they got married on December 3, 2022.

Ruben Studdard Would Love to Host His Own TV Show

Before his appearance, Studdard recorded an Instagram reel that was shared on the “Judge Steve Harvey” Instagram feed.

“I’m backstage at the ‘Judge Steve Harvey’ show,” Studdard says, smiling. “Getting reading to surprise Andre and Joy. They have no idea I’m coming out. I’m about to serenade ’em, do a little (singing).”

Studdard wrapped up his video by quipping, “I look forward to seeing myself on TV, too!”

But he’s not kidding about that. Studdard has revealed in interviews that, although he’s had great success being on tour with Clay Aiken, one of his best friends and his runner-up on “Idol,” he would love to one day have his own TV show.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, Studdard has been working on a new album and he just finished his last semester teaching students about the music industry at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, a role he began in 2022. But the Alabama resident told the paper his “big dream” is now to have his own TV show.

During a joint interview with Aiken, Studdard explained, “I mean a scripted, slapstick comedy kind of show. Maybe Tyler Perry can see me and (say), ‘Let’s give Ruben his ‘Uncle Ruben’s House,’ so I can have a house full of delinquent kids.”

When Aiken mentioned they’ve also talked about the possibility of staging a “Ruben and Clay” residency in Las Vegas, Aiken quipped, “You can’t do it, Ruben, because you’ll be too busy doing your TV show.”

But Studdard countered, “If Steve Harvey can do five television shows a day, I can do (both)!”

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