Credit: Valerie Macon/Getty Images Photo: Katharine McPhee Smiles at the Virgin America Official Sunset Strip Music Festival (SSMF) After Party on August 27, 2010

Katharine McPhee was the runner-up on Season 5 of American Idol, but she’s adamant that her Idol tenure not shadow her building musical career. Starting next month, Katharine stars in Steven Spielberg’s miniseries Smash as an amateur actress competing for a role in a Broadway musical.

"It was a great launching pad," Katharine tells Zap2it of the FOX singing competition show, but adds not everyone can have “instant success” like Idol Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson. “That's not the norm. Not everyone's career happens like that, and I'm really grateful for the way mine has gone. It's given me so much more drive, and it makes the 'ups' even sweeter, because you've had to work for them that much harder."

Instead, Katharine says her slow-and-steady rise to stardom has been a rewarding process, despite the lack of instant gratification from instant fame. “I've had very steady success. I haven't won Oscars or Grammys, but I've been very fortunate. It's like anybody else's career; sometimes, things take time, and you keep plugging away.”

Tune in February 6 to see if Katharine’s post-Idol hard work has paid off in her new role!

Source: Zap2it

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Credit: NBC Photo: Sneak Peek! Katharine McPhee, Debra Messing, and Anjelica Huston in Smash