Bring up the topic of televised music competitions, and K-pop fans are likely to name-drop a few: Produce 101, Girls Planet 999, Queendom, Mama The Idol – the list goes on. There’s no shortage of these programmes in the world of Korean pop culture. But it isn’t every day that you see a K-pop idol compete on an American talent show. AleXa, a Korean-American K-pop idol, did just that. Taking part in the Eurovision-inspired American Song Contest, she represented her home state Oklahoma with the song, Wonderland . On May 9, AleXa emerged victorious, winning the title of best original song thanks to a landslide public vote. As winner of the programme, she will be performing Wonderland at the Billboard Music Awards and starring in a T-Mobile commercial. Wonderland will also be played on iHeartRadio stations across the US. But who exactly is AleXa, and how has her journey as a K-pop idol prepared her for her American Song Contest victory? Discover everything you need to know about the musician. What happens to failed K-pop stars? 4 former idols who changed careers American Song Contest is not her first music competition show While AleXa’s participation in American Song Contest was a novelty for K-pop fans, it was not her first rodeo when it comes to music contests. She first dipped her toes in the K-pop world through Rising Legends, an online audition hosted by Korean pop culture news website Soompi. Despite landing the top spot in the competition’s dance category in both 2016 and 2017, she did not sign a contract with either of the Rising Legends’ affiliated labels, JYP Entertainment and Cube Entertainment. Instead, AleXa joined ZB Label, a subsidiary of the video production company, Zanybros. Most fans recognise AleXa from Produce 48, the third season of the viral Mnet survival show, Produce 101 . Under the name Alex Christine, she was selected among thousands of hopefuls to join a pool of 96 contestants. She was eliminated in the first round of the programme but made her debut as a soloist with the stage name AleXa the succeeding year. She hosted a Dive Studios podcast With her fluent English and charming personality, AleXa made an ideal addition to the team at Dive Studios, a podcasting company co-owned by fellow K-pop artist, Eric Nam. She dipped her toes into podcasting in 2020, serving as a guest host on the Dive programme, How Did I Get Here? Later that year, they made it official, with Dive Studios announcing that AleXa would permanently co-host the programme with Jae (then a member of Day6). The programme went on to win the title of best podcast of 2020 from Apple Podcasts. 5 times Blackpink’s Lisa proved she’s Thailand’s unofficial princess She performs her own stunts The repertoire of skills that South Korean idols are expected to have seems endless. Acting, hosting and a conversational level of speech in multiple languages have become common fixtures on the K-pop star’s proverbial resume, in addition to high-calibre vocals and dance skills, of course. The release of her single, Revolution , marked another expansion of AleXa’s ever-growing skill set. The track’s music video featured action sequences and scenes that required the musician to run through catapulted debris. Despite the difficulty and risk involved, AleXa executed each of these scenes herself, as seen in the behind-the-scenes reel of the music video shoot. Her performance of Wonderland in the American Song Contest semi-finals, which started with an aerial dance segment, was another display of her athletic streak and rigorous training. Her music releases are connected by an A.I. multiverse Aespa and the rest of the SM culture universe aren’t the only ones flirting with the concept of alternate realities . Since her debut, AleXa’s singles have been grounded by a narrative: that she is an avatar in the multiverse. Each track unveils a new side of her character, with her recent hit Tattoo revealing a softer, more tender quality. Tying into her multiverse concept, AleXa also made history by being the first K-pop idol to launch a digital fan party in the metaverse. 5 things to know about Park Seo-joon, Marvel’s next Korean star Her goal is to succeed as a singer in Korea and find her mother’s family While AleXa credits Shinee as the cultural reset that drove her down the K-pop path, a more personal motivation now fuels her dreams. AleXa was born in the US to a Russian-American father and a South Korean mother. In an introductory video released ahead of her debut, the artist revealed that she moved to South Korea to help her mother, who was adopted at the age of five, find her relatives. However, she admits that despite some success, the search for her mother’s family has not been easy. She revealed to journalist Jae-Ha Kim, “Adoption laws in Korea are quite strict. If the birth parents are not in search of their child, the child has no permission to have any information on the birth parents.” Unfortunately, no effort was made on the parents’ end to search for AleXa’s mother. Despite this, AleXa continues to use her platform to spark meaningful change. In an interview with Korea JoongAng Daily , she recounted witnessing and experiencing racism first-hand. This pushed her to speak up at the height of the #StopAsianHate movement. She shared, “I would really like to try to speak on these matters and let it be known that we won’t be silenced.” Want more stories like this? Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .