Dish Of Salt: Axed ‘Idol' Joanna Pacitti Speaks Out For The First Time

In her first interview since she was disqualified from "American Idol," ex-contestant Joanna Pacitti is speaking out about her departure from the show.

"It's devastating, but, you know what… I've always been a strong believer that everything happens for a reason," Joanna's Laura Saltman.

VIEW THE PHOTOS: Access Hollywood's Laura Saltman At The 'American Idol' Experience

Looking pretty in pink on the arm of her boyfriend, "Dancing With the Stars" pro Mark Ballas, the brunette beauty said she was "staying strong" after the dismissal.

Judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi had given Pacitti the green light to be part of the Top 36 in an episode that aired February 11. Then, in a statement directly following the show, FOX said that Pacitti was deemed "ineligible to continue" and would be replaced by contestant Felicia Barton.

VIEW THE PHOTOS: 'American Idol' Top 36 Semi-Finalists

Fans online were upset that Pacitti seemed to have a professional leg up on the competition. She had already recorded an album (with Geffen Records) and participated in a Broadway-bound tour of "Annie." However it's rumored that it was Pacitti's personal relationship with two employees at 19 Entertainment, the company that produces "Idol," that was the cause for her dismissal. I questioned Pacitti about whether or not "American Idol" producers knew about the friendships at 19 Entertainment up front.

"I'm not really sure," she said, "I was kind of like focusing on the music. So I kind of didn't get involved in all the business stuff."

Joanna says she was confronted with the news just as she was getting ready to head back home, "because my performance wasn't for another couple of weeks. I was about to head back home and they kind of brought me into an office and told me."

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The good news is that Joanna says this experience has not soured her from the music business or "American Idol."

"I really met amazing friends on the show and I've been voting and watching. I'm just looking forward to what's next and I'm gonna record some albums. A couple of record labels are interested. So it's exciting."

She's still deciding what type of album she hopes to make.

"I don't know. That's what I'm really focusing in on. I wanna be unique and I wanna be different."

One thing that is for sure is that she has a big fan in her 'Dancing' beau, Ballas, who says the couple has been dating for a while.

"I think she's amazing and I tell her not to give up and just to keep on going. She's got an amazing voice and she's beautiful. She's the most amazing person I've ever met and I'm proud of her."

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MORE ACCESS ON THESE TOPICS: Dish Of Salt - American Idol - Randy Jackson - Kara DioGuardi - Dancing With the Stars

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