BRENTWOOD -- Jordyn Foley wasn't planning to channel Annie during a summer "X Factor" audition that was televised Sept. 27.
The Brentwood 12-year-old had prepared a Queen song for her Oakland tryout. She had actually sung a few lines of "Somebody to Love" when Judge L.A. Reid asked her to switch to "Tomorrow," the signature song from the play she has starred in twice.
It was the sort of curveball that would derail a seasoned adult performer. When Simon Cowell professed his repugnance for the song, Jordyn found herself even more on the spot.
"I was just like, 'Oh no,'" she said.
Then she gave herself a little pep talk. "I just told myself to rock the house and do (my) best," Jordyn said Tuesday in a phone interview from X Factor Boot Camp in Miami, where she was rehearsing for her next performance.
Jordyn rose to the challenge in Oakland, wowing the audience and the judges of the pop-singing competition with the musical theater standard.
Judges Reid, Britney Spears and Demi Lovato voted to advance Jordyn to the next round. Spears complimented her voice. Lovato said she "shined." Reid called her a "bundle of joy." Even Cowell was complimentary, saying he liked her, but she was not right for The X Factor.
Jordyn took Cowell's criticism in stride: "He was actually really nice."
Brentwood's most famous middle-schooler was in Miami on Tuesday, working on two songs for the next round of competition. Her next challenge would come Wednesday in the Boot Camp elimination rounds. She couldn't say what she would be singing, but "I'm working on them 24-7."
In the end, Jordyn was one of several singers cut during the Oct. 3 Boot Camp show, but the experience is one she'll long remember.
"I'm new to this," Jordyn said. "It's exhausting really. It's a lot of waiting. It's long days and a lot of work, but it's a lot of fun."
Local children's' theater directors Steve Kinsella and Sharon Redman both said Jordyn shined early in her local career.
Redman recalls asking Jordyn for an impromptu song five years ago when they first met at an audition: "She broke into "Let Me Entertain You," and she did entertain me."
Jordyn was "born for the stage," says Redman, who directed her in several plays, including in Jordyn's recent turn as Beauty in "Beauty and the Beast" with El Campanil Children's Theatre. Jordyn has also attended a few of Redman's summer theater classes.
"She's a genuine sweetheart," Redman said.
Jordyn welcomes and mentors new young actors and is a happy presence with the theater troupe.
Jordyn was a bit embarrassed by the praise, but recovered to admit, "I do spend about 110 percent of my time talking."
Kinsella said about 5 percent of his students at Brentwood Teen Theater get his lesson on using their imagination and sense to lose themselves in the story behind a song. Jordyn understood that and many other concepts quickly.
"She's one of the 5 percent," he said. "She's a very smart young actor" with "focus beyond her years."
Kinsella worked with Jordyn on stage presence before her audition. He directed her in "Annie" for Broadway Under the Stars and has taught her in summer classes. He said he hoped to see her sing something softer and more personal for her Boot Camp number.
"She's darn genuine," he said. "She has a charisma and a larger-than-life presence."
Jordyn faced the judges in Miami without the huge entourage that cameras captured mobbing the judges with glee after her performance. (A producer encouraged the interaction.) A group of about 40 friends and family members were with her in Oakland. In Miami, it's just Jordyn and her mother, Deena, whom Jordyn calls her hero -- along with Kristin Chenoweth, Taylor Swift and Queen's Freddie Mercury.
The hometown cheering section might be smaller, but Jordyn said she has heard of, and appreciates, the support of her friends and the community back home.
"They're with me in spirit," Jordyn said.
What does Jordyn miss most about her hometown? "My bed," she quips. Her brother, pink room, dog and friends come in a close second.
Her goal for the next X Factor audition was as big as her personality: "I really want to connect with my audience and share my gift with the world," she said. "I just want to do it all really."