The tough-as-nails former judge of American Idol might be best known for telling off Phoenix Idol contestant “Bikini Girl” in the show’s eighth season premiere, but she’s also a well-respected producer and songwriter who has penned tracks for the likes of Celine Dion and Christina Aguilera.
Born in in New Rochelle, N.Y., DioGuardi earned a political science degree at Duke University before accepting a position in the publishing and marketing department at Billboard magazine. DioGuardi met her future cojudge, Paula Abdul, on the New York City streets years before her Idol debut, when she gave Abdul a demo she had recorded using a mutual friend from Billboard as a conversation starter.
Married to contractor Mike McCuddy since 2009, DioGuardi appeared on the American Idol judging panel for two seasons before announcing her exit after the show’s ninth season, in 2010.
DioGuardi and McCuddy announced that they welcomed a baby via surrogate, a son named Grayson, in January 2013.