What Has Former ‘American Idol’ Host Brian Dunkleman Done Since Leaving the Show?

Former American Idol host Brian Dunkleman made headlines recently when TMZ revealed he’s now driving for Uber. The website discovered Dunkelman’s new occupation while reporting on his divorce from and custody battle with his ex, Kalea Dunkleman.

Dunkleman, who co-hosted the first season of Idol with Ryan Seacrest, shot back at TMZ, saying he wasn’t ashamed of working for the rideshare service. The 47-year-old actor and comedian took the job so he could spend more time with his son, he said in a tweet.

Why did Brian Dunkleman leave American Idol?

Dunkleman hosted Idol’s debut season alongside Ryan Seacrest in 2002. But he opted to leave the show to pursue other acting opportunities. Unfortunately, his career didn’t pan out quite the way he hoped. While he found some work, he didn’t land the breakout role that would make him famous.

For a while, Dunkleman said he was bothered by missing out on Idol’s success. But eventually, he got over it. “I was very upset about it for a long, long time,” Dunkleman told CNN in 2016. “You got to make up your mind that either you are going to be that angry guy for the rest of your life, or you gotta move on. It’s taken me a long time to get there.” Mostly, he added, he regrets missing out on the money he would have made if he’d stuck with his hosting gig.

“Of course, when it comes to the financial aspect, of course there are regrets. I wouldn’t be human if I said no,” he said.

What did he do after American Idol?

FOX's "American Idol" Finale For The Farewell Season - Show

Ryan Seacrest and Brian Dunkleman speak onstage during the American Idol finale. | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Dunkleman had already landed some small TV roles – he played a pizza delivery guy on both Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place and 3rd Rock from the Sun, for example — before joining the show that launched the singing competition craze.

After stepping away from the Idol stage, Dunkleman continued to find work. He appeared on the 2002 MTV show 3-South, played a TV host in one episode of the short-lived 2003 Alicia Silverstone show Miss Match, and popped up on an episode of the crime drama NYPD Blue. He also did voice work for animated shows like The Fairly OddParents and Naruto.

Dunkleman also returned to reality TV, competing on the sixth season of Celebrity Fit Club in 2008 with teammates Tina Yothers, Dustin Diamond, and Sommore, eventually winning the grand prize. In 2016, Dunkleman was welcomed back to American Idol for the show’s final episode.

The comedian also continued to perform stand-up routines around the country for years after leaving Idol, though he says he’s stepped away from that work now. He also hosted Family Feud Live in Atlantic City and Las Vegas.

What’s next for Dunkleman?

Right now, Dunkleman seems focused on his son and doesn’t have any shame about driving for Uber. His girlfriend Andrea Whitney shared a photo on Twitter of the comedian and his child relaxing on in what appears to be the hills above Los Angeles.

Dunkleman’s story isn’t unlike that of Geoffrey Owens, the former Cosby Show actor who was job-shamed for working at Trader Joe’s. Tyler Perry eventually offered Owens a role on his show The Haves and Have Nots. Perhaps Dunkleman will get a similar break.

Owens now says that the attention he received because of his job ended up being a blessing in disguise because it got him back on people’s radar.

“The most positive thing that’s happened is that it’s almost like I’ve been reintroduced to the entertainment community,” Owens told the Today Show. “I was never quite forgotten, because even when I was working at Trader Joe’s, I was working as an actor sporadically. But now I feel like I’m back on people’s radar, which is where one has to be to be successful consistently.”

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