From American Idol to Actor and Advocate: Meet Kevin Covais

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Kevin Covais was one of the youngest contestants on American Idol; he was just 16 when he made his debut during season 5. He’ll share some behind the scenes stories including managing low blood sugar during a live performance. Diagnosed with T1D at age 11, Kevin has been working steadily as an actor. We’ll talk about working in Hollywood with diabetes – and what that's been like during COVID, more about American Idol, and how Kevin found himself mentoring other kids with type 1. This podcast is not intended as medical advice. If you have those kinds of questions, please contact your health care provider.

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Stacey Simms 0:00 Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dario Health. Manage your blood glucose levels increase your possibilities by Gvoke Hypopen the first premixed auto injector for very low blood sugar, and by Dexcom take control of your diabetes and live life to the fullest with Dexcom.

Announcer 0:20 This is Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.

Stacey Simms 0:26 This week, actor Kevin Covais was one of the youngest contestants on American Idol back in season five, he'll share some behind the scenes stories, including managing low blood sugar during a live performance.

Kevin Covais 0:38 And I'm singing and I just like, I can't wait for this thing to be over. I can't wait to stop singing and get the critiques from the judges that I'm not even gonna really listen to you because I got to get off the stage and I got to get some juice or I gotta get some tablets. I gotta take care of this.

Stacey Simms 0:49 He was fine. And since Idol , Kevin has been working steadily as an actor. We'll talk about working in Hollywood with diabetes and during COVID more about American Idol, and how Kevin found himself mentoring other kids with type one. He has advice for parents too. This podcast is not intended as medical advice. If you have those kinds of questions, please contact your health care provider. Welcome to another week of the show, always is so glad to have you here. Hi, I'm your host Stacey Simms. We aim to educate and inspire about diabetes with a focus on people who use insulin. And my guest this week is Kevin Covais, diagnosed with type one just as he turned 11. Kevin is best known for American Idol as you heard in the tease there and the Disney Channel show Good Luck Charlie, where he played the character Victor. He is a steadily working actor with roles in Transformers and this is us, the rookie, NCIS Los Angeles and more. I put some pictures of Kevin in the Diabetes Connections Facebook groups, you can kind of see him on set. And he is appearing in the new Netflix series on the verge, which is out this month. I thought it would be fun to just play a little clip of Season Five of American Idol where Kevin appeared and this was back in 2006. As I said he was one of the very youngest contestants. So here's a little bit of him from back then. (Kevin sings) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dc5ec3te75I

Stacey Simms 2:44 used to watch idol all the time. And as I confessed to Kevin, it has been a while. But what a big show, right? And you'll hear Kevin during the interview mentioned Elliott Yamin who was also on season five and also lives with type one. I got to meet Elliot a couple of years ago at a touched by type one conference he is still performing writing music. He's now a dad, I'll put a link to Elliot stuff in the show notes as well. That of course will have tons of information about Kevin, but I just thought that was really interesting because to me, I don't know it seems like yesterday but of course 2006 was the year that my son was diagnosed, Benny was diagnosed right before he turned two. He is now almost 17 which is I mean, we've lived with diabetes. Now I've been part of this community for 15 years in just a couple of weeks. So 2006 kind of was a long time ago and kind of seems like yesterday to me. Alright, Kevin's interview coming up in just a moment. But first Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Gvoke Hypopen and our endo always told us that if you use insulin you need to have emergency glucagon on hand as well. Low blood sugars are one thing we're usually able to treat those with fast acting glucose tabs or juice but a very low blood sugar can be very frightening which is why I'm so glad there's a different option for emergency glucagon it is Gvoke Hypopen. Gvoke Hypopen is pre mixed and ready to go with no visible needle. You pull off the red cap push the yellow end onto bare skin and hold it for five seconds. That's it. Find out more go to Diabetes connections.com and click on the Gvoke logo. Gvoke shouldn't be used in patients with pheochromocytoma or insulinoma visit Gvoke glucagon.com slash risk. Kevin, welcome to the show. I'm really glad to talk to you. Thanks for making some time for me.

Kevin Covais 4:26 Stacey. Thank you for having me. I'm so excited to find we've been talking about this for a while I'm so I'm so happy to finally join the program. It's great.

Stacey Simms 4:33 Awesome. Yeah, it's great that we finally connected Gosh, so much to talk about. We connected everyone We see each other every year add friends for life. Yeah. And I was so happy we were able to do that this year. We'll kind of see what happens going ahead. But before we get into all of that, do you mind if we just kind of take a step back and look back? I mean you haven't been on the show before and I'd love to kind of revisit the early days of Kevin

Kevin Covais 4:59 Spacey. I would be disappointed if we didn't do that. So let's, let's dive in. Let's do it. Yes, please.

Stacey Simms 5:04 As I was asking that I was thinking about American Idol but I should probably go back further. You were diagnosed when you were you were a kid. You were not even 11 years old yet, right? Yeah, it

Kevin Covais 5:13 was just prior to my 11th birthday symptoms leading up. Yeah, my birthday is at the end of May. And I just remember that entire month of May so vividly. You know, obviously, you think back to childhood and, you know, memories here memories there. But that month just stands out in my mind so vividly. Symptoms throughout the month, parents wandering out what's going on with Kev? what's what's happening, you know, maybe an infection this that bring me into the doctor, several days prior to my 11th birthday to get the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. Yeah.

Stacey Simms 5:41 Did you spend your birthday in the hospital?

Kevin Covais 5:43 I think it was. So it was it was several days after my birthday. So yeah, it was the entire month leading up to the birthday. And then it was, yeah, right. At the start of June, I was putting so this was several days after my 11th birthday that I was in the hospital. And just you know, you hear the doctor tell you and your kid and I, you know, I immediately I broke down and cried. I didn't know, I didn't know what I was dealing with. I you know, you hear the word diabetes and you know, your mind escapes, you starts running around all these different things. And then he you know, the doctor, you know, kindly explained to me, now this is something you're going to be able to manage your life. It's obviously going to be a great deal of work. But this is something you live with and something you manage. And then from there, I learned everything over the course of the next week and being in the hospital and getting treated. Yeah, it was. It was a month like no other though. Yeah, that's for sure. Yeah.

Stacey Simms 6:27 So your kid, you're diagnosed at a time when frankly, it's the as I recall that time that early 2000s. It's the time right before everything really started changing. Absolutely. As I look at I mean, Ben, he was diagnosed in 2006. They were like, we've got this amazing thing called Lantus. That's just been approved for kids. Yeah, you know, and now everything seems so different with the technology. What was the first kind of technology or routine that you were on? Gosh, you

Kevin Covais 6:54 got me thinking back to the pre Lantus days of time? Yeah, it's it's wild. For me. Taking the injections, taking the daily injections, I will go ahead and say I'm not currently on the pump, that I am one of these those rare rare people that uh, that takes daily injections. I have a CGM. But that's, that's my preferred way of doing it have been doing it that way for years. But yeah, starting out being diagnosed taking human and human log each and every day. Yeah. And those pre Lantus days. And, you know, they think back to those syringes before you have the pens and the newer technology and the things that make it so easy now, so, so accessible, and thinking back to a time before, you know, we had some of those advancements, it was definitely interesting at the start for those first couple of years.

Stacey Simms 7:35 Well, is that the kind of and I say technology to encompass whatever you're using shots? Oh, of course. Yeah. So when you're talking humulin, you have a log, did you have to kind of eat on a set schedule? Or were you okay to kind of inject when you want it to eat,

Kevin Covais 7:51 you know, that really came with adulthood, that sort of injecting when I wanted to eat and the accessibility I remember, as a kid, it was, it was the preference of my doctors to have that set routine. I remember going in and you have a regimented schedule of three meals, several snacks, a snack at an after school snack at roughly 3pm. And, and one prior to bed 9pm at night. And yeah, that was for a while. It's obviously insulin matching. Exactly what you're what you're ingesting exactly what you're eating and set times. It was all very regimented. For me those first couple years of my life. Yeah. Something. I bet. I bet it's a trip to think back on it really is. Yeah,

Stacey Simms 8:30 it must be I mean, I just think, you know, it's there's no easy age to be diagnosed with diabetes. But 11 you're just starting out that like, tiptoeing into independence. Yes. Middle School. Do you remember? Did your parents kind of give you a long rope? Were they very protective? I don't want to be too personal.

Kevin Covais 8:48 Please, please. They were unbelievable. I'm so blessed to have the mother and the father that I do. And the support system that I do, I think they handled it differently. I think, with my mother, I think not that there was more trust, I think, was maybe a little longer rope and trusting me to do the things I think my father was, you know, very concerned at times, but you know, rightfully concerned about, you know, what I was taking and this and that. So there were I think there were several different schools of parenting going on. But together, they complemented each other so well. And it was I just knew that they were always there for me during those frustrating moments, those highs, those lows, quite literally, obviously, where it's just they were there All the while, but just like an amazing support system site. I think they went about it slightly differently. But we're, you know, managed to still be on the same page because, you know, nobody handles You know, one set situation quite the same. So, I was just incredibly fortunate. We just got informed, it's like we figured out what it was and there was a moment of kind of bowing our heads and being frustrated being sad. And then we were like, Alright, what do we do about this and got in the hospital and took care of and met up with all the doctors and got assigned the endocrinologist and and took it from there. Yeah,

Stacey Simms 9:53 your parents must have given you a long rope because five years later, you auditioned for American Idol right when you're 16

Kevin Covais 9:59 I was a baby I mean, I'm still a baby. I'm just an older baby. I'm still probably just as immature. But now I'm in my 30s so I don't really get away with as much. I I was 16 years old SJC when I did the show, I can't believe I did it at all. And I can't believe I did it when I was when I didn't know any more. I was just a child. Yeah. It's so

Stacey Simms 10:17 funny. So okay, so you're my son's age.

Kevin Covais 10:23 And your son's a child. I'm sure he's way more mature than I was.

Stacey Simms 10:28 But, you know, you did let him just go. You know, he took an international trip for a month but he was with you. But he was with a bunch of people who, you know, we're we felt very safe with of course, what was the deal with American Idol because you didn't just go to one city, right? I mean, audition different cities take us kind of through what happened.

Kevin Covais 10:45 It was just the journey of a lifetime at 16. I audition in New York. I'm from from Levittown, New York, Long Island, New York, and I audition up in Boston, I turned 16. And as I tell the story, my mom and I would watch idol from the Kelly Clarkson days. I ultimately was on season five. But you know, Kelly Clarkson wins the show, season one, my mom and I, it's must see TV. We tune in every week to watch the show. And my father was never a big fan. And I was a singer, around the same time that I was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 11. That's kind of when I joined the chorus and developed a love for singing and acting in the school plays and whatnot. And he'd walked through the room and we'd be watching idol. And I would tell him, I said, you know, one day I'm going to do this show. And he's like, yeah, okay, we'll see. And I turned 16. And again, just to echo how incredibly supportive my parents have always been, they've always been by my side, I turned 16. I go up to Boston to audition for the show. When there were no tri state area auditions in the Greater New York area. They take me up to Boston, they take me up to Gillette Stadium where the New England Patriots play, they're having massive auditions. 15 tents set up on a field, a judge at each tent and forward a time that bringing us down and they say Sing, sing, sing, sing, you sing a little bit of a song, they cut you off whenever they feel like you either make it or they send you to the exits, we see a herd of people go into the exits. And I was one of the lucky few that day who they said you know what, we're gonna give you another audition, we'll come back and see the executive producers, so on and so forth all the way up to the main judges in the city of Boston, I see the original three of Simon cow, Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson. And eventually I make my way out to Hollywood. I get past that round, and made it to Hollywood. It was my first time ever on the west coast. I get to go and I'm one of maybe 180 people auditioning out in Hollywood to try to get on those live shows where ultimately I landed and Gosh, got to somehow got to the top 12 my seats I don't even know I don't even it was honestly Stacy, it was all blur. I don't even know how I did it. I don't know. I mean, I remember it. But it was just such a roller coaster and such an emotional ride in such an exciting ride my lights? Yeah.

Stacey Simms 12:39 When I'm researching to talk to you, you know, going through the American Idol season five and kind of looking at what was written around that time. There's no mention of you having diabetes?

Kevin Covais 12:50 No, no, you hiding it.

Stacey Simms 12:57 Right back to Kevin finishing that thought. But first Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dario health. And one of the things that makes diabetes management difficult for us that really annoys me and Benny isn't actually the big picture stuff. It's all the little tasks adding up. Are you sick of running out of strips, do you need some direction or encouragement going forward with your diabetes management, with visibility into your trends help you on your wellness journey? The Dario diabetes success plan offers all of that and more. No more waiting in line at the pharmacy no more searching online for answers. No more wondering about how you're doing with your blood sugar levels, find out more go to my dario.com forward slash diabetes dash connections. Now back to Kevin talking about why he didn't share his type one with the American Idol audience.

Kevin Covais 13:46 Absolutely not hiding it. This is how little I just knew about I just wasn't aware of anything. I was so green to the experience that like now as an actor of 10 plus years as a mainly transition to acting at this point, which I'm sure we'll get to a bit in a little bit. I didn't think about it from a perspective of Oh, wow, what a stage to raise awareness for this thing. I was on the show. I made it to the top 12. And one of my best friends from the show is Elliot Yamin, fellow type one, and you know, great guy, great personality and just just a heck of a voice. Oh my god, the guy can sing the doors off the place. He's unbelievable. And we auditioned in Boston together. I was so nervous until my final few weeks performing live on the show. I just think I went in and I would do the interviews and I would do this and I would do that. And it wouldn't even occur to me like man, you should really bring this up. I wasn't hiding it. I wasn't ashamed. I think for me, it was just such a normal part of my life that I'd been accustomed to for five years. And I was like, Oh, yeah, well, I'm you know, I'm no different than anyone else. I'm just dealing with my type 1 diabetes, you know, all the while. And it's it's a regret not from a sense because again, I wasn't hiding it. It's a regret because I realized how big that platform was and Oh man, I should have said something. And it was and it wasn't until after the fact that I was like oh wow, there's like a lot of opportunity here and when I you know start to do very As events for the jdrf are really dive into work with the Diabetes Research Institute several years thereafter. It wasn't until that point, when I kind of got older. I was like, Man, this is an incredible opportunity to raise awareness. And, you know, use your platform. And I wish I could go back and tell 16 year old Kevin that I really wish I could.

Stacey Simms 15:16 Well, I wasn't even thinking of it in terms of advocacy, which is a terrific point that you make, but I was thinking about it as your 16. And, you know, to say, Well, I need extra help, or I need you to know that. Although you weren't beeping at the time, you probably didn't have a CGM. No, not yet. Right. You might not just you know, and I think and I can totally understand that, because that's how my son is, you know, he'll tell people to be safe, you know, spending the night and we're not there. And he'll say, Here's to this and that, but he's not gonna say, hey, by the way, just as dropping into the conversation, yeah. I don't think a lot of 16 year olds who are let's just say it like that, I think. And you've already kind of mentioned it, it just seems like it was such a normal part of who you were. I think that's very commendable. I think that's great.

Kevin Covais 16:01 Thanks. Yeah, I'd like to think so as well. I'll tell you, every staff member on idol, the producer, the up to the producers, up to the big time people behind the show, they knew I had type one. I always made it a point to you know, school teachers, obviously, you're telling them okay, hey, look, if I need to go to the nurse, this is why I'm not. I'm not trying to get out of taking this exam. It's because I have a legitimate low right now. So the people in my life I was telling, it never occurred to me when the cameras started rolling to bring it up, because it just didn't occur to me. I was like, Oh, yeah, no, I'm telling the people that are directly affected in my life about this. It didn't, it didn't even dawn on me to inform the audience about

Stacey Simms 16:36 it. Did you have any issues on Idol with diabetes? And I did,

Kevin Covais 16:40 yeah. There's a story that stands out. I don't mean to laugh. It's just some hilarious stories. When we were laughing. We This is how we do it. This is how we deal sometimes, you know, you know, you know better than anyone as to why it's, it wasn't an issue, up until the live shows. Really, I think, for me, it was always Okay, we're testing constantly, we're making sure we're correcting prior to getting up for big performances, or whatever I got to perform during Hollywood week, I'm making sure I'm good to go in preparation for those performances. It wasn't until the third live show there were three weeks of semi finals on the show. And I get up there on the third week, and I'm waiting in the wings to be the next one up and I I know where my blood sugar is, you know, without the CGM. I'm one of the lucky ones who can, you know, 21 years of this thing I can tell where I am. If I'm running high in the two hundreds, I feel lousy, and I know it. I know where I'm at. If I'm low, and I have the shakes, and you know, you feel a little disoriented. I know that too. And I could feel myself dropping and dropping quickly. But I'm up on stage and it's live television. So I go up and I perform I perform. Don McLean's stories of Vincent starry, Starry Night old ballad that one of my favorites, Josh Groban read it, and in more recent years, and I'm singing, and I just like, I can't wait for this thing to be over. I can't wait to stop singing and get the critiques from the judges that I'm not even gonna really listen to because I got to get off the stage and I got to get some juice or I gotta get some tablets. I gotta take care of this. It was the most surreal thing to be experiencing that in that moment. I got through it. And the performance wasn't terrible. I think it was, I think was one of my better ones. So I was on for five weeks. And I I put it up in the maybe on the top two or three of them. And yeah, but that did happen on live television, which was just the most surreal thing. Yeah.

Stacey Simms 18:18 Wow. When you got off the stage Did you like eat everything? Oh, yeah.

Kevin Covais 18:22 I went to town state. Oh, yeah. Are you kidding me? I was like, Yeah, let's go. I was just, it was bizarre. It was just a bizarre, but it was just a wild, wild thing to experience. And that's kind of telling for anyone who deals with this is that you can prepare to the best of your abilities. And that you know, that unexpected lower high could still come about, you just have to do your best but there's no there was no shame. I didn't feel any shame after that. I know. Look, we're all human. And this is this is a normal part of the day in and day out experience. It's just so unique that to be in the position that I was in to have experienced that at that moment was very unique. Yeah, yeah, that's

Stacey Simms 18:57 interesting, too. That I forgot. Elliot. Yeah, I mean, was the same season.

Kevin Covais 19:00 Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah. Oh, man. He was I was rooting for him after I eventually got bounced and got kicked out. You know, after I got eliminated from the show. I was I couldn't get kicked off now. I was a good kid. After I got eliminated from the show. I was I was rooting for Elliot anyway not I mean, obviously the bond we shared as as he was a fellow type one and we you know, related and became fast friends over that, but I just thought he had the best voice that of anyone that sees and I thought his voice was you know, another league but it was a it was a heck of a year and a heck of a ride for it really was

Stacey Simms 19:30 Do you still forgive me? I don't know if it's even on the air. Do you still watch

Kevin Covais 19:33 idol please? It is not really Oh, no, it's been going on a while sometimes it's like sometimes you gotta know when to let go. I like emotionally said goodbye to the show. I think it was about five or six years ago now when when Fox had its last airing of the show. So I kind of had my emotional goodbye with the show. Then I had a bunch of friends over to my place and we watched it and we were you know we're they were laughing about stuff. Remember in my time on the show years ago, we had a we had a grand time and then you Goes via Idol s off the air and then ABC is picking it up. Because you know, why not? Why not pick it up? And they've had some successes with the ABC run and some some very talented people on the show but I think there's just there's so many options now so many things to watch. You got the voice you got to America's Got Talent, things of that nature. It's tough. It's tough to keep up with all of them now stuck to keep up. Yeah.

Stacey Simms 20:20 So right. So after idol, you change from being a singer to acting? What What happened? Like, what were some of your first jobs. I know you were at the Disney Channel, and you've been guest starring spots. So if you could tell me, like when you started?

Kevin Covais 20:32 Yeah, I saw I finish idol. And I'm really honest about these things. I thought, going into the Idol experience as everyone does. I want to be a recording artist, I want to make records and I want to do this. And my love for music. And my love for singing is never escaped. It's really I'm just being honest, it's more of a hobby. At this point. It's more of something for me. And if I record something, it's more for me or potentially to work, collaborate with friends or right with fellow musician, friends. But I got into the acting I remember I got done with idol and I got management back, I found representation back home in New York, there was a real interest, I think people really found me to be a bit of a character on the show. And in a good way, not a bad way, of course. And that led to auditions. And I started going out in my first movie was a real silly kind of raunchy comedy, I wouldn't recommend anyone listening to this podcast, watch it, it was a movie called college. It was with a Nickelodeon star by the name of Drake Bell and various other funny people. And, you know, really funny people in the cast. And we had a blast making it. And this was my first taste of a film. And I came to know that Deb Hagen, our director on that project, she was at home with her family reading the script of this movie, she'd just been assigned as the director. And she's watching idol with her family and I'm on the show. And she's reading the script. And there's this you know, kind of nerdy character named Morris super this kid with, you know, part of gold sweet kid, but you know, just kind of reserved and whatnot. She's reading the character, and she's looking at me on the TV, and she's like, Man, this kid would be, I want this kid to play this role. And I never knew this and takes a while to make a movie. And about a year later, I within that year, I get done with Idol I go back home, I'm doing my senior year of high school now, because I did Idol as a junior in high school. I'm back in Levittown, New York, I'm back at Island trees, high school over there. And, and I'm doing self tape auditions, I get a manager at home who starts sending me out for acting, saying there'd be quite a bit of interest if I were to pursue this. And I put myself down for this movie college and put a self tape down and I got the roll, I got the roll, which offers self tape, which is like, You're so lucky to get that it's a rarity. And I was very fortunate. And I had a fun time making that one. And then that led to a bunch of other opportunities got to work with Lindsay Lohan on a on a television movie called labor pains, which was a blast, a really stacked comedic cast. And that one, you know, that's silly movie, but a lot of fun. And then since then, the big one was good luck, Charlie, for me got to be on the Disney Channel and work on eight episodes of good luck, Charlie, in the early 2010s. And, and then from there, just a slew of fun guest stars. And I've just I love it. I love every minute of it. I don't know how it all came about. I think for me, I always love to act adjust as much as I love to sing. But I never I wasn't savvy enough at the time of doing idol at 16. Again, I was so green, I didn't even think like oh, you can use this idol platform to maybe swing a few meetings or this or that and try to try to get your way into acting. I don't even think like that. If again, if it was today, if I was doing that in my 20s or if I was doing that today in my early 30s. Like obviously I would have had that mindset but you know, I didn't know I didn't know anything like that. So but just so fortunate that it came about and I love it. I love being on set. I love playing these characters escaping into these fun people that are nothing like me. It's fun.

Stacey Simms 23:35 Yeah. And you've been you know, you continually work I mean, yeah, it's as you said their guest starring roles and you know, but they seem so fun. You were This is us. 68 whiskey, you know, the Yeah, I think the last thing I saw was NCIS LA or Los Angeles. I saw you did like a theme during COVID. How is production been? Have you been able to do anything? That's

Kevin Covais 23:57 You know what? That's a great question. My last two roles, which as you previously mentioned it NCIS Los Angeles I got to do a again small role but part but a scene with with great actors and Chris O'Donnell and LL Cool J the leads of the show. And that was just so trippy because you know, you grew up watching lol and then you get to do a scene with them. I like that. It's like I've done this for over 10 years and you still get in those situations and you play it cool, but it's like I'm working with frickin Oh, cool. J This is not. But that was interesting. I'll tell you as it pertains to COVID they were coming off a hiatus to show and this was I believe this was their first episode of production back since COVID. I don't think I'm making that up. We go and we film at the Paramount lot you know the famous Paramount live in Los Angeles and and they took so many precautions. It's unbelievable. When you have a small you know, co star role such as myself, they give you a tiny little trailer whatnot. And everything's placed outside the trailer, your wardrobe, your sides like there. Nobody's coming into your trailer. It was a whole new world. Obviously you're wearing a mask the entirety of the time. You're filming just a little funny story, my character is wearing like some sort of alligator costume. He's like a sign spinner on the corner of the street or whatever, who they take in for interrogation at the NCIS headquarters in LA. And so they take me in and I'm still wearing this thing. And for the purpose of the scene, I have the first line and I'm wearing a mask during rehearsal we get in and obviously, you're not shaking hands with anyone, you're just meeting you're there for a day. It's a quick day, and I'm wearing a mask in this like weird out, you know, this weird, like lizard costume or whatnot. And then when they they start rolling, they're like, Okay, everybody take your masks off. Kevin, you can take the mask off. I'm like, okay, so I, I don't know what's going on. I'm just following their lead. I take the mask off. And I'm like, Where do I put this thing? I don't pocket somewhere in a lizard costume. I just like kind of stick it under my button, keep going with the scene. And then they call action and I run a scene with a local j was nuts. It was crazy. I was like, but it's a whole new world, you know. So they take the precautions, but then they call to action and you're back in a fictitious world that apparently doesn't have COVID-19 in it. And it was just bizarre. I was fortunate I had a small role A few weeks later on a show that is yet to be released a show with Elizabeth Shue called on the verge which I believe is upcoming on Netflix. And I didn't get to shoot a scene with her unfortunately, because she's amazing. But I had a really fun scene as a whole as like a funny, wholefoods worker, and I got to shoot on on that set. And again, they're taking all the precautions, you know, no contact and you're getting COVID tested every other day, because they need assurances that everyone on that sets safe. Everyone on that said this was pre vaccination. This was at the end of last year when I worked at magic, so nobody been vaccinated. Yep, you have to have assurances that nobody is has tested positive for covid. Otherwise, you got to shut the whole thing down. It was wild. But you know, it's a whole new world out there. And we got to be we got to be safe. And we got to be cautious, especially those of us with pre existing conditions, like type one. Yeah.

Stacey Simms 26:47 All right. So we're gonna list in the show notes. We're gonna put your IMDb so people can figure out that they've already seen you a bunch of times. Yeah. You know, like, my husband. And this is? Well, it's not really embarrassing, but my husband is a big Transformers fan. Like all the Transformers movie. So I know you've been in those. So now I got to go back and like freeze frame and find you.

Kevin Covais 27:07 Yeah, I just did one of the transformers. I had a funny, memorable scene with I think memorable with Mark Wahlberg and he would have been the fourth one. So it was I can't even keep track of it. He would know. I don't know. It was called Transformers Age of Extinction. Oh, yeah. The

Stacey Simms 27:22 one with the dinosaur. Yeah, there's

Kevin Covais 27:24 been five total, I believe. Yes, there's dinosaurs. Because Why not? Because anything goes in the transformers. You notice out? Yeah. And I think Shiloh buff did the first three. And then Mark Wahlberg took over as the lead for the next couple. And I was in the fourth one. And yeah, that was nuts. I had, it was that was such a surreal experience to

Stacey Simms 27:42 get working on a big, big, big budget. That was the hugest gi crazy. I mean, it must have been wild.

Kevin Covais 27:48 That was the hugest thing getting to shoot a scene with Mark Wahlberg and being directed by the very, very animated Michael Bay who was was cool to me, but it was just like it was I felt like pinch. I was like, how am I here right now? How did I get here? Like working on this with like, huge names like This is nuts. Yeah, heck of a time. It was a lot of fun. That's awesome.

Stacey Simms 28:07 Well, I first met you ever saw you it friends for life? Yeah. You were a special guest one year. I don't think we met the first year that I saw you speak. And then you know, you've you've basically Kevin, they kind of they really adopted you. You were on staff. They did. Tell me a little bit about how you found the folks at friends for life, which I'm sure as you're listening, you're familiar with. They talk about it all the time. But the largest family diabetes conference in probably in the world at this point.

Kevin Covais 28:33 Amazing. And the amazing work that they do over children with diabetes. Yeah, I was like you said I was kind of a stray dog who they like led into the house. They're like, Alright, well, let's domesticate this guy. And maybe he can become a part of this. I'm so blessed. One of my, you know, dearest friends, is Tom Kalia from the Diabetes Research Institute diabetes dad, as he's known. And Tom is one of the sweetest most generous guys I ever met. And I did American Idol, not to take it back to Idol . But I did idol and he reached out to my father because I was still a kid at the time. And he was a fellow long Islander and said, You know, I take part in this conference, and they do amazing work. And I would love to bring Kevin down. I had the summer free. I didn't make the American Idol tour. So I had this summer for and, and he asked to if I would come down to perform at the banquet for the 2006 friends for life conference in Orlando, Florida. And I was very excited. But I didn't know what I was getting into. I didn't know what this conference was. I didn't know that such an amazing organization existed. So I go down and I sing You Raise Me Up which was the Joshua again to bring up Josh Groban. The song that I sang on idol audition with and I sing it and it was just amazing. I had such an incredible time. And I learned more about this, what this conference was and learn of the support system that people had. And I think I was just so naive. I didn't realize that something like this even existed. And it just opened up my eyes. It opened up my eyes to how many people care about people in this world that I knew, you know, to an extent you know, around home in New York, you know, when I met these People when I met Jeff Hitchcock, when I met Laura, and all these amazing Lord bility, and all these amazing people at the conference, I was instantly just felt like family, I would go back several years thereafter, I think, in 2009, and then again, maybe around 2012 2013 as a special guest. And I kept going back as a special guest. And it was fun, because initially, I was there as kind of a guest who was promoting Idol and then, and then a younger generation of the kids that would go, I'd get to be a special guest and talk about good luck, Charlie on the Disney Channel. And that was a great fun, but then I would go and I would take part in in the conference a little bit. And then I would just kind of find myself walking around and saying hi to people and popping into the, you know, the exhibition room and popping into sports Central and playing basketball, the kids and I was like, I want to do more here, I want to do more. I got in touch with Laura. And they ended up asking me the next year like we've had just a special guest, would you want to come back and be a staff member here? And I was like, absolutely. Like I just wanted to, I wanted a bigger role. And they were so gracious as to offer me one. And now I'm just like part of the gang, which is always more fun for me anyway, because I never feel important. I never feel special. Like it's just like, I'm just one of the gang. I'm just like you. I'm just like this kid who has it. I'm just like this, you know, it's unbelievable getting to go there. Every year, they asked me to be on the team staff. And I think this past summer, yeah, was my fourth, fourth year on the team staff and I just want to go back every year, every year, they'll have me I want to go back out.

Stacey Simms 31:15 It is amazing when you don't have that community connection, and then you find it, we were kind of by ourselves. I live near Charlotte, but I don't live in Charlotte. And it seems like everybody I knew with type one with kids with type one lived further away from me. And then in 2010, children with diabetes brought a conference to Charlotte, amazing. They used to have these regional focus on technology conferences, and I went, and that was where I realized, oh my gosh, there's all these other people. There's this community, and it really inspired me to get more connected. And now I'm so lucky, we have people not, you know, you hate to have more people diagnosed, but we have four people in my area, we have, you know, more connections. So I hear you, but working with the teams, as you said, Yes, I think that's a pretty hard group. What do you do? How do you kind of get through them or talk to them?

Kevin Covais 32:01 It can be it can be I love it. Personally, I think I'd be more nervous to work with the younger kids, just in terms of not just holding their attention or whatnot, I think back to being 16. And I think back to the time I did I don't it's such a vulnerable time in your life. I think that more than anything else is that teenagers might act out or whatnot. But it's just stemming from insecurities or feelings of vulnerability, but a vulnerability about certain things in their life. And it's like, you just kind of have to, you know, give them a pass for that and try to break through the best you can. I mean, that's what I do. I you know, I never grew up a camp counselor. I never did any of that. So when I go to this thing, I look to friends of mine who were in the team group. Now, some of my best friends now who are on the team staff with me that I've met at the conference throughout the years. And I watched them do and I'm like trying to take notes because some of them are really good. And I'm like, yeah, it's tough. But it's tough to break through sometimes I think, yeah.

Stacey Simms 32:50 I'd be curious to as a parent of a team, I don't know, one parent of a kid with type one of a teenager with type one who says, Oh, my kid is perfect. Right? They're doing such a great job. I'm so happy with all of their marriage course. You know. And I, I'm wondering if there's any advice that you have as being somebody who is closer to being 16 than I am? Certainly, and who has worked with these kids, you know, what can we as parents do to support them?

Kevin Covais 33:15 That's an incredible question. I think I was naive, going into all this to see not that I didn't have struggles, but to have a support system at home like I did, where I think my parents, they were always aware of what's going on in my life. But I think it's such a give and take where obviously, my father, my mother spend 24 hours a day worrying about me as a kid with my diabetes, but not letting it show all the time and giving your child the space to sort of operate and trusting them in a way take off the training wheels and trust them to make their own decisions. Obviously, if if they need you, you're there. But also give them space, but don't smother them. I guess I it's a tough road. You know, I'm not a parent. So I'm not one to really comment on it. I can only approach it from that former teen perspective with my parents was I think my parents always did an amazing job on idol as well. I saw stage parents on idol I saw, you know, parents who were like, oh, you're gonna sing this song you're gonna do that. My folks always said to me, you know, Kevin, we're here for you. We love you. If you need help with something, let us know. But this is your thing. Obviously, you can't maybe take such a lacks approach in a certain way with diabetes, but it's informing your child to the best of your abilities always being present, always being there, but also letting them breathe and make their own decisions. I think if you can find that balance, it's really important because you see kids who don't necessarily have that are unique kids and I was naive. I thought everyone was like me who had and I thought everyone was like, you know had their ups and their downs and but good days and bad. But sometimes it's a rough road. And I I'd open my eyes to that just like going to the conference and just like going around and meeting people who have it. It's Yeah, it's not easy though. That's for sure.

Stacey Simms 34:47 Before I let you go, Kevin, your type 1 diabetes if I've got my math right, is about to turn 21. Oh, yeah.

Kevin Covais 34:54 Yeah, it's about Yeah. I could go out and go to the bars. type one. Yeah, I won't. But

Stacey Simms 35:02 I'm certainly not going to ask you to, you know, to sum everything up and tell us what you've learned or you know, anything like that. But I am curious, you know, you now as I said, you use a CGM, you use it, you still have injections, you use multiple daily injections, but it's different insulin. You know, things have come a long way you found the community to support you. Anything you would tell your 11 year old self, about my guts done, you know what you've been through,

Kevin Covais 35:26 I'd say Congrats. I mean, it's been a wild ride. And like, I haven't done things perfectly, and nobody's perfect. I think you got to give yourself a break. I think I've spent a lot of times kind of hard on myself from like a career perspective, as a singer, as an actor. And especially with my type one, it's easy to be hard on yourself, it's easy to, I think we go through these like ups and downs with this with this thing that we live with every day of our lives. And I can recall, like low points of like a really bad low or, you know, episodes that we all sort of experienced with this thing from time to time. I recall, like the immediate thing you feel is ashamed, ashamed that you allowed it to get to that point, I think if I could tell my younger self something, it's like, don't be ashamed. This is a part of the ride. Some days are amazing, some day stink, it's just a fact. No one's gonna be perfect. 19 you know, 100% of the time, it's just not it's not possible. So I think I would tell my younger self, I would say congratulations on achieving some of the stuff you've done, but also like, where to go, just, you know, get getting through it. And getting through this grind, you know? Yeah, I do know that. You know what, you know. So well. Yeah. Yeah.

Stacey Simms 36:28 I know it as a parent, which is different story. But that's fabulous. too.

Kevin Covais 36:32 Huge way to know it. Yeah. Well, Kevin, thank you so much. But it just thank you for having me. Yeah. Oh, it's

Stacey Simms 36:37 been wonderful to talk to you. I hope you'll come back. Keep us posted. Let us look for you. I will Yeah. And hopefully time will go fast. And we'll see you next summer friends for life.

Kevin Covais 36:47 That'd be amazing. Thank you so much for having me on. I really appreciate it. You're listening to Diabetes Connections with Stacey Simms.

Stacey Simms 37:01 More information about Kevin and links to what he's doing now. And links to some performances from idol back at season five at Diabetes connections.com. Every episode from 2020 on has a transcription with it as well. I'm trying to go back and fill in the blanks on the previous episodes, but boy, there are a lot of them. So I'm doing the best I can. But you can always find the information that you need. Hopefully, for each episode, they're at Diabetes connections.com and pop in the Facebook group. If you have any particular questions for me, you can always reach me at Stacey at Diabetes connections.com and Diabetes Connections is brought to you by Dexcom. And I was watching only murders in the building the other night. Are you watching this show? It's on Hulu. So not everybody gets that. But it's such a fun and interesting comedy. It's not quite as funny and silly as I thought it was gonna be. And that's not a bad thing with Steve Martin and Martin Short and Selena Gomez. And the reason I started watching it no surprise is because they have a podcast and some of the podcasting stuff is very silly. But it's fine. I love it. It's not really too far fetched. Let's just put it that way. And it's just a good show. But I got way off the subject. We were watching this I was watching by myself actually, when I got a Dexcom alert, and Benny was upstairs. He was playing video games or doing whatever he's doing upstairs. And you know, I was just thinking about how we had blood sugar checks on a timer, we had a schedule. I'm sure a lot of you did this too. Before CGM. We would check doing the finger stick the same time every day at home and at school. And whenever extra we needed to. It's amazing to think about how much our diabetes management has changed with share and follow. I mean, it didn't stop the show to get up and check him. I knew what was going on, I could decide whether to text him or if I needed to go upstairs and help them out using the share and follow apps have helped us talk less about diabetes, which I never thought what happened with a teenager, and he loves that part to trust me. That's what's so great about the Dexcom system. I think for the caregiver, the spouse, the friend, you can help the person with diabetes manage in the way that works for your individual situation. Internet connectivity is required to access Dexcom follow, separate follow up required, learn more, go to Diabetes connections.com and click on the Dexcom logo. Quick look ahead and a bit of a change in the schedule. I was set to go like many of you to the children with diabetes conference happening in White Plains, New York, the weekend of October 9, but they have moved that to a virtual conference. And I totally understand you know, you've got lots of kids uncertain situation with delta. So that will be in November. Now it is a virtual event. I will put information in the show notes. You can find out more about that we did virtual with them. Gosh, really all of 2020 of course, and it's a lot of fun. I think they do a great job. And one of the cool things they figured out early at friends for life and children with diabetes. You know children's diabetes is the organization friends for life is the event. They figured out how to help people socialize outside of the speeches and the reports and the talking which are all great. The presentations, I think are very valuable. But for me, the socializing is a huge part of why I enjoy these things. conferences, and they have these little virtual hallways where parents can drop in kids can drop in teenagers, young adults, that kind of thing. So worth checking out just for that. I'm disappointed, obviously, that we're not in person. But I'm still going to New York because this conference is 15 minutes from where my sister lives. And I haven't seen her in ages. So I'm going to go see her and hang out. And hopefully, Melissa, if you're listening, and I'm sure you're not, we're going to all the places where we ate in high school that weekend, so be prepared. We're going to Maria's pizza, we're going to diner, we're gonna make a list. So we grew up not too far from where she lives now. So that should be a lot of fun Later in the month, I'm going to be in Scottsdale, Arizona for she podcasts, which is a terrific female podcasting conference, as you would imagine, I'm really excited about that. And look, we'll just have to wait and see how these things go. Because certainly, events are touching go at this point, diabetes events, people are much more cautious and rightfully so. So we'll wait and see. But hey, that doesn't mean that we can't hang out. We can socialize. My Local Group is doing stuff online. I'm happy to come and speak to your group, virtually. I've still got my book to clinic program. I am working on Book Two. I am so excited. So still a lot going on. But man, I know I can't wait to read. We're gonna get back to normal. I don't know. But I'd like to get back to something else. Something we're socialized more. We hug more with each other more. Hang in there. Oh, my goodness. Thank you to my editor John Bukenas from auto editing solutions. Thank you so much for listening. I've got in the news every Wednesday live on Facebook, and then we turn that into an audio podcast episode every Friday. So please come back and join me for that. I'm Stacey Simms. I'll see you in a couple of days until then be kind to yourself. Benny: Diabetes Connections is a production of Stacey Simms Media. All rights reserved. All wrongs avenged

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