Success was a long time coming for Miss Ada Vox.
"I was so emotionally broken down," the 24-year-old singer told PEOPLE prior to Monday's episode. "It got me in the wrong state of mind. Through all of that, I found this inner part of myself that said that I was worth more, I found that there were people in the world who were experiences the same things as me and that I wasn't alone."
Also known as Adam Sanders when not in drag, Ada said, "Mr. Adam is the base of everything that I am. That's just who I am and what I do every day of my life. Ms. Ada is kinda of the outer exterior, is a personification of the diva in Adam."
Ada continued, "It was in that time that I was like 'You know, I've seen these drag queens and people look up to them and admire them and what they do. So let me give it a shot.' "
It took time, though, for Ada to become who she is today, and thankfully. Ada said, "I learned so much from that very first time and it gave me a sense of empowerment — like I can stand for something now and be something important for someone."
And Ada is using the past hurt and the people who thought she couldn't make it to Hollywood to propel her.
"It's been quite a journey," Ada said. "If I had come back this time around and received this much hatred and hadn't grown the way that I have, I could've been in some big trouble. But I've come a long way in the development of myself and as an entertainer."
Continued Ada, "I have a much bigger skin this time around. I'm not afraid to hear the hate. It can bounce off of me and I can use it to build myself up."
Singing in front of judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan, as well as millions of viewers, Ada said, "This has been my dream since I was a boy. It was one of those things that I was never able to let go of so many great things are going to come regardless of the outcome and I'm excited for the future that's to come. It's only up from here!"
American Idol airs on Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.