Fantasia Barrino on If She'd Want to Replace Katy Perry on 'American Idol' (Exclusive)

The singer and actress revealed to ET how she feels about the idea of returning home to the show she won exactly 20 years ago.

Fantasia Barrino would "love" to take Katy Perry's spot as one of the three judges on American Idol, 20 years after she won the show herself.

Talking with ET's Rachel Smith from the TIME 100 Gala in New York City on Thursday, the 39-year-old singer and actress says she did not hear about Perry, 39, deciding to step away from the singing competition at the end of this season, but notes that if producers give her a call, she would be down to partake. 

"I'm gonna be honest, I would love to," The Color Purple actress says of potentially being a judge. "I think that those kids, when they're coming into the game, I think that they need somebody to come in and not only show them how to sing a song, but how to handle the business because it's a lot." 

Fantasia Barrino on 'American Idol' in 2004 - Getty Images

She adds, "Just having somebody to say, 'Hey, make sure you have this, make sure you have that. OK, sing this song, sing that song.' Getting to know them, their upbringing, what makes you want to sing, why do you love this, why do you want this? So I would love to do it. I would be up for it."

Barrino says the combination of being a TIME 100 honoree in the same year as her milestone American Idol win anniversary is an overwhelming situation that didn't quite hit her until it was nearly showtime.

"When I walked into the room yesterday for rehearsal, my husband came up and said, 'Babe, it's TIME 100, and I'm like, 'OK.' And he was like, 'No, babe, you're not excited enough, do you understand?'" she recalls. "It wasn't until I walked into the room to rehearse to perform and I was like, 'I know this room.' Just last year, I was watching this same show and I said, 'One day I'm gonna be in that room,' and a year later, here I am."

It would certainly be a victory lap return for the American Idol season 3 winner, who clinched the title in 2004 at just 19 years old. Since her win, Barrino has gone on to win a GRAMMY and several Billboard Music Awards, along with countless nominations for both singing and acting. 

Most recently, she scored nominations at the Golden Globes and SAG Awards for her role as Celie in 2023's The Color Purple, a role she previously played on Broadway from 2006 to 2007. The performance on the Great White Way also made her the first (but certainly not the last) American Idol alum to perform on stage in New York City. Barrino's season 3 Idol competitor, Jennifer Hudson -- who took seventh place during their season -- would later go on to star as Shug Avery in the 2015 revival of The Color Purple

Fantasia Barrino at the TIME 100 Gala - Getty Images

As for other big-name stars in the running, ET recently spoke with current judges Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan, as well as the show's host and executive producer, Ryan Seacrest, who all weighed in with their own contenders to fill Perry's empty seat. 

Richie, 74, told ET's Denny Directo that not only has he had Kelly Clarkson -- the first-ever winner of the show -- in mind, but he recently ran into her and did his best to not oversell the position.  

"I didn't want to bring that up," Richie joked. "Not only did I think about it, I slipped important notes. You know what I'm saying, Kelly, we've been together a long time."

Bryan, 47, addressed the possibility of recent guest coach, Meghan Trainor, taking up the mantle, saying that she is just one of many talented possible options for the role. 

Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Ryan Seacrest - Monica Schipper/Getty Images

"I think Meghan's always been real fun. You know, that's kinda been her brand, to have fun," Bryan shared, adding that he has a list of about 10 names he would love to see join the table. "[She's] real witty, so certainly."

Seacrest agreed with the country singer's comments, saying that he believes she would bring a certain level of energy and spunk to the show -- one desperately needed after the "Unconditionally" singer departs in a matter of weeks. 

"She was very good," Seacrest said of Trainor. "Meghan is a super talent, too, and she's got a great sense of humor. She's fun and she's spontaneous."

No matter who fills Perry's position -- although most fans agree it should be a female singer -- Richie says it's imperative that the newbie mesh well with the existing judges, host and staff on the show, as they have a very specific rapport to uphold. 

"Finding someone to replace Katy with a sense of humor, it's gotta be fun but no ego because we're gonna insult each other so much," the "Hello" singer said, laughing.