After participating in her first four sets of American Idol auditions in New York, Jacksonville, Louisville and San Francisco, Kara DioGuardi is beginning to feel more comfortable on the show's eighth-season judging panel.

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"I just know I'm getting my groove, loosening up and forgetting about the big elephant in the room," DioGuardi told the New York Post about joining American Idol judges Paula Abdul, Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell as the Fox mega-hit's new fourth judge.

"The first few [audition] cities I was like, 'Oh my God, the camera is on me' - it was a little strange," she continued. "But I'm starting to let my true self come out. You forget about the camera and start being you. And that's been fun for me."

DioGuardi -- who American Idol creator Simon Fuller had billed as a "smart, sassy lady" when Fox announced that she'd be joining the show -- told the newspaper she's been "pretty honest" in her opinions about the contestants.

"I think you're going to see me be nice at times, but I'm a little more hard on the contestants," DioGuardi told the Post.

"That's kind of my motto: 'All right, I'm gonna give you another chance, but you're skating on thin ice,'" she told The Post. "If there's something there, I'll give someone a shot - and then kill 'em during Hollywood week."

American Idol's eighth season will premiere in January 2009.