“The Glee Project” wraps up tonight as finalists Ali, Aylin and Blake do their best to win over “Glee” mastermind Ryan Murphy in the season two finale. The good news is that they’ll be joined by all their eliminated castmates for the final video assignment, in which the GleePros go to prom. I had a chance to talk to a few finalists and a few of those returning for the finale during TCAs. Ali, Shanna, Aylin and Abraham were happy to talk about some low points (think meat dress), high points (almost everything else) and why they all became besties instead of rivals.
HitFix: So, you guys have had some tough times on the show. Tell me about the Lady Gaga meat dress. Why was that so terrible?
Shanna: Because it’s just real meat! When I first put it on it was refrigerated, then after hour two it was warm instead of cold, and you’re sweating in it and it’s raw meat and it was hot on set with all the lights and stuff, and I couldn’t sit down. Every time I would breathe, it would move and the stuff underneath it would just waft up.
HitFix: But you didn’t throw up, did you?
Shanna: I did, though.
Abraham: Shanna is one of the most professional people I know. When we were doing the shoot, we were lifting the dress for her, but in doing so, it smelled so bad they had people spraying perfume on her, because Girl smelled like dead, rancid cow.
Shanna: It smelled like roadkill.
HitFix: Abraham, have you come to terms with Nikki’s androgyny comments? That shook you during the show.
Abraham: It did affect my performance at the time, because I felt there was a certain insinuation of sorts in that, but I’ve talked to Nikki since then. I have so much love and respect for her, but at the same time I know how to stick up for myself. I played soccer as a kid but I also baked in my Easy Bake oven, like, “Top Chef” status. I have both masculine and feminine qualities, and I think a lot of people feel pressured by society and feel put into a niche as a result, my point was I’m free, I can do the masculine and feminine. I can strut to David Bowie and I can do LMFAO. I’m free, no labels. We are young and wild and free, baby!
HitFix: Ali, you seemed to have a very rough time during the pool shoot. What was going on?
Ali: When we were doing the slushy shot, it was literally thirty seconds of me being hit in the face with slushies. My body temperature is really sensitive. I really like pushing my limits, but in this case it was probably too far. When the shot was done, I couldn’t breathe and I was having problems breathing. I just had to warm up and get my temperature back. I was okay and I was able to move forward, but the day of the shoot, that was really hard and it was scary.
Abraham: And she killed it.
HitFix: Aylin, you actually lost a boyfriend, at least temporarily, on the show. Charlie was sent home. How difficult was that? But then, it’s difficult whenever someone goes home, isn’t it?
Aylin: It’s horrible, because we get so close to each other in that house, especially with me and Charlie. When he left, that’s why I was so messed up. The week after he left, I was just annoyed by everyone. It took a while to adjust to not having Charlie’s presence, because he grounded me a lot. That was hard.
HitFix: You didn’t get much of a chance to prepare each week. Did you try to guess what the themes would be?
Abraham: We had a lot of fun doing that. Tenacity, it was never even a theme on the show, but we guessed it. Ali: We guessed the song that week, too. We got good at that.
HitFix: But even if you guessed right, it must have been rough not knowing what was coming, right?
Abraham: We were thrown into a bubble. We don’t know anything. While it is sort of scary and nerve wracking not knowing what to expect, that’s what this industry is. You never know who you’re going to meet or what you’re going to be doing. But whatever it is, you better work and you better do it, because there are a lot of people waiting to take that spot.
Ali: I think in the beginning it caused a lot of anxiety, because all of us are overachievers and wanting to prepare! We wanted to put our best foot forward and so we felt like we should be able to prepare, but I guess part of this experience is just letting go a little bit and that’s what makes the show exciting, is to watch people step out of their comfort zones.
HitFix: Have you learned anything from one another?
Shanna: There were a few people on this show who didn’t necessarily know if this was what they wanted to do, and I think that kinda helped me know that this is what I want to do, and if I was ever asked a question is this what you want to do with your career, I would definitely be able to answer yeah to it, and I learned that from watching others go through that process. We were all in different places career wise. Like I was just about to graduate in musical theater from Auburn University, so I was ready to start my career, and some people are finishing high school. So different mindsets. I learned a lot from watching other people.
Ali: I feel so grateful to have had that experience with fourteen people who were on the show, because through every single person you learned something new in yourself. Whether it be work ethic of something personal, we were all we had. We didn’t have our family with us, we didn’t have our friends. We were cut off from the world, so we really relied on each other for support, and that was the thing I was really scared about when we got there, was it going to be really competitive and cutthroat, but everyone so deeply cared about each other. It was an incredible experience.
HitFix: Of course, all of you eventually had to stand before Ryan Murphy to perform. Was that intimidating?
Abraham: It’s so weird. I think we can all agree when we started on this show, we started out as fans of Ryan and his work, everything from “Popular” to “Nip/Tuck” to “Glee” and “American Horror Story.” When you work with someone, it changes. It’s not just about admiring them anymore. It’s about respect, it’s about learning different vantage points on this industry and what this job entails. I love Ryan. Ever since callbacks, he was almost like my fairy godfather. I felt he saw me like an avatar right away. I’ve always felt so comfortable around him. So while it is nerve wracking because he does determine your fate in this competition, to be able to perform in front of him and the mentors is a blessing. Not many people can say that in this world.
Shanna: At callbacks with Ryan and with the mentors, especially the guest mentors, it was never being terrified or being scared. I wanted to prove that I could be on set with them and that I could go toe to toe with them in a scene and in an acting scene.
Aylin: For me at first it was super intimidating, because I was in the bottom the first week and I had no idea what to expect. Like great, I have to see Ryan the first week, I don’t know what he’s going to think about me. But then you learn all he wants to see is you and your personality. So once you get that in your head, the intimidation goes away. You just have to be who you are.