Being Sugar Motta: Vanessa Lengies on Her Quirky Character, Crazy Improv, 2AM Workdays — Exclusive!
To be the new girl is never easy, but being the new girl on Glee — now in its third season — must be nothing short of nerve wracking. No one knows this better than Vanessa Lengies (Sugar Motta), who loudly entered the show in the first episode, and then promptly joined the chorus, living her life as a gleek episode by episode. Like many recurring actors in the past, Vanessa’s appearances left her McKinley classmates wondering how long she’d really be sticking around.
In an exclusive interview with Vanessa, Wetpaint Entertainment talked about her character, Sugar Motta’s singing skills, fitting into what she calls “the tight-knit tribe” of Glee and how she imagines Sugar making her eventual exit.
We've seen you sing in group numbers, and obviously, not much has been made of the fact that Sugar can't sing. Do you think you'll get another opportunity to actually show off your talents?
I think it would be funny if they went that route. Everyone either wants to see me learn how to sing, like blow people out of the water, or just see me try again and be really awful because they thought it would be funny. But I really don't know. I know that every time I go into the recording booth, I always try to sing whatever part they want me to sing as Sugar would sing it. They're always like, “No, you need to sing this okay.”
So Sugar is supposed to be a better singer now? They don't want her to be that girl anymore?
I don't think they do, but it's never really said. I'm still just trying to stick to my guns. This is a really funny quirk for her to have. I'm representing a lot of people out there with not so great singing voices, so in my heart, I would want her to just stay strong and love Glee and love performing and just love her voice. She loves her voice, and it's terrible, and I love that about her! I think it's endearing.
But from the beginning, she was supposed to open her mouth, and that was supposed to come out?
Yeah. I didn't choose to make her a bad singer. That was written in the script. But it was fun because all of the performances you see on the show are prerecorded, so everyone's lip syncing to their song, but I was like, “I'll just sing a cappella because how am I going to prerecord her singing badly?” So Eric [Stoltz, the director] let me do my thing for that performance, and we didn't really talk about what I was going to do. I was just kind of like, “I got this. I'll make it funny, and I'll make it bad and believable.”
And since then, most of my stuff is improvising because she's just there. She either doesn't have lines or she's not mentioned but she's just part of the group. So I have fun utilizing all of my improv skills and things I've learned in the past. That part of it's been fun.
What's it like to be the new girl on Glee?
I think that they've been a really tight-knit group for a really long time, and they were being apprehensive at first because who knows how long I was going to be there. They're a very, very, close tight-knit tribe. So I think it was just like a normal “getting to know you” kind of situation. I wouldn't say that I was welcomed with open arms, but I think that naturally over time, we’ve all gotten really close. And I think that they're all really, really great people, very deserving of this phenomenon that was given to them.
You share their hours, right?
The hours are crazy. Yes. I've never worked so hard on anything else. I've never seen actors work as hard as they do. I think it's just the combination of singing, dancing, acting, and also being in group scenes is exhausting because everybody is there with all of the energy of whatever day they had, whatever thing is going on in their life, what character story lines they're going through, but there’s like 15 of us. So it's a lot of strong personalities. And the fact that we're there until 1 or 2 a.m, singing and dancing, it's just collectively more than other shows that I've worked on.
Is Sugar leaving Glee any time soon? I don't know what the future holds, but there's no story line that I've read where Sugar gets a sugar overdose and has to go to the hospital. It would be an amazing story line to have Sugar exit on: She ate too much candy.
Yeah. I hope so too. And if not, I'm happy to be there. I'm happy to sing and dance along and be in this fun, fantastical show that makes so many people happy. I mean that honestly is the only reason I do what I do. It's because I want to affect people. And if I'm making them happy, if I'm a part of something that makes them happy, then it’s all good. It’s all great.