Ali Stroker on Glee Project Memories, Playing Katy Perry, and Her Broadway Dreams — Exclusive!
During the Season 2 finale of The Glee Project, we at last learned which of the final three contenders will star in the coveted 7-episode arc on Glee. Though she didn't end up winning the final competition, with her cheery smile, inspiring personal story, and strong musical theatre background, contender Ali Stroker still stood out from the rest of the pack since the very beginning.
Wetpaint Entertainment caught up with the 24-year-old New York City gal to get her thoughts on the competition, find out which of this season’s music videos was her favorite, and to hear what her dream role on Glee would be.
Is it hard to keep the biggest secret in the world? Yes, it is. It’s been so hard for so long.
When you went into the competition, how much were you willing to talk about yourself, or was it an open book? I was really excited about talking about my story. I’ve always performed. It’s just such a perfect opportunity to be able to perform and tell my story because no matter where I go, my story comes with me. I roll into a room. So to be able to elaborate a bit and expose the kinds of things that I go through, and my struggles and my triumphs, that to the world, that is the greatest gift to be able to share.
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Have you received tons of correspondence from fans? I have, and it’s really, really encouraging to hear from people that they feel inspired to do what they love because of me. And that was my goal to really prove to everyone that your limitations can be your opportunity.
What was the hardest part of the competition for you? The hardest part was the being away from my friends and my family and also working in such an extreme way. We, all day, would be filming and the challenges were really difficult. And sometimes I had some health problems, but overall, I knew why I was there, and I always tried to stay focused on that. It was such a positive experience.
Was there a moment where you thought, I could really win this? I think the first time I won the homework assignment, I was like, I can do this. I really have this in me, and getting to talk to the cast members now of Glee. You’re so close, you can taste it.
Who was your favorite mentor? I loved working with Grant Gustin [Sebastian] because he has a theater background, and we had a lot in common. It was fun to get to know him. I mean Jane Lynch [Sue] was definitely a huge highlight. She’s one of my idols, and getting to meet Lea [Michele (Rachel)] and Chris Colfer [Kurt], that was really thrilling. I feel like I’ve been watching them for years and to actually meet them in person was really exciting.
Were there any surprising aspects to meeting them? I assume you go in with tons of expectations when meeting someone like Lea Michele. Every time we had a new guest mentor, it was always a surprise. Dianna [Agron], for example, plays a very specific character on Glee, and she is so kind in person. Not that I don’t think Quinn is nice, but she went out of her way so much to make us feel like superstars. And she gave us so much encouragement. I mean I was just so blown away by her. I thought she was really the definition of an incredible mentor.
Have you thought at all about what kind of character you’d want to play on Glee? Absolutely, I’ve actually gone through many different ideas of characters that I would want to play, but at this point, my dream would be to play a girl who’s not as confident about performing and then meeting everybody from the glee club and then her true personality would really come out, and she would be kind of sassy, dry, funny. There would be some kind of connection with Artie[Kevin McHale]. I don’t know if it necessarily has to be like a love connection, but definitely, I think, that that is an interesting dynamic that we haven’t seen on the show. We’ve seen, I guess, now Quinn and his relationship when she’s in a chair, but I think it would be really interesting.
We know that the people who won last year got parts that were very much inspired by who they are. Did that influence you at all in this competition? Absolutely. I think that when competing on the show, the most important thing to remember was to be yourself because that’s how Ryan [Murphy] becomes inspired to write a part for you.
Was there a moment when you thought you were going home? No. I mean I never really went there. I didn’t want to go there. If I was sent home then that was the reality of the situation, but I never went there. I really wanted to stay positive and believe that I had a shot. Absolutely, there were definitely moments through the competition where I wished I had done better, but through all those moments, I was learning so much that it didn’t really ever get defeated. I just felt like, “Okay. I can learn from that.”
Tyler Golden/Oxygen Media
What was your favorite moment of the show? My favorite moment of the show is probably during theatricality when we did, “When I Grow Up,” and like playing Katy Perry and that entire music video was so fun.
And whether your future includes Glee or not, what are some of your long-term plans, career wise? Well, I want to be on Broadway, and I am writing an original musical, a one-woman show, which I’m really excited about. And I’m a part of a non-profit called Be More Heroic which is an anti-bullying campaign, and I think that helping people and really inspiring and encouraging kids to pursue their dreams no matter what their obstacles is so important to me. I’ve been given so much, and I really want to give back. So that’s definitely a big part of my long-term goals.