As The Glee Project nears its end, the four finalists are beyond relieved that the secret they have been keeping for four months is finally about to be revealed. But don’t even bother pumping 18-year-old Alex Newell for information about who wins. “I like my house,” the sassy contestant told us when we spoke to him on the phone.
In this exclusive interview with Wetpaint Entertainment, he tells us about dealing with mean comments online, meeting his version of Santa Claus, and whose relative he would play on Glee.
What has this experience been like for you?
Oh my God, this experience has been so surreal. I’m noticed wherever I go. People walk up to me, and they tell me how they root for me and how they appreciate what I’m doing on the show. It’s just been so amazing.
What's been the hardest thing for you about being on the show?
The hardest thing would have to be the repercussions of what people say about me and how they perceive me on the show.I mean, I also get a lot of hate comments and it's really sad how people think I'm just this evil person who takes everybody else out of the competition. People think it's my fault that Matheus went home. People think it's my fault that Cameron decided that he wanted to leave. And they think it was my fault that Marisa went home, when all I did was sing. I'm not the one that makes the ultimate decision. Ryan is. So obviously he saw something in me that he didn't see in the other person. There was another person that was alongside of me that was singing that same night too. So I don't understand how I could take all the blame, especially for little comments that I may have said here and there.
Those comments, do they mean anything to you?
At the end of the day, no, they don't mean anything because I'm the one that’s on a TV show. And at the same time, it's just like, I'm better than that. I'm not what they think I am.
There must also be comments about who you are you as a person. Do those hurt in a different way?
Yeah, they hurt. When they start pinpointing my race and my sexual orientation, those kinds of things start to hurt because I thought a lot of people were past that in our society.
So if you were to play a character on Glee, and you could write it yourself, who would you play?
I would play anybody that was in contact or talked to or sang with Miss Amber Riley.
Have you thought about whether it would it be as a friend or a nemesis?
It's probably going to be a relative since we look so much alike. Like it's uncanny. I kind of get glimpses of it. I would love to just sing with her and act with her and be her best friend and hang out on the weekends with her.
Has Ryan given any sort of indication what kind of character you would play if you were the winner?
From the last episode he said he kind of envisioned me as the love child between Kurt and Mercedes. The freshman that’s coming in, and they kind of take me under their wing.
Why do you think you made it this far?
I’m hoping because Ryan liked me, and he saw something in me that he could write for on his show, his baby, the thing that he loves most.
I’ve been talking to the other contestants about how when you sing for Ryan, it’s because you weren’t very good that week, but at the same time, it’s an amazing opportunity to audition for him. How did you approach that?
I took it as my last chance performance, my last audition, a once in a lifetime thing. I was fighting for a job. I was fighting for my life, something I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and that's how I went into it. After doing it four times, standing there in front of Ryan Murphy is a breeze. But you still have that little feeling inside of you that you still are scared. You still wonder what he's thinking in his head, what he's writing down in his journal.
What's the first time like?
I was absolutely scared out of my mind. I didn't know what he was going to say. I didn't know what he was going to think. I didn't know what I was going to do.
Does it get easier the second time…the fourth time?
It wears and tears, but at the same time you're like, all right. I know it. I'm going to do it. I know how I should approach the situation. I know that I can't let myself get down. I can't break down while I'm in rehearsal because if I break down, that's less time I have to rehearse the song. That’s less time that I have to prepare for when I am in front of Ryan.
So who was your favorite mentor, guest judge?
Idina Menzel. She was absolutely amazing, and since I won that week and I got to talk to her, I was absolutely floored. I mean, she's amazing, and she taught me so much. How to take life experiences and put them in the current situation that you have to act out which helped me in the long run.
What was it like to meet her in person?
Oh my God, she was right there, and it was just like, this can't be happening. It's like, meeting Santa. Even though Santa doesn't exist, Idina Menzel is like Santa. She's amazing, and just to get a glimpse of her was just the best thing ever.
I assume this is like the dream come true. What would winning this competition mean for you?
Oh, winning the competition would just mean the world to me. It would mean that I could finally do what I love on a greater scale. All of my friends have the goal of making it to Broadway and to just be on the stage and have their name on a marquee. But at the same time, the greater scale, you can do the same thing on television and talk to someone differently and relate to someone, some man, woman, or child the same way that you would on stage.
How has it been watching yourself back on TV?
Oh my God, it's so funny and strange. I have the most annoying voice on television I've ever heard in my entire life. I think I'm worse than Fran Drescher! It's so annoying, but at the same time I love it. I kind of pictured myself on TV when I was younger, so it's kind of strange that it's nothing new in my mind.