Credit: FOX

On the outset, X Factor Season 2 contestants Tate Stevens and CeCe Frey couldn’t be more different. Tate is a married 37-year-old construction worker with a love of country ballads and cowboy hats. Sassy CeCe, a 21-year-old songstress from Illinois, is equal parts Ke$ha and Lana Del Rey — and often sports leopard-print face paint. Despite their age and stylistic differences, Tate and CeCe have bonded during their grueling X Factor tenure. Speaking exclusively to Wetpaint Entertainment, Tate opens up about how CeCe is taking the judges’ harsh criticism — and how he’s pretty emotional, too!

CeCe was saying how you’ve been very supportive of her. Do you think this is rough on her?
It is. It’s very rough. She’s out here by herself and she’s gotten a lot of harsh criticism in the last several week and to have that and really not have anybody to lean on, it’s tough and I don’t mind talking and being that guy. CeCe’s a really good person.

She comes here and it’s like her fists are up, but behind the scenes?
…Not so much. And we all put on a front. I’m not a tough guy, I’m pretty emotional.