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One on One: 'Glee Project' Winner Damian McGinty Talks About Life on 'Glee'

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Nov 15, 2011 | 10:14am EST

damian mcgintyIt’s that time of year again and no I’m not talking about the impending holiday season (although that is coming up rather quickly). I’m talking about The Glee Project auditions for their upcoming second season. Thousands of talented hopefuls stood in the audition line for the chance to become the next Glee superstar, but only a select few will see that dream come to fruition. It’s an exciting, yet nerve-racking experience for any Gleek and no one knows that better than a former competitor.

Damian McGinty -- one of The Glee Project’s first season winners and the newest member of the Glee cast – came to the New York auditions to show his support for the upcoming season and to offer some words of advice to potential contestants. Luckily, I was able to chat with the adorable Irish star about his experience on both series, possible on-screen romances, and his character’s future on Fox’s hit show.

First of all, congratulations on your success on The Glee Project and your debut on Glee; It’s such an incredible accomplishment and not many people get to experience it. What were your initial thoughts when you discovered you would actually get to be on Glee?

I mean, I remember the moment. It was weird on season one of The Glee Project, obviously there were two winners. I wasn’t the only winner; Samuel was the other winner and he was actually called up first, so I thought I’d lost and it was very surreal. But then Ryan [Murphy] said that I’d also won. It’s a moment you can’t explain and it’s like you really lose all feeling and there are so many emotions and, as you can imagine, just so much adrenaline running through your body. It’s insane, it really is. It’s hard to explain, but it’s incredible. One of the best feelings I’ll ever feel.

What has life been like since you won? Has it been like a whirlwind?

It’s been insane. I mean, the winner it didn’t go out on TV until mid-August, but it happened at the end of April for us (of 2011), so I went home for a while back and when I came back I was doing a lot of work for The Glee Project. I started work at the beginning of September on set and it has been every single day for many hours and I just live off coffee, but it’s good. I love it. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m here today and I fly back to L.A. tonight and we have a 4 a.m. call in the morning. We’re filming sectionals tomorrow too.

Wow, so crazy, but so exciting though!

It really is. It really is - it’s insane, but it’s a good insane.

How has your experience changed between being on The Glee Project vs. being on Glee?

I mean, The Glee Project is a totally different thing. Number one, it’s competitive and that changes things so much you know because – for me, it didn’t change my attitude towards anything. I treat Glee the same way I treated The Glee Project. I almost treated it like a job, The Glee Project. But those people on our show were very competitive – which of course you’re going to get. It just changes the atmosphere and changes the mindset I guess, whereas on Glee it’s just totally relaxed. You know you’re there because you deserve to be there and you’re able to just kind of focus and just work hard on the job at hand and nothing else.

What would your advice be to new contestants auditioning?

My advice would be 100 percent, I cannot stress how important it is to be yourself. You know, in our year those people, there’s no doubt there were people who thought “so this kind of character isn’t on the show, so if I be this kind of character then it’ll give me a better chance of Ryan hiring me.” That’s not how it works though. You know, Glee aren’t out to find anybody in particular. They are out to find somebody who’s going to inspire them and if you’re that person by being yourself then happy days and if you’re not then, you know what, Glee isn’t for you and move onto something else, but be yourself.

What’s your favorite memory from participating in The Glee Project – besides winning?

I don’t know. Honestly, my favorite memory is probably hanging out with in particular Cameron. It was really the start of a great friendship for me, more importantly than winning a competition. I met a lot of people who are really close to my heart now and who I’ll consider lifelong friends. As I say, in particular Cameron. We live together now, so yeah outside of the competition there’s just so much more I get out of that show than just obviously winning it, so it’s crazy. So many good things came out of it.

That’s great. You guys work together and spend so much time together.

Yeah, myself and Cameron, it was almost like we were a team, helping each other and that’s the way it turned out and that’s the way we are now in the real world. He’s doing a lot of writing and recording. You know, I push him on that and likewise, me, I come in from long hours of work and he’ll have dinner ready or whatever and you know, it’s strange but it works.

Since you’re part of the Glee cast now, are you going to be a mystery guest judge at some point this season on The Glee Project?

There’s been talks. I hope so, I feel for me in particular because I experienced the bottom three quite a lot. I was put through the mill on that show, so I do feel with that experience I can teach those contestants a hell of a lot ‘cause I know exactly what it takes to kind of push yourself through. So yeah there’s talks and I would guess I’m pretty sure it’ll happen, so fingers crossed!

Do you think it would be weird at all?

Oh yeah, for sure. I mean, you know like even seeing people stand outside today. Like I never did the open casting calls, but hearing people sleeping from 10 p.m. last night and then saying to myself, wait – you know they’re out to do what I’ve done. It’s weird, it’s very weird and very surreal and I feel very blessed.

Yeah, because they look to you!

Yeah, they’re looking to me and looking to achieve what I’ve achieved and it’s a real pinch-me moment, I’m not going to lie.

Was it exciting to see Lindsay’s Glee performance?

Yeah! I heard pretty early on that I would be starting in episode three or four and Samuel wasn’t until later, but Lindsay was going to have her part in the debut episode of the season. So I mean, that girl absolutely killed it. There’s no question Lindsay is incredibly talented. I mean, there’s talks of people graduating on Glee or whatever and there’s definitely a place for Lindsay on there. She’s a powerhouse of a voice, she’s an interesting character, and she’s a great actress. Whatever “it” is, she has it.

Should we expect you to get a slushy to the face anytime soon?

To be honest, it hasn’t happened yet. I think everything else has happened like getting thrown into lockers and getting thrown into doors. It’s been a little bit of a crazy ride so far.

Any upcoming obstacles for your character?

Well to be honest, Rory’s having a really tough time of fitting in. It’s a real journey. He’s a kid compared [to everyone else] – since everyone on the show is graduating. It’s kind of the way it is in real life – I’ve come in at 19, so I have this fresh approach and those guys are late twenties, near thirty. It’s kind of the way it is in real life. In the story I’ve come into the show as Rory Flannigan, who’s very young and very innocent and just wants to fit in with these pros who have been there for a long time, and that’s kind of the way it is in real life.

Finn was actually the one to introduce you to the New Directions and kind of took you under his wing. Will Finn and Rory be the new Finn and Puck?

Finn and Rory are definitely close. We just shot a scene last night actually, which was very – it’s just very cute, I don’t know. Finn really looks after Rory. It was actually the Christmas episode and there’s a little bromance going on there. Rory just really looks up to Finn. Rory’s like “Oh My God, it’s Finn” so yeah it’s really cute.

In your debut episode, “Pot O’ Gold,” you were hoping to get together romantically with Brittany, but that ended up not working out the way you wanted it to. Should we expect any new crushes to in the future?

To be honest, I look at every script, hoping. But not a lot has come up yet. With Rory I feel like there’s so much else to kind of talk about and to go into with his character other than a relationship so far, but I think it’s going to be – you know one of his first lines was “I’m still a virgin” so it’s obviously in Ryan’s head and I don’t know, it’d be really cute. I always think any of the girls on Glee are cute, so pair me up with any of them and I will smell my way through that date. It’s all good.

What songs would you love to have Rory sing on the show?

I’d love to do anything – like Foster the People, Michael Bublè. Michael Bublè’s never been done on Glee, so I would love to bring a bit of him. I would love to actually bring UK music to Glee. Like people who are huge in the UK, but aren’t even known over here. I feel it would really be really interesting to bring those songs over here to introduce to people. I don’t know, it’s something I want to talk to Ryan about, but I think it’d be a great idea.

Yeah, that would be exciting. What has it been like working on set with the cast so far? Were you really nervous?

Oh yeah, come one. I was absolutely sh---ing myself. You have to remember, these people have been together two or three years now, literally living in each other’s back pockets. So going into that, when they’re together as a group, at the beginning it was so intimidating. You know, they’re really close, tightly knitted, they know each other inside out and walking up to them as a newcomer while they’re sitting in a big group is scary. But they’ve directly told me that out of all the newcomers, I actually fitted in the best. So it’s nice to hear, but I’m just getting on with each and every one of them amazing.

That’s great. They all seem really nice on-screen.

They really are. I mean, you know essentially, I feel like if you come in acting like somebody that’s bigger or feels that they deserve to be there then it will be a different reception, like everywhere I guess. But I’ve come in and I know I can really learn a lot from these guys and I really look up to these guys and I respect the experience they’ve had and I’m just willing to draw from that and get some knowledge and improve.

On Glee, Brittany thinks you’re speaking a different language. Has anyone in the cast had trouble understanding your accent?

Lea [Michele] never has a clue what I’m saying (laughs). She always asks twice. I mean, literally it’s still happening as soon as yesterday. It’s just hilarious. I talk to her and she always asks twice, “Sorry, what was that there?” And I’m like, “Alright, here we go again (laughs).” I’ll repeat it. But she’s the cutest, I really love Lea. She is awesome, she really is. She’s so nice. We get on great, which might not have been a relationship I expected to see – Damian McGinty and Lea Michele – it’s weird, but she’s just the nicest girl and she’s like a sister. She really is and she’s just incredibly talented.

Your character recently joined the New Directions after experiencing a fair share of bullying at school – something Glee is constantly working to prevent. Do you have any advice for kids who might have a similar issue?

Yeah, I mean if there’s ever a similar scenario in school and you’re getting bullied, don’t be afraid to tell anybody, don’t be afraid to talk about it. I understand that it’s probably hard and you’re probably scared to talk about it in case it happens again or gets worse, but the only way it’s going to stop is if you tell somebody – go to a teacher, go to your family and get it sorted and deal with it because these people – bullying is wrong and someone doesn’t deserve to get bullied, so yeah it’s definitely a good idea to talk about it.

Click on the image to see more of Damian and his Glee castmates.

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You’ve had a few solos on the show now, which you did awesome by the way. What are you plans on life after Glee? Do you know yet – like acting or music or both?

It’s crazy, there’s been a lot of offers coming in for different things. It’s hard to know what to do. I mean, honestly in my head, my plan is to get a full time role on Glee, that’s my plan. But regardless of that I’m already thinking of what I’m going to do after Glee. You know, I want to do music, that’s number one. I want to record albums and sell albums. But you know what, now that I’ve started acting, I’ve got the bug and I want to get better at acting and I want to become an incredible actor and do acting for a living as well, so I’d love to do both.

Well and you’re so likable too. Obviously, you won and people love you. I think it’s awesome and I think you’re doing a great job, so I look forward to what you’re character brings to the show.

Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. It was a pleasure!

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