If you've been tuning into "The Glee Project" this season, then you probably already know that Nellie Veitenheimer isn't the most eloquent when it comes to expressing herself. But then again, not many 19-year-olds are.
This week's "Glee Project" tested the "Glee" hopefuls' theatricality by challenging them to step into the iconic shoes -- or in Shanna's case, Lady Gaga's meat dress -- of superstars, past and present. Tomboy Nellie underwent a head-to-toe Britney Spears transformation, but she just wasn't bringing "Baby One More Time" flirtiness that Ryan Murphy and the mentors wanted.
HuffPost TV chatted with the "Glee Project" castoff -- who recently moved to Los Angeles -- about her elimination, becoming Britney Spears and the bromance between Blake and Michael.
For the past few weeks, you had been getting the same criticism: It didn't seem like you wanted to win the competition. Why do you think it was so hard for you to express yourself in front of Ryan Murphy?
I've always been terrible at expressing myself. I was so intimidated by everyone else and how badly they wanted it. I didn't like the idea of my desires being compared to everyone else's desires. It was a little bit frustrating, but I am happy with my responses. I think they came off as being weak, but I hope everyone did see how much I really did want to be on "Glee."
Robert Ulrich said that felt a lot of teenaged girls would relate to you and root for you on "Glee" because you are so awkward and introverted. Did you take that as a compliment?
I didn't before! But I see it now, especially after seeing everyone's reactions toward me on the show. I realize now that I didn't need to compare myself to everyone else, and that I'm representing a large group of young adults. People have been reaching out to me and telling me that I've helped them get through the day at school. It's amazing and kind of inspiring to be a part of that. And they help me too. I need to keep growing and not be afraid of what's out there.
During "Sexuality Week," you completely broke out of your comfort zone, but then during the next few weeks, you experienced a sort of regression. You didn't feel comfortable being sexy, and it seemed like that was all they wanted you to be on the show. How did you respond to that?
There were so many things that I was trying to focus on. One of my big critiques throughout the competition was that I needed to pop more in the group, and it became frustrating. I was being put in these sexy roles, and they wanted to push me out of my comfort zone, but it only made me get up into my own head. I think I left on a good note, but I do agree that after "Sexuality Week," my confidence took a dip. But I felt great for "Theatricality Week!" I finally felt like I was showing them what they wanted, but I guess they wanted even more.
What was the first thought that popped into your head when they told you that you were going to be Britney Spears?
I about died! The first thing I thought of was her sexiest, most provocative outfit and I was like, "WHY?" I was truly terrified that I was going to be half-naked with a snake around my neck. But the outfit I ended up getting wasn't that bad at all. It ended up being really fun, but initially, all I could imagine was the newer Britney and all of her provocative outfits. Thankfully, I got the younger, cuter, more innocent Britney.
After they announced that you were going to be Britney, the first thing I thought of was "I'm a Slave 4 U" Britney.
I know! That's what everyone was wondering too! I'm so happy that they went with school girl Britney.
That being said, I think everyone can identify with a Britney. I'd like to think that I'm "Sometimes" Britney, while Ryan [Murphy] is definitely "Toxic" Britney and Zach [Woodlee] is "Oops!...I Did It Again" Britney. Which Britney do you think you are?
[Laughs.] That's amazing! You know what? I've never been a fan, and I've never been a hater. I'm just kind of indifferent when it comes to Britney. But I didn't mind being "Baby One More Time" Britney.
If you could have been any other icon, who would you have chosen?
It would have been more fun to play a rocker chick, but the reason that I didn't have an answer for Ryan is because I ended up embracing Britney. She was really fun to play.
Well you didn't have much to work with. They put you in the fruit aisle.
It was definitely an odd situation. There were only two things that I could do: stand there and lean back. I think the problem that they noticed was that I didn't jump into it quickly enough. That was understandable. But yeah, it was awkward.
At least you didn't get the meat dress!
That would have been awful! Shanna did an amazing job. It was terrible. It might have been the most awful thing that I've ever smelled. I can't imagine wearing it. People were trying to spray perfume on her, but it wasn't helping. It was literally nauseating. She's so tough.
You were paired with Blake quite a bit throughout the competition. It seemed like you two worked well together. Were you and Blake close?
Michael and Blake were definitely my best friends in the competition. I think after "Sexuality Week," the mentors realized that I worked really well with him. I just felt so comfortable working with him, and I'm so thankfully for that. He's amazing and such a fantastic actor. We had a lot of similar ideas, so it was very seamless getting to work with him.
Blake and Michael have serious bromance.
Oh yeah! For sure! It was a bromance. I wish the show could showcase more of those behind-the-scenes moments because it really is such a huge part of the "Glee Project" experience. We've all remained so close even after the show.
What sort of character did you see yourself playing on "Glee?"
The ironic thing about that is when I was on "The Glee Project," I never had an answer for that question. That was part of my problem. I wasn't confident on where I would fit on "Glee." But now that the show's over, and after seeing all of these amazing responses, I realize that I could have been that voice for all of the awkward, more introverted girls in school. I think it would have been really fun to play a tomboy character who is kind of in the background, but then she joins the glee club and totally rocks the house and surprises everyone. I feel like a really vulnerable character, like me, could have been great for the show.
Who's your favorite character on the show?
It's probably between Puck and Santana. I love their sarcasm. I would have loved to play a more introverted, female version of Puck. It would have been hilarious to play a quirky girl who thinks she's a badass but she totally isn't at all.
I know you recently moved to L.A., so what are you working on now?
Right now, honestly, I'm playing it by ear. I have no immediate plans. I just want to keep acting and singing. I know everyone thinks that I just want to be a singer-songwriter, but I do have a love for acting, and I'm going to be pursuing that as well.
"The Glee Project" airs on Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. ET on Oxygen..
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