08/23/2011 10:29 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

'The Glee Project' Crowns Two Winners: Damian McGinty, Samuel Larsen Q&A

Ryan Murphy surprised everyone--including the contestants--on Sunday night's finale of "The Glee Project." The search to find the next "Glee" star resulted in not one, but two winners. Samuel Larsen, 19, and Damian McGinty, 18, both won seven-episode arcs this season on Fox’s hit series, but that wasn't all. Murphy also surprised runners-up Lindsay Pearce, 20, and Alex Newell, 18, with two-episode arcs this season.

The Huffington Post talks to Larsen and McGinty about their surprising dual victories, their potential "Glee" characters and their love of Darren Criss.


How does it feel to have the world now know you're the winner of "The Glee Project?"
It feels overwhelming. I have every emotion running through my body at the exact same time and I don't know which one to choose and run with. It's crazy, it's amazing really.

What did it feel like to find out Damian also won, since you were told first?

I felt amazing, it felt like I won twice! I love Damian. I told him many, many times that if I don't get this, I want you to get this. Just because he has that certain humbleness to him, and it's good to see someone humble succeed. I just knew that if it wasn't going to be me, I wanted it to be Damian. That it got to be both of us is amazing. It's good, too, because we're both about to start a chapter of our lives that's intimidating and scary. It's nice to know we're not doing it alone. We can call each other and be like, 'How's your day of shooting? Mine's crazy!'

Have you started filming yet?
We haven't yet. They're still working on the first two episodes. I have no idea when they're gong to introduce us but I'm sure it's in the works.

What do you hope for your character to be like?
I'm hoping it's along the line of what Ryan has suggested in "The Glee Project." Writing me in as the indie rocker kid and a Christian character. Those are two things that really make me excited. It's one thing to be on "Glee," but to play that character, the way he was describing the character to me, taking myself out of the whole thing that would be my favorite character on the show. I would relate to him. They're great writers, whatever they come up with will be great.

Are you ready to get slushied?
I am so prepared to get slushied! Let's get ready, let's do it.

Maybe Max Adler can throw the first one.
Heck yeah, that would be awesome. I'd love that.

What's the reaction been like from the rest of the current "Glee" cast?
I remember Ashley, one of the first things she said, to be prepared for every time you walk into a bar, "Don't Stop Believing" is just going to start playing. I think one of the things that hit me the hardest was Darren Criss said, 'Hey, welcome to the family!' I was like, 'What did just say to me? That's ridiculous!' It's just really cool that they're embracing us. Especially Darren, he's only been in 13 episodes of the show. It wasn't long ago when he was in our shoes, wondering if he was going to be on the show or not. I think he gets it the most.

What do you expect on your first day on set?
Tears. Shaking. definite shaking. I might have to take a couple breaks to throw up in between scenes. It's just going to be overwhelming. I'm a little scared about who my first scene is going to be with. Obviously they've been doing this show for years and I'm just going to show up. I'm excited though. Being a big fan of "Glee," I want to do the show justice. I'm going to give it everything I have.

"Glee" is built on romantic relationships, are there any characters you'd want your character to get together with?
That is a hard question. I've always thought Quinn and Brittany are my two favorites, and Santana is pretty awesome. I don't know. Maybe Quinn, because I could see if he writes my character in the way he's been talking about, Quinn is the Christian girl in school and that's how we could get together.

Have you suggested any songs to Ryan for you to sing on the show?
Ryan loves us, but he still has that intimidating thing about him. I just saw him the other night and it still freaks me out, I feel like he's going to send me home or something. I haven't made any suggestions yet, hopefully I'll get to the point where I will, but right now I'm just like "Hey, hey Ryan. Hi. Please still love me!" He's already suggested writing me in as the indie rocker, which is good to be labeled that because when a good modern rock song comes up it's kind of up for grabs by me.

Why did you pick "Jolene" for your final performance?
I've sung that song in front of many people before. I like to play coffee shops for fun and it's one of my go-to ones. I remember being 12-years-old and seeing a video of Jack White sing "Jolene." I remember sitting there, totally forgetting that it's form the point of view of a woman, and I totally forget that it's a country song, I forget everything because Jack White's got me. I'm 12-years-old and I figure out what it means to be a musician because of that song. I just remember thinking if it hit me that hard at 12-years-old and I can't think about much anything, if I can hold a candle to the performance in front of Ryan, I knew it would be risky but I knew I'd be working with something.


First of all, congratulations on winning “The Glee Project!” How does it feel to know you’re going to be on “Glee?”
Growing up, people have dreams, and me personally, I have big dreams, but very few people get to live their dreams. But I’m one of those luck people, and I’m just on cloud nine, having the best time. I want it to continue, and I want to just keep getting better. Yes, I’ve won “The Glee Project,” but I hope it’s only the beginning. I’m under no illusions--the real work starts here. I’m going to relax this week, but once this week is over, it’s time to start work on “Glee.” It’s incredible.

So will you and Samuel start filming next week?
We haven’t actually heard anything yet. I’m going to take up a few acting lessons to get myself warmed up for when I get a script. We haven’t heard much at all. I think Ryan and the creators were waiting for it to be announced, so I think we’ll find out a little bit more. We’re meeting with Ryan later this week. We’re just so excited. I’ve won seven episodes on “Glee,” but I don’t want to be just a flash in a pan--I have big ambitions. I want to be a “Glee” legend. I want to have a full-time role on “Glee.” And then when it’s over, I want to be a recording artist; I want to sell millions of albums. I have huge dreams.

Take us back to the moment when you thought you had lost. You’re standing there next to Samuel, and Ryan Murphy just named Samuel as the winner. What was going through your head?
I’ve never had a feeling of disappointment like it in my life. I remember when Ryan was like, 'Alex, you're not the winner of The Glee Project' and then he said, 'Lindsay, you're not the winner of The Glee Project.' Sam and I looked at each other and were like, 'What the ----.' It was the most insane moment ever. But in my head, I was thinking that Samuel came so close to getting the role of Sam, played by Chord Overstreet, and I didn’t think Ryan was going to do it to him again. As we were standing there, and I didn’t hear a word. Ryan could have been speaking Italian to me and I wouldn’t have realized--I was in a stake of shock. When Ryan said Samuel was the winner, I can’t even explain the feeling of disappointment. I’m human, and my heart just sunk. It was so hard to take, but there was no question, Samuel deserved it. He’s such a great guy, and when Ryan asked me how I felt, I said, ‘Samuel deserves it. I’ve gained more than I’ve lost and thank you for the opportunity.’ And then when Ryan was like, ‘I don’t believe that and you don’t have to worry because you’ve also won,’ you saw my reaction--I flipped a lid! I nearly committed suicide! I almost hit my head on the piano! Seriously, it was the best moment of my life and I nearly committed suicide. It was so crazy!

All of your Celtic Thunder fans have been so supportive of your journey, but as we know, you’re resigning from the group. Is it a bittersweet feeling?
That’s exactly it. I had to wait to announce my resignation from Celtic Thunder until late last night, and it’s such a bittersweet feeling. Growing up with Celtic Thunder since the age of 14, the producer Sharon Browne and musical director Phil Coulter were like a mum and dad to me in this business. They’ve raised me. And the other guys in Celtic Thunder all took me under their wings. I was like their little brother. It’s funny because last night, Ian Brennan said that I was like an old man, and that’s because what I’ve done previously. When you tour the world at 14, it doesn’t let you be a kid. You have no choice but to grow up. It’s hard leaving that, but it was an incredible experience. Sharon told me something nice yesterday. She said, Damian, it’s as if you’re graduating from school and going on to university. It’s such a huge opportunity. It’s the biggest show in the world. It’s probably a million levels above Celtic Thunder, and that’s pretty scary. I’m just so grateful for Celtic Thunder. I’ll never forget it.

And your life is also changing too. You have to move thousands of miles away from home. Now that you have to find a place in Los Angeles, are those rumors of you and Cameron moving in together true?
That is so true. We’re going to be roommates! The guys at “Glee” are actually trying to set us up with an apartment at the moment. We’re going to be close to Paramount Studios because I don’t drive, and I can’t rent a car here because I’m only 18. It’s so ridiculous. So I’m just going to get a bicycle or something.

So “The Glee Project” winner needs a bicycle to get to work?
Exactly! That’s no joke. I wish I was kidding, but I’m not! So yeah, they’re trying to get an apartment for us, and we’ll plan up until around Christmas time--we’ll see what happens and how both of our careers are going. I don’t want to be a flash in a pan who only gets seven episodes. Obviously, I’m thrilled with seven episodes, of course, but when you get this chance, you don’t want to let it go. I want to grasp this with both hands, and I’m going to work hard.

You have an incredible group of fans, and you were leading the Fan Favorite poll for quite a while.
Once Cameron left, it was like people were coming up to me, saying, ‘Damian, we love you, but we think you’re going to win, so we’re going to vote for Cameron.’ It was crazy! I knew from day one. I remember when we were done filming the show and we were guessing who was going to win fan favorite, and I said, ‘I think Cameron will win.’ He really deserved it. He’s an incredible guy. From what he’s been through and the fans he has, he deserves something. And he won, fair and square.

In Cameron’s Fan Favorite video, you two share the spotlight and perform a Dameron duet. What was that like, working with your best friend on the show?
It was weird because the producers were telling me that I was going to win Fan Favorite because I was so far ahead and leading for so long. I kind of felt bad, and I asked Cameron, ‘No matter what happens, if I win or you win, do you want to share it?’ Because I was thinking, at the time it looked like I was going to wind, and I don’t want to do this by myself and take everything. So I was like, ‘Do you want to do it together?’ And he was like, yeah, sure. But it actually ended up that he won--It was crazy! It was a lot of fun watching that. I had a lot of fun doing it.

Well it seems like most Damian fans are Cameron fans and most Cameron fans are Damian fans, so it probably just made their worlds to see their two favorites sing a duet together.
That’s so true! It’s kind of weird that the two people who were at the top of the Fan Favorite poll were best friends. That wasn’t what we expected. But I think people related to us because 100 percent of the time, we were just real. We were never fake. Our personalities shone through, and we were just us. And I think people can relate to that more than anything else. It’s just so flattering.

Have you gotten a chance to really meet the “Glee” cast aside from the guest mentors?
We haven’t met them, no. Apparently, we’ve been told that you don’t meet them. You just go onto set without meeting them, so me and Samuel were like, wow.

So it will be like that awkward first day of school where you’re gazing over at the popular kids?
Yeah, that’s so true. I have a feeling that Ryan’s going to make me an Irish exchange student, and at the start, my character will be pretty lonely and vulnerable, so it may actually play true to real life. It’s going to be very interesting.

When Ian Brennan mentioned a potential story line with Brittany, I thought that sounded amazing! Could you see that happening?
I definitely feel like there is quite a bit of potential for my character on “Glee.” I think there are going to be quite a few comical moments at my expense. It’s going to be hilarious and a lot of fun.

If you could chose any of the leading ladies on “Glee” to have a romantic story line with, who would you chose?
Definitely Dianna Agron. That’s my girl. I don’t know. She’s just so gorgeous. And of course, she’s also incredible talented. She’s so pretty. But she has a boyfriend, so that may make things a little awkward, but I’m sure we’ll work it out.

It seemed like Darren Criss was one of your biggest fans on last night’s finale.
You know, I noticed that too! When Ryan is asking the cast who they want on the show, no one really mentioned me, so it made me look like the underdog. But that was all apart of his plan because when Ryan was talking to me, he told me everybody on the set of “Glee” wants you to win. That was the most mind-blowing thing ever. To hear that these professionals are not only following your journey, but they also like you as a person and want your talent on their show. To hear that is like nothing I’ve ever heard. And to see Darren Criss go crazy for me was incredible.

So that means you guys are going to be best friends, right?
I think we are. I was at the “Glee” show in Ireland, and I met Darren Criss that night. I was chatting with him for a while, and he was like, ‘Dude I can’t wait for you to come to L.A. so that we can hang out.’ So I think he’s going to be a really good friend, and he’s a really humble guy. He’s an example of what we want to be. Last year, he was nothing, and now he’s like the star of “Glee.”