01/05/2011 10:03 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Casting The Glee Project : More 'Homeroom' Than 'Hollywood'

I am a casting director. I am a casting director. I am a casting director. I can say that all day long, but it has been my experience that most people don't know what that really means. The only real insight the general public has to the auditioning process is through reality television, which can be very entertaining and often humorous. But, in fact, a casting director is a nuanced and complex position. Having been a casting director in scripted television for more than 20 years, I know how unbelievably hard it is to find that "it" factor, but knowing how truly amazing it feels when you do makes it all worth it in the end.

Having cast Fox's popular series Glee, I couldn't be any more excited to help cast Oxygen's new upcoming series The Glee Project, where performers will be chosen to compete for a multi-episode guest-starring role on season three of Glee. For this project, we've set out to accomplish something very specific and will openly and honestly showcase the casting process, blemishes and all, for one of the most popular franchises on television.

The nature of Glee enhances the casting process by celebrating diversity, disabilities and the breaking down of boundaries. This is a show that truly represents the timelessness of high school, not Hollywood.

I was recently walking through the halls of my son's high school, which reinforced the notion that the basic high school dynamics still exist in the very same ways as they did when I went to school. Same jealousies, same crushes. Same truths and misconceptions. High school is an intergenerational experience. A true rite of passage.

Thus far, The Glee Project has provided me with an opportunity to see an incredible array of young talent that I'd never have the opportunity to see under typical casting circumstances. In December, we held our first open casting call in Chicago, and despite the below freezing temperatures, the turnout was amazing. Thousands came from as far as Singapore to display their talent, all for a chance to realize their dreams and do what they love -- perform. We're holding our second open casting call in Dallas this weekend, and we can only hope that the talent level compares to Chicago.

Even though this is ultimately a competition, we want this process to be about acceptance and fun, just like the show. And while singing, acting and dancing are certainly essential to landing a role on Glee, it is the celebration of individuality that perhaps matters most.

The Glee Project will air on Oxygen in June 2011.

Robert Ulrich is a casting director based in Los Angeles. Robert Ulrich's company Ulrich/Dawson/Kritzer Casting has worked with a staggering array of producers over 21 years in the business including: Francis Ford Coppola, Jerry Bruckheimer, James Cameron, Ron Howard, Wolfgang Peterson, Anne Rice, Steven Bochco, Aaron Spelling, Gail Berman, Joel Surnow, Jodie Foster and Ryan Murphy. For Glee they have been nominated for an Emmy for Best Television Comedy Series and for a Casting Society of America (CSA) award for Best Television Comedy Series. They have also won a CSA award for Best Comedy Television Pilot, and a Media Access Award for Casting Actors with Disabilities.