One of the best new reality shows from last year, The Glee Project, is returning for a second season this summer. The series, which grants the winner of an arc on Glee, saw two victors from last year, Samuel Larsen and Damian McGinty, who both have since appeared on the Fox hit. Once again, Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy will evaluate the contestants along with the series casting director Robert Ulrich and choreographer/co-producer Zach Woodlee. Plus, vocal coach Nikki Anders will now officially join the judging panel.
This year, a new crop of singer/actor hopefuls are headed to the Oxygen series and EW has the EXCLUSIVE cast reveal. The Glee Project‘s inspiring 14 contestants includes a 24-year-old paralyzed from the waist down, a transgender 21-year-old, and another 24-year-old who’s been blind since the age of 9. Meet the rest of the hopefuls after the jump…
Hometown: Orlando, Fla.Dani has been performing since she completed her very first talent competition in fifth grade and won second place. At age 16, after attending a theatre magnet program in high school, she started teaching herself how to play the guitar and write original songs, and has since written and independently released four albums and two singles. Dani made it on to the Top 48 of America’s Got Talent season six last year (2011), and gained a devoted following of online fans from doing so. She loves to mix up her acts with bits of comedy, rap, and audience participation. With such an independent attitude, Dani has expressed that she would want to play an androgynous female who bravely walks away from her Mormon upbringing if she ever got the opportunity to be on Glee. Dani originally auditioned for The Glee Project at the Nashville open casting call.
Hometown: Tacoma, Wash.
Nellie has been performing for eight years and is a vocalist for a local swing band – the youngest member by 20 years. Aside from singing, she also plays piano and guitar, and she writes her own original songs. She works as a barista and her favorite performance space is in a small, cozy coffee shop. Nellie has a strong love for the arts, especially photography, and can often be seen at photo shoots on her weekends off. Nellie was discovered for The Glee Project through an online video submission.
Aylin has been an active singer for the past 10 years. She started the first female a cappella group at Loyola Academy, and is now currently a student at Roosevelt University majoring in vocal jazz performance at their music conservatory. Aylin comes from a very traditional Turkish family and, being Muslim, she has had trouble balancing who she is with who her family expects her to be. She constantly pushes those cultural boundaries in her life and music. Aylin originally auditioned for The Glee Project at the Chicago open casting call.
NEXT: Four more girls
Hometown: New York City
Ali has been a New York City actress and singer for more than three quarters of her life. She is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, concentration in drama. Ali is paralyzed from the chest down, and has used a wheelchair since she was two-years-old. She strives to inspire other people with disabilities who want to pursue a career in performance to follow their dreams. Ali originally auditioned for The Glee Project at the New York City open casting call.
Hometown: Cape Cod, Mass.
Lily Mae comes from a very musical family. She has been singing all her life and involved with musical theatre for the past six years. Despite her lack of class attendance, Lily Mae was highly involved in extracurricular activities in high school. She is currently enrolled as a student at the Westminster Choir College. Even though she has performed for over 2,500 people at the Symphony Hall in Boston, Lily Mae still finds it challenging to convince people that as a full-figured woman, she can be any shows leading lady. Lily Mae originally auditioned for The Glee Project online and at the New York City open casting call.
Hometown: Auburn, Ala.
Shanna has been involved in the music scene for 17 years. She is an experienced tuba and trombone player, and has recently recovered from a vocal fold surgery. Determined to break free of the stereotypes surrounding her in high school, Shanna became involved in sports such as swimming, softball and basketball and also made time for show choir, band, color guard, beta club and Spanish club. She is currently a student at Auburn University. Shanna originally auditioned for The Glee Project online and at the Nashville open casting call.
Taryn has been performing for over 12 years, but prior to her audition for The Glee Project, she had never performed live for a casting panel. Also new to the traveling world, Taryn had never traveled on an airplane until her trip to Los Angeles for her audition. She is a trained aerialist who also enjoys hobbies such as cooking and painting. Taryn was discovered for The Glee Project through an online video submission.
NEXT: Meet the boys
Hometown: Boca Raton, Fla.
Tyler has an ear for music. He has been performing for 11 years, and is passionate about picking up and learning to play different instruments like the ukulele, for one. Tyler is very independent in his lifestyle and ambitions. When he was 18 months old he taught himself how to read by sleeping with maps and the TV guide in his crib. Currently he is a student at Vanderbilt University. Tyler is half black, half white, Jewish and transgender. He uses Lady Gaga as a constant inspiration in his music. Tyler originally auditioned for The Glee Project at the Nashville open casting call.
Although he is the youngest of all The Glee Project season two contenders, Michael does not lack in experience. He has been performing for over eight years and is already a member of a professional blues band. Michael was a Paul Green School of Rock Chicago All Star, has performed at the House of Blues in Chicago and has already traveled half way around the world to perform in Tokyo. Aside from his love of music, he has a passion for calculus and thinks it is a fantastic subject of study and thoroughly enjoys spending time in the kitchen. Michael was discovered through industry channels to audition for The Glee Project.
Maxfield is a country singer/songwriter who is new to the stage since finding his voice last summer. In high school he was the stereotypical jock who played Varsity football. Now a student at Full Sail University, he has learned to overcome his past mistakes. To symbolize this, Maxfield wears a “promise ring” every day to remind himself of where he has been and to treat women with the same respect he desires to one day treat his wife. His motivation for competing on The Glee Project is to win the respect of a girl he loved and lost. Maxfield originally auditioned for The Glee Project at the Nashville open casting call.
Hometown: Lanham, Md.
Mario (Arnauz), a singer/song writer, has been performing in school concerts, gospel and chamber choirs, and at Washington D.C. area churches for nine years. He was born with Morning Glory Syndrome, which ultimately caused him to go totally blind at the age of nine. Despite his disability, he can also dance, act, and play the piano, guitar and drums. When Mario, a triplet, was an infant, his mother passed away. With his father out of the picture, his grandmother took him and his siblings in. Mario attended several different schools, due to moving around a lot, and at each school he attended he did everything he could to assimilate with sighted students. He believes music has healing powers, and his love for the performing arts sustained him through the tough times. Mario does motivational speaking, comedy, impersonations and is a voice-over artist. He dreams of publishing his autobiography and landing a recording contract. Mario originally auditioned for The Glee Project online and at the New York City open casting call.
NEXT: Three more guys round out the pack
Blake recently moved to Los Angeles from Florida. He drums and juggles, but his passion is acting. Blake has studied acting and improvisation since he was a child. Upon arriving in L.A., he worked a few odd jobs in his pursuit of becoming a professional actor. He loves to sing, but has never had a lesson. When he is not performing, Blake works as a parrot salesman. He has received some rejection during his time in Los Angeles, but continues to forge ahead because of the love he has for his craft. Blake was discovered through industry channels to audition for The Glee Project.
Charlie is an actor and a singer. He has been performing for 15 years and earned his BFA in acting from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He once performed in an alley in Vienna, Austria, which was part of his senior year choir tour through Europe. Charlie is a person with severe ADHD and low-spectral autism. Although life has often been a social struggle for him, he feels that he would not be where he is today without the support of his “team of superheroes” – the friends and family that constantly provide love and encouragement. Charlie originally auditioned for The Glee Project at the New York City open casting call.
Hometown: Queens, N.Y./San Diego
Abraham, a true newbie to the performance world, indefinitely postponed his admission into law school to pursue his dreams of taking on the entertainment industry by storm. Oftentimes, he finds himself relating better to women and believes that it is due to the absence of a father-figure in his life. When not performing, Abraham works as a legal aid and a bartender in San Diego. Although he has only been performing for a year, his most rewarding performance was on the streets of San Diego when he played for homeless people. With lots of hard work, determination, and a bit of sass, Abraham was discovered for The Glee Project through an online video submission.
Follow Tim on Twitter: @EWTimStack