'The Glee Project' Exit Q&A: Dani Shay
Week two of The Glee Project started off with a twist. [SPOILER ALERT!] Early in the program, Taryn chose to leave the competition. But she wasn’t the only elimination during last night’s movement-based episode, “Dance-ability.” Dani Shay, a 23-year-old Florida native, was the second contestant to be sent packing. Shay spoke to EW and shed some light on Taryn’s shocking departure: “Taryn and I were pretty close that first week. We were both kind of raised in the hood, so we bonded over that. We sang together at night. I knew she was having a hard time adjusting — [being on this show] is a huge adjustment to make.”
Shay also talked to EW on dancing to LMFAO without any training, conflicting advice from the judges and Lea Michele, and what is next for her.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How are you doing? Did you watch the episode last night?
DANI SHAY: Yes, I did. I was actually just re-watching it because I was Tweeting and Facebooking during the show, so now I’m watching it with all my attention. I watched it with my dad and my step mom — it was good. They’re really proud of me and all I’ve accomplished. I don’t feel anything negative about what happened. It was a huge, huge learning experience for me.
You’ve done the whole reality thing before with America’s Got Talent. How did you come to audition for Glee Project?
Well, I discovered The Glee Project season 1 while I was on America’s Got Talent. And I was like, ‘Whoa! This is a really cool show. I would love to do something like that.’ Just a couple of weeks later I saw they were doing auditions, so I submitted a video online and also drove to Nashville and auditioned in person. And I got to sing for Robert that day and everything.
You said on the show last night you’ve had no formal dance training. What did you think when you heard it was dance week?
My first reaction was, “Oh crap. This is going to be interesting.” I definitely got up into my head about it, like, ‘Oh God. What am I going to do?’ But I tried to have fun with it.
Zach was kind of dismissive of your mini-group’s dance during the video shoot. What was your rehearsal like after you and Nellie were done practicing with Zach?
We rehearsed a lot by ourselves and then we came together and did a couple of group rehearsals with it. We really rehearsed that dance a LOT, so it was surprising to both of us, both Nellie and I, that we weren’t able to get it together come shoot day. I had a feeling that I was going to be in the bottom three after that video shoot. I could just feel that I wasn’t really there, fully.
Later in the episode, the judges said you had a problem playing a character — do you agree with that?
I was taking on the advice that Lea Michele had given me the week prior, where she said just be more yourself. Because I felt like I was trying to be very pop-ish, musical theater, because that’s the feel of that show. And so when [Michele] said that, I thought, “Okay.” Going into the next week, my mind frame was “I’m going to be my chill, relaxed self,” because honestly, that is how I would be at a party. At a high school party, I was always the one kind of chillin’, watching everybody. I’m a people watcher, that’s my vibe. So when [the judges] said that about not being a character, I felt like I was making a character choice.
Once you found out you were in the bottom three and would be performing “Landslide,” you got very emotional. What was going through your mind?
Yeah, I was really emotional. I felt like I was taking each thing piece by piece, like “Okay, I can do this.” And then I sit down in front of those mirrors and start listening to [the song]. The music for that song is so beautiful, and then I start reading the lyrics, and I realized they’re perfect for me. They’re exactly what I felt in that moment. And having a realization like that, that’s why I started crying. It was all so appropriate. I felt like moments from my life were flashing before my eyes, not like I was dying, but I felt memories and all these things that led me to the moment where I was wrapped up in that song. It was very emotional.
Justin Bieber — how sick are you of the comparisons?
It gets old. Especially knowing I didn’t cut my hair to go out and be a Justin Bieber look-alike. So to always be called a Justin Bieber look-alike can be a little frustrating when it comes down to me wanting to be a performer with my own name and my own vibe and image. We’re so different. But at the same time, I can see the huge benefits. It makes people go, “Oooh. It’s a Justin Bieber look-alike.” But then they pull back a layer, if they’re willing, they peel back a layer and go, “Oh wait. She’s a little bit different. She sings her own music.” And then they peel back another layer and realize there is so much more to it, and this isn’t something I put into my plan. This isn’t something I wanted to happen, it just did. And I’m dealing with it every single day.
So what’s next for you?
Well, I’m moving to New York and I’m going to be building my band. I’ve got a huge show coming up in Orlando, my hometown, for my birthday bash/homecoming next Friday. I’m very excited about that. I’ve got some new songs and new music videos in the works. [You can check it all out at DaniShay.com] I’m just going to continue exploring myself and my music as an artist. I’ve got a lot of things [going on]. You have not heard the last of me.
Jane Lynch, Lea Michele, and high school anxiety star in Fox’s campy musical.