Credit: Andrew Eccles/Oxygen Media

Glee loves a good tribute episode (in fact, in the fall, they’ll be devoting another hour to Britney Spears). So it was no surprise that for Theatricality week on The Glee Project last night, the contestants all got a different musical icon to portray, and 20-year-old Nellie Veitenheimer got tasked with playing the not-so-innocent pop star.

Unfortunately, Theatricality week also meant the end of the road for Veitenheimer, who the judges often called out for her struggle to “pop” on camera and keep her energy up. Veitenheimer got on the phone with EW to talk Britney Spears, her confidence level, and why she’s a huge (somewhat secret) Gleek.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Last night’s episode was Theatricality. What was going through your mind when you found out you’d be portraying Britney Spears?

NELLIE VEITENHEIMER: Well, as you can see from watching the show, I about fell out of my chair. Because initially all I could think of was the really, really out-there outfits and the newer Britney Spears. I got really frustrated. But once I saw the outfit [from the “Baby, One More Time” era], I got pretty excited and she wound up being really fun to portray.

Take me through the process of doing that video shoot [and check out the finished number].

It was so fun. It was a night shoot, and I’m always up late. It was really fun just to be there at night already, and being Britney was really fun. It let me be a little more sassy and take the choreography to a different level.

Throughout the show, you kept getting a note about keeping your energy high and your confidence up. Rewatching the show, did you agree with that criticism or just feel you were being yourself?

It’s a little of both. Watching the show back, I do look almost apathetic for parts of it, like I don’t have as much interest. At the same time, it’s kind of just the way I function. Even when I have something really exciting happening, I’m really chill about it and don’t really show my emotions on my face. And I think that was part of their critique ‘She doesn’t have as much passion for this’ because I wasn’t always voicing my excitement or frustrations or anything really.

Last night, after your last-chance performance, you talked about how you were almost afraid to admit to yourself how much you wanted to be on Glee.

I was, honestly. It ended up being kind of a silly defense mechanism. Could things have been different if I’d just expressed how much I wanted it? Who knows? But definitely I wasn’t willing to admit how much I wanted it until the moment I looked at the callback list.

And why did you want it so much — what do you like about Glee?

I have been a fan of Glee since the beginning. And that’s a fact. I’m one of the people that doesn’t necessarily brag about how much they love Glee, but secretly is watching every single week sobbing on my couch. I don’t know why that show connects with me so much; even though a lot of the stories they have are very out there, they still find a way to make everything relatable. [Some of my favorite plots include]Puck’s most recent storyline. It was really amazing to see him break down with Beiste and the moments of vulnerability. I loved when Cory Montieth’s character was struggling with where to go to college and feeling like he wasn’t good enough to focus on anything, because I felt that exact same thing.

What’s next for you?

I moved to L.A. officially! I’m living on [fellow contestants] Abraham and Tyler’s couch. So I’m just ready to put my feelers out there for music and for acting. I will always be making music, that’s just something that is always going to be happening, but at this point in my life especially, I want to audition for acting gigs and work on that. Even with the focus on the show being on my voice, I really do love to get a script and act.

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