Orson Welles. Robert Altman. Jhoan Camitz (a.k.a. That Guy Who Directed the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe”). And now Glee Project video director Erik White. Few have tried to execute the dreaded one-take virtuoso shot, and even fewer have succeeded. (“Wannabe” actually had two takes, proof that you can have too much zig-a-zig-ah.) This logistical nightmare, though, was an appropriate challenge during The Glee Project‘s Tenacity Week as Gleek hopefuls wheelbarrow-ed and double Dutch-ed their way through nearly three dozen takes to film a video for Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger.” Several contestants earned their stripes, but Ryan Murphy sent 24-year-old Abraham Lim packing after a post-performance plea that had a little too much bite. Below, Lim talks about his on-set injury, his competitors’ accusations responses, and keeping it in the Murphy family.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What were your immediate thoughts at hearing that this week’s theme was “Tenacity”?
ABRAHAM LIM: Mainly I was excited. If you watch promo videos from before the show and our first week in the house, I say it’s one of the three qualities my friends and I would use to describe me. After Theatricality [last week] when I was in the bottom three, that fire of determination was burning a lot brighter this week. So I was really excited because I felt like Tenacity is something I embody.
When you were told you’d have to shoot this week’s music video in a single shot, what did you think?
It didn’t scare me much. I was excited, but at the same time I don’t think I knew how intense it was really going to be. I didn’t know all the physical demands it would entail. You hear [you’re going to get] slushied, and you’re super-excited, and then when you get hit by one, you’re like, “Oh my God.” It was one of those moments.
Y’all did 34 takes, and things really started to get hairy when the double Dutch jump rope came into play. Talk about that.
Michael [Weisman, another competitor] and I have, believe it or not, never double Dutched before. [Laughs] We were given the two jump ropes and had 15 minutes to get it right. No one really taught us. Zach [Woodlee, the choreographer] didn’t know how to double Dutch either. I actually managed to get in to the jump ropes, then jump rope for a minute and come back out, but Michael’s line was before mine in the video so, if he messed up, we had to start all over again. It was definitely frustrating to have things change for us because we couldn’t do it.
Honestly, though, as horrific as that video was, at the same time I learned a lot from it. Zach would say, “Even if you mess up, you keep going. If you fall on the ground, you perform on the ground and let the jump ropes hit you and use it as an accessory.” That’s what’s Glee‘s all about and what, as performers, is so important for us to remember. I definitely learned a lot even though it was mildly embarrassing.
Ironically, your injury wasn’t from the jump rope scene. What exactly happened?
During Theatricality week, I had those ridiculous 3- or 4-inch boots, and I was dancing on the counter top, and I rolled one of my feet doing choreography. It wasn’t too bad, but it still hurt my foot, and it did affect my performance. [This week] going into the video shoot, as I was running out for the next part of the video, there was this metal ridge on the floor that I happened to trip over. I fell really, really hard. My back is in, like, a U-shape. Backs aren’t supposed to do that! And then I sprained my other ankle… but, I mean, injury or no injury, I really wanted to continue on. Amber [Riley, this week’s mentor] came in with stress fractures, so I wasn’t about to give up just because it was hurting. I hopped with one foot when it got too painful, and I tried to make it work the best that I could.
A lot of your competitors weren’t very sympathetic — even suggesting you might be playing it up. How did you feel about that?
I didn’t know that was happening at the time. Honestly, it was just one or two people. Everyone else knew that it was real. I had gone to the hospital during the week and gotten acupuncture and all of that. I will say this: I don’t like throwing people under the bus, but I have never been the type of competitor to feel the need to tear other people down in order to beat them. I’m fully confident in myself. I don’t want to beat somebody when they have laryngitis or when they have a broken kneecap. I want to beat you at your best because I know that I can. If people have to do that, it speaks volumes about their character or lack thereof, and it speaks volumes about their insecurities — not just as a performer, but as a person. I wasn’t raised like that, and I’ve never been that type of person, but if other people are, to each their own.
Going into callbacks, knowing you had been in the bottom three the week before, did you have a bad feeling about it?
I did have a little bit of a bad feeling. My heart dropped a little bit when I found out that I was in the bottom three again, especially because this was a week when I did not want to be there. Look, the video shoot wasn’t my best performance. I had a sprained ankle. It is what it is, and at that point, I was just like, “Give me my song. Let me go downstairs and practice.” As you can tell from when I heard I was in the bottom three, I wasn’t crying this time around. I just wasn’t very happy. I wasn’t trying to get brownie point for the fact that I had an injury, but I pretty much stuck it through the entire video without crying or whining about it — with a sprained ankle. In my opinion, that’s pretty tenacious. Watching the video back, too, a lot of people are, like, “You were really memorable.” I wasn’t thrilled, but what can you do?
In the video, you jumped double Dutch on one foot, and you delivered that speech to Ryan Murphy, pleading to be on the show. But it seems like maybe you passion backfired.
What people didn’t get to necessarily see was, I’ve always been the type of person who believes in humility. I believe in staying humble and taking feedback just as much, if not more than, the next person. Especially being 24, I understand the value of humility, more importantly not just in this industry but in life. But I was raised to stand up for what I believe in and not compromise my integrity or character. So when someone [doesn’t] comment on my performance — which is what I was there for — and instead asks me, “Why do people think you’re faking your injuries?” then you’re questioning my character and my integrity. When I first heard that, I went off stage and was, like, “It is what is.” But as I was waiting during Lily [Mae Harrington]’s performance, I couldn’t just sit there. I would have had a lot of regret if I were to go home on that note. So I went back up. It wasn’t calculated. I know some people think of it as a tirade, but, look, they didn’t have to bleep me out [like] other weeks. I was standing up for myself and who I am and what I believe in. I think it takes real respect, love, and admiration for someone, even in the face of possible elimination, that you could be open and honest with them. I think that‘s really tenacious — to go up to Ryan Murphy and tell him what’s on your mind. … I have no regrets whatsoever. I love and respect him so much that, even in the face of risk, I will be honest and open with him. He knows who I am, and he’s always valued those things about me, ever since day one. I was just there to remind him of that.
What’s coming up next for you? Any dream roles?
It’s fun because this industry’s always so uncertain, but people have definitely not seen the last of me. Whether it be music or acting, I would be open to doing anything. Obviously they’re not going to have me on Game of Thrones any time soon [laughs] or Mad Men, but I would love to do American Horror Story. I just flew through season 1 in three days. Mentally, it’s not the best place to be at 3 in the morning, but it’s so good. Ryan has a new show coming out called The New Normal, and I would love to do that. Honestly, I’m still very much set on being on Glee. But if other options come my way, I would love to do it. … It’s an exciting road because things are definitely looking up already.