Tyler Golden/Oxygen Media
August 15, 2012 at 03:08 PM EDT

If there was an underdog going into last night’s Glee Project finale, it was 19-year-old Blake Jenner. And he knew it, too. “I saw one of [the girls] winning,” he told EW this morning. But viewers couldn’t count out the Miami native, who impressed Ryan Murphy with his consistent performances and the fact that he was, as casting director Robert Ulrich said, “the best actor” in the group.

After a last-chance performance of “I’ll Be” — not to mention a surprise poem reading — a jubilant Jenner walked away with the seven-episode arc on the fourth season of the show. Jenner got on the phone with EW this morning to talk about his lack of sleep, why he read a poem, and what he hopes his Glee character gets to do next season (Watch out, Brittany/Santana shippers!)


BLAKE JENNER: I’m so excited, you have no idea. I’m so excited, and so thankful.

Did you sleep at all last night?

I didn’t sleep at all last night. I was talking to family and friends, both in L.A. and also in Miami, my hometown. I honestly got probably an hour and a half of sleep last night, but I’m still so stoked — I don’t even feel tired at all. The excitement is so unbelievable.

How does it feel to finally be able to tell everyone?

It’s amazing. I totally had to keep it under wraps, the whole completion of the show, for months. We finished filming in mid-March, so I’m really excited that everything is out in the open. So grateful, so thankful, so excited for the future.

Why did you decide to read the poem after your performance?

I decided to read the poem because when I was younger, like third [or] fourth grade, I started writing poems. It was a gateway for me, because I’ve always been that person that would be there with advice for friends, family and all that. I never expected that in return from anyone, so for me, the way to vent was through pen and paper. I just figured that was a way to show a different side of me, because Ryan and everyone were always saying they needed to see a different side of me, beyond just the nice-guy exterior. I figured it was my last chance to show what I hadn’t shown yet. I just wanted to show my poetic side.

On the show, other contestants put their stories front and center. It seemed like you just consistently performed and delivered week after week. Were you worried about not seeming vulnerable, and was the poem part of an adjusted strategy?

Of course. It was just weird because, I do consider myself vulnerable. The first week, I was very very sad, I cried in the bathroom before we heard who the bottom three was, because I wanted it so bad and I’d heard so many ‘nos’ before The Glee Project. I didn’t want to hear another no — it would have been heartbreaking. So throughout the competition when they were saying I was being too confident, too strong, I was just waiting for that moment when I was able to show my vulnerable side. That’s why I thought the poem worked for me — that was the most vulnerable I’d been on the show. That was the most I’d ever let anybody inside.

Right before they announced the winner, how were you feeling?

Watching the finale last night, that was the first time I’d seen my performance, or Ali and Aylin’s performance. I didn’t expect it at all. I saw one of them winning. I’m so grateful. I know I’ve said grateful and thankful so many times but that’s all I can say. In that moment, I did not think I was winning. I thought one of them had it for sure. They had such great storylines. You look at me, you don’t know what the story could be. I was just ready to look towards them, when they said, “and the winner is…” I was getting ready to turn to my left and hug one of them. When he said my name, I was shocked! I literally feel like there was so much excitement, I almost levitated. I don’t remember jumping that high. It was the most amazing experience of my life.

NEXT PAGE: Santana beware! Learn why Jenner is hoping his character romances Brittany

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