Graduates of the “Glee Project” claim that the show “manipulated” them: “It was very traumatic”


Behind—the-scenes secrets-and some bad memories. The actors of The Glee Project spoke in detail about their experience of participating in a reality show, and not all of them were happy.

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Damian McGinty, Samuel Larsen, Lindsey Pierce, Ali Stroker and other Oxygen series alumni recalled their time on the short-lived show in a new oral history published by Insider on Monday, August 22. McGinty, 29, described his time on The Glee Project as “one of the funniest things” he would do in his life, but not all of his co-stars on the set had such fond memories.

Pearce, 31, said one of her most negative experiences on the series, which lasted just two seasons and aired from 2011 to 2012, occurred during an episode when she was encouraged to express vulnerability.

“They sat us down and, in fact, asked us to tell them our deepest and darkest secrets,” the Broadway actress recalled. “I told about my sexual abuse. I said something like, “After going through this, I felt like I wasn’t human — like I was just a body and a beautiful face.”

However, according to Pierce, the producers removed the story of the attack from the episode. “The shorthand is that I say people like me because I’m beautiful, and it makes me feel fake,” the California native explained. “It was excruciating because I wouldn’t have shared my experience if I knew how it would be edited. It didn’t fit the narrative they were trying to create.”

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The former Wicked star also spoke in detail about the incident when she and co-star Cameron Mitchell kissed during the filming of a music video. The 32-year-old Texas native said he was “blinded” by the moment, which he and Pierce claimed was rigged by the producers.

“I wish I had the language we use today, in terms of consent and awareness and respect for people’s boundaries,” Pierce said. “I will always be responsible for my own side of things, but I was 19 years old and I was manipulated.”

After being asked to kiss another contestant in another episode, Mitchell decided to leave the show. “It really was one of those moments that changed the course of my life. I was forced to stand up for myself,” he recalled. “It was very traumatic.”

Pierce finished the first season in second place with Alex Newell, and they both received guest spots in Glee. However, because of the kiss with Mitchell, Pierce faced a negative reaction from viewers who considered her behavior predatory.

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“I’ve never been so hated in my life,” said the Recovery Road graduate. “It’s not easy for a 20-year—old guy to be called a sexual rapist, a sexual predator, a rapist – and all because of a kiss in a music video. Eleven years later, I still get hate mail to the movie theaters where I work and personal messages telling me to kill myself.”

Mitchell, for his part, noted that he did not blame Pierce for the kiss, which he feared would interfere with his off-screen relationship with his then-girlfriend. “I was very upset and felt like I was being used—obviously not by Lindsay,” he explained. “After that, I made it clear to everyone that it’s not cool, and that I have a girlfriend at home.”

Shauna Minoprio, executive producer of The Glee Project, admitted: “There are probably things in this series that we would do differently now — inevitably.” Oxygen, meanwhile, declined to comment on Insider’s oral history, and Glee creator Ryan Murphy declined to be interviewed for his story.


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