Glee Project's Alex Newell on Being a Drag (Not a Diva), and Facing 'Genuine Hate'

Alex Newell wants you to know he’s not a diva — and he doesn’t even think he played one during Season 1 of Oxygen’s The Glee Project. TVLine caught up with the big-voiced teenager to talk about making his drag debut in front of Glee creator Ryan Murphy (and a national TV audience), getting into a tiff with fellow contestant Matheus, and revealing a lot more personal info during the show’s run than he’d ever intended to share.

TVLINE | You definitely took some heat from the judges and some fans during the “Dance-ability” episode, where you essentially implied you wanted to let someone else win a challenge because you’d already won several times and because you were a superior dancer. Ryan Murphy even asked if you somehow thought you were better than your competitors. How did you feel watching that back on TV?
About that situation, I knew as soon as I said it that it was gonna be taken the wrong way, and it was gonna be blown completely out of proportion. I dunno, playing it back I was like, “Yeah, still blown out of proportion.” But like I told [Ryan], I don’t think I’m better than everybody. I just knew that my dancing was the strongest. Out of everyone, I had the best dancing, ’cause I’ve been working at dance all my life. So it was like, “What would it mean for me to win? Just let somebody else win.” I didn’t throw it. I still went for it in the challenge and gave it my all, but I guess generosity isn’t always a thing.

TVLINE | There was also a lot of time spent on a tiff between you and Matheus, where he told the judges that some of your comments — specifically about your ability to hit higher notes than him — made him feel hurt and upset. Were you surprised he went there?
It was always awkward. Watching the interaction, to this day, I didn’t say anything. I said nothing to [Matheus], and then when he told Ryan all the stuff I had supposedly said, I thought, you can go back and watch the extra footage, the footage they showed, I still didn’t say anything. It just didn’t add up to me, but I got over it. He’s apologized, and I’ve apologized for the things I had and hadn’t said.

TVLINE | Were you worried during filming that you might get the diva edit?
At first, I wasn’t worried about it. My friends at home know this diva thing is my whole act of being funny. Everybody laughs it off, and everybody gets it. And at the same time, I wasn’t a true diva. In the interview rooms, I’ve never spoken bad about anyone. I only spoke good things about them. I just feel that [the producers] were like, “Oh, well, he’s not being a diva, so we’ll make him look like a diva.” And I think it kind of backfired because people genuinely hate me.

TVLINE | How does that reaction affect you?
It’s hurtful, but at the same time, what can you do?

TVLINE | During one of your last-chance performances, Ryan and the judges made a casual comment about drag, and then next time you were in front of them, you came out in a dress, heels, and wig. Had you done drag before?
This was the first time I had ever done drag, and it was kind of hard. I was apprehensive toward doing it because my family was watching the show, and I didn’t know how they’d take it. But other than that it was pretty good.

TVLINE | When you made the decision to do drag, was it a spontaneous or had you been mulling the idea for a bit?
They offered me the idea of doing the whole thing in drag, and I thought, “Why not? What do I have to lose? Ryan wants to see it, so let’s put it on for him.”

TVLINE | You said you had some apprehension the first time you did it: Did the nerves go away once you began to sing?
I was nervous all the way through. Granted, it’s Ryan Murphy sitting in front of you. And you’re just like “What am I gonna do? What am I gonna do?” But other than that, it was all right, I was all right. Good times.

TVLINE | On two episodes, you talked about losing your dad at a young age, and you even wound up singing “His Eye Is on the Sparrow,” which had been played at his funeral. Did you go into the show thinking you’d be revealing so much about yourself and your personal life?
Talking about my father on the show, I never thought I’d have to go that far. But being gay and all that other stuff, I knew it was coming, because I was the only one on the show. I knew they were gonna shine some light on it. So to answer your question, yes and no. I knew some personal things were going to come out, but not the extent of everything.

TVLINE | In the season finale, the judges talked about how brave you were to perform in drag, and to take the journey you’d taken through the season. How was that for you to hear?
It was great. They understood what I was trying to portray, understood who I was and the people I represent, and understood what my goal was to be on Glee.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Juh says:

    maybe he gets genuine hate because he IS annoying?

    He’s like a real life Rachel without being funny. I’m definetely skipping his two episodes.

    • Ka'lel says:

      Agree… He’s totally annoying. Marissa should’ve won that spot…

      • Ka'lel says:

        Plus, I will skip his scenes on Glee.

      • Captain says:

        They should give Marissa a spot anyways. She’s awesome.

        • pria says:

          I know. Marissa’s elimination was the most unfair. All I cold think during the finale was “Alex and Linday get episodes but Marissa doesn’t?”. I mean, Lindsay can sing but her voice is a poor man’s Lea’s. Marissa otoh had a distinct, deep voice that no one on the cast has. She was always nice and professional and never annoying. I can’t let it go, she was so refreshing in that competition.

          • Eh says:

            Man, people really do like to overrate Marissa. But that usually happens when someone leaves early and you don’t see that they aren’t “all that”.

        • Russ says:

          While I do agree that Marissa was kinda unfairly voted out, while Alex and Damian got several shot at redemption. I think Hannah should get a spot over Marissa, Hannah was Glee, I was always rooting for her never having a moment of doubt that she would not be perfect for Glee.

    • Captain says:

      Agreed. I don’t think the guy deserves genuine hate because he never did anything to warrant genuine hate but he did irritate me. I try to keep in mind that it’s heavily edited and probably not the entire story but his attitude wasn’t something I wanted to root for. I kind of hope they don’t keep him beyond the two episodes but I really want them to keep Lindsay.

    • Jarbarian says:

      Alex is not annoying if you stop judging others lest ye be judged yourself. He is as talented (if not more so) than any of the other contestants. Yes, Marissa is also very talented, but so were at least 11 of them (Bryce was the least talented of them all, IMHO). So what if he is gay? Hate the sin, not the sinner. And as far as vocal talent goes, Alex is superior to anyone on TGP OR Glee, for that matter.

      Let the guy do his thing, let him attain his dreams without you insecure hypocrits bashing on him. Why on Earth would you take the time to bash other people when you yourselves aren’t perfect either.

      Alex IS a talent and Ryan was smart enough to let him do his thing. God bless Ryan for not succubming to the insecurities of the people sitting at home on their butts doing nothing to make it in this business.

      • Claudia says:

        Jeez! Glee is about underdogs, not about Drama Queens (i.e Alex)…

      • anne says:

        Why are you playing the gay card. Nobody cares about his sexual orientation. For me being able to hit high notes doesn’t make you an appealing singer necessarily, his voice is way too high for my taste. I like Amber Riley because she has a powerful voice but it’s still nice on the ears. Marissa may not be able to hit the high notes but she had the best tone out of all of them. She got a sucky song in her last chance performance. she got screwed after never being in the bottom before and winning that week’s challenge.

        I don’t like him saying “People genuinely hate me”. Like he wants pity or something? People don’t hate him, it’s a tv show, they just criticise how he represented himself while comparing with other contestants. The producers don’t put words in the contestants mouths, the editors work wth what they have, so. His behaviour tells me he shouldn’t be on Glee tbh.

        • FACTUALLY says:

          He’s gotten death threats on twitter and facebook! oh. but of-course he must just be pity seeking. :eye roll:

        • Yes, but says:

          Marissa’s song was the one she chose to audition with so if it was “sucky” then she just sabotaged herself. They gave her a song SHE originally chose.

      • Mara says:

        Who said anything about caring that Alex is gay?

        Being gay has nothing to do with acting unlikable.

        Also, I hope the sin/sinner thing was just a saying, and not literally intended to mean that being gay is a sin.

    • NowAnAlexFan says:

      No matter what the “reality show” made Alex look like (come on you know they create conflicts and such on purpose) and no matter what personality traits he may have for real (we can’t possibly know for real yet) that you may not enjoy in a personal friend of yours, you can’t deny that he is an unbelievably amazing and incredible performer. Alex Newell owns that stage and he comes alive on screen more than any other contender on the Glee Project did.

    • Syd says:

      Who cares how he looks how would u feel if people didn’t exept who u r and they were saying hurtful things to u and sending u death threats I think unique or Alex is my favorite character and remember this is a show about underdogs if your just watching the show just to make fun of it u don’t deserve to watch the show at all plus now really your the underdog not alex

  2. brandy says:

    There are some things that no matter how edited, they were still said. Alex was pretty annoying on the show. Not looking forward to seeing him on Glee.

  3. ddutchie88 says:

    I don’t hate him, I think he’s pretty cute. He was a little obnoxious in the beginning, but I thought he redeemded himself in later episodes. I know I’m pretty much alone in this, but I interpreted his behaviour as a scared little boy shouting as hard as he can to hide his insecurities.

    And let’s be honoust, the guy hás something to brag about. God what a voice he has :)

  4. whatwhatwhat says:

    I don’t know there is just something about Alex that annoys the crap out of me. I got a disliking vibe from him, and then he kept winning which only made it worse. I was extremely happy when Ryan told me that he had not won. He was the only person that I didn’t want on the show, I like/somewhat liked Lindsay, Damian, and Samuel. Then Ryan gave him that two episode spot…. seriously!

    Not happy about seeing him on glee.

  5. Alex says:

    This guy was more fake in real life than Lindsay’s edit. No matter how you edit him, he still said all those rude, annoying, arrogant things directly to the contestants.

    Even his defense of throwing the challenge he proves that nothing was taken the wrong way. “Out of everyone, I had the best dancing, ’cause I’ve been working at dance all my life. So it was like, “What would it mean for me to win? Just let somebody else win.”

    And his defense that “I didn’t say anything” to Matheus. My eyes are rolling in the deep. It’s right there on the tape!

    • Alex says:

      “And his defense that “I didn’t say anything” to Matheus. My eyes are rolling in the deep. It’s right there on the tape!”

      So what did he say then?

      I easily believe people don’t get him, just because you say something doesn’t mean your being malicious.

      • Jarbarian says:

        Bah, Matheus was the most annoying and HE (not Alex) challenged Alex, not the other way around. Even Marissa said “Be confident, not cocky” and she was 100% correct.

        Do you guys even pay attention to what is REALLY going on or are you just half-arsed watching what is going on?!


        • Alex says:


        • You know says:

          They are half-arsed watching. Some people are just led like sheep by the editing slant fed to them. Not saying Alex is the most awesome person in the world, but Matheus did bring on that situation by challenging Alex so he is no innocent victim.

      • AJ says:

        He is so annoying, and people don’t like him because he’s not nice, but he claims to be. I quote, ” I still didn’t say anything.” Yes, you did! Alex, admit it! You rolled your eyes, and looked all annoyed. ACTIONS speak LOUDER than WORDS. Instead of saying, “I am sooo much better than you” which he did, not in some many words, say several times throughout the course of the show, (ex: I am a better dancer than everyone) he rolled his eyes, meaning “I am so bored with you. You annoy me, because I am so much better than you.” What a jerk! He annoyed me the whole show, and made me cringe every time I saw him. I didn’t like Matheus either, but you don’t need to be a jerk. And people like to claim that we don’t like him because he’s gay. You can be gay and not be annoying. It’s not hate because he’s gay, it’s hate because he thinks he’s better than everyone, and can’t even admit it. This whole interview shows how arrogant he is-he’s not even nice during it. He reminds me of a five year old who can’t admit he stole cookies from the cookie jar. “I didn’t do it, I swear.” Just admit you weren’t very nice during the show, and try to change. But he won’t, and I’ll continue to strongly dislike him, and walk out of the room during his scenes in Glee. Or throw something at the TV. Maybe I’ll act like a child like he did.

        • And? says:

          What’s wrong with thinking your better than anyone. If technically he thinks he’s a better singer and/or dancer than them, why is that a problem – let alone offend you. Even Zach and Ryan said they thought he was (gave him the responsibility to teach the others.

          p.s. Matheus Started it, then gave him an ‘F U’ look. Anyone one would get bored of that.

          Sorry but your rant was pointless. Literally.

  6. Marcus says:

    This nobody really thinks people give a crap about him, lol.

    • JustBein'Observant says:

      A few things: I was always an Alex fan, but then again, I’ve only watched up to episode 5 of TGP. Secondly, can’t you read? Whether he was actively trying for this or not, his “diva-ness” and mixed fanlove/hate caused him to be more popular!! People obviously “give a crap about him”, as you so eloquently put it, as you can see reading above. I mentioned Rebecca Black and her sucky voice to my mother and she figures she was trying to be bad so she’d get more publicity than if she was just an okay singer. I don’t know how true that is (personally, I don’t think you can fake that awful a voice), but maybe the same thing is happening here. I don’t have a judgement on Alex yet, because I haven’t had the chance to truly see his talent. I can only hope everyone else like me who has yet to form an opinion will be unbiased for sexuality, past occurrences, his *edited and dramatized* appearence on TGP, etc. reasons, and make a call based on his TRUE talent shown on tonight’s episode of Glee.

  7. MDEP says:

    I think it is telling that he does not think he was a diva. People can act a certain way, and not realize it is off putting. To me, he just came off as very immature. Too bad it does not look like he learned anything from seeing his own behavior, but he is young and with time to grow. That being said, I am interested to see how he, and everyone else, does on Glee, and see how what we saw on The Glee Project translates into the actual show. Will I be able to get over how annoying he was and just enjoy the episodes?

  8. M. Slezak says:

    Wow, and here I thought I couldn’t hate this guy more than I already do. I was wrong.

    How arrogant and obnoxious can you get? I’ll be avoiding his screen time when he appears on the show. Thank goodness for fast forward buttons.

  9. troyenne says:

    I just find him boring…

  10. Joe says:

    I don’t know what is wrong with you people. Alex is insanely talented. Not just good. Great. His voice is amazing. After the finale I would have ranked Alex first, Lindsey second, Damien third and Samuel 4th. Alex is Glee. I guarantee you his 2 episode arc is going to spiral into something far larger than any of you are expecting. The mere idea of Kurt & Mercedes plucking this shy kid out from the halls and bringing this out of him & letting him know it’s okay to be himself & okay to dress up like a woman? I would love to write that arc. There is so much there to use. When he sings you stop breathing.
    My wife & I are huge Alex fans and I can’t wait to see him on Glee. I actually think the 2 co-winners are going to end up doing less on the show long term than the “losers” in Alex & Lindsey. I think Alex & Lindsey have the potential to take that show over in a few years.
    If you’re reading this Alex, know that you have fans. Work hard, be humble and let your talent shine. I can’t wait to see what the show has in store for you.

    • Mia says:

      Well said!! I totally agree with you!! I loved Alex and his amazing talent!! It’s a shame people “hate” him, when they are never shown the full story.

    • Yep says:

      I’m really not an Alex fan but I am glad to see people who appreciate TALENT over CUTE. So it’s funny (in a sad way) that the two most talented were not rewarded with the win. I don’t think the two winners are going to go on to do anything great though. They can have decent careers, but they aren’t standouts. They just aren’t that talented.

    • Noah says:

      Thank you! I absolutely agree with your response. Alex is very talented and I liked him! I thought he was clearly the best singer on the show and I was disappointed he did not win. Hopefully he will get extra episodes. What a voice!

  11. J says:

    I still like him more than Lindsay or Samuel.

  12. Alex Too says:



  13. Priscilla says:

    Alex isn’t talented. He belts, sure, but nothing original or different. Glee needs a tenor and they need someone a little more believably alternate lifestyle that Puck. Samuel and Damien were obvious. They could act believably and didn’t crack notes when they sang.

    Whereas Alex can only play diva. That’s it. Make him play straight and he probably wouldn’t do well. Make him sing sotto, and he probably couldn’t do that either.

    Same applies for Lindsey, except for the acting skills. She was great at acting and had an amazing “theatre” voice. Not necessarily something that can sing pop or rock very well, but good for the Broadway things. Sadly, Lea and Tina can handle those. She just wasn’t right for the part wanted.

    • Alex is a Tenor says:

      Alex is a tenor, he reaches high notes in full voice not falsetto.

      His eye is on the sparrow
      I will always love you (the first half)
      True colors

      Are all not belted. You can’t play straight. Where as, yes, he could be less diva/flamboyant if he’s asked to.

  14. Lourdes21 says:

    LOL I like how he thinks he was the best dancer. Yeah, obese people always move their body better and create better lines. Let’s face it, he didn’t put effort into practice because he’s lazy and delusional about his dancing, not because he wanted someone else to win. Please.

  15. Jo says:

    They u ain’t a true GLEEk

  16. Mara says:

    Wow. He’s annoying in ‘genuine’ real life interviews too.

  17. corey says:

    I find it hard to believe it was his first time to do drag. He wad too good at it and he ended up doing it 3 times.

  18. Amy says:

    If you don’t want to have people judge you, don’t go on a reality TV show. Simple as that.

  19. Travis says:

    Ugh, so not looking forward to seeing him on glee. He is an annoying asshole. Just because some people like his voice (it’s too high and squeaky for me) doesn’t mean he has the right to think he is better than anyone. I think Ryan was a wimp in the finale and instead of making an actual decision on who would win just said “They ALL win”. Hopefully the ratings will convince him to not make this mistake in season two of the glee project.

  20. Jen says:

    I LOVED Alex even with all the “diva edits.” Seriously people, can’t you tell when the producers and editors edit things in such a way to MAKE people LOOK a certain way to add more drama to a show where everyone is being nice to each other and supportive of each other? Nice is boring for TV. Any tiny bit of conflict or misunderstanding is going to be amplified or even misrepresented by the editing in order to make the show more interesting than just a bunch of people being nice to each other in an audition process.

    Alex BLEW ME AWAY with his acting, dancing, star-quality performing, and his absolutely incredible voice and vocal technique. He IS A STAR! I can’t wait for his episodes and I hope they write more for him as well.

  21. Trinity says:

    Alex is talented. More talented than any other person that was on The Glee Project. Stop saying ‘I’m gonna skip his part when I see him.’. That’s just ignorant. He’s going to be ACTING! I hate Charlie Sheen but I love his character (too bad he’s off the show though…). He has pride and has the talent to back it up. He didn’t say anything to Matheus. He rolled his eyes because MATHEUS challenged him. The dancing thing was a bit cocky but who cares? Everyone likes to be cocky? He’s only human. He’s not perfect, but no one is. He doesn’t deserve hate. No one does unless they commit a horrible crime (Murder, rape, ect). Just stop hating.

  22. Syd says:

    Really everybody’s different how would u feel if people didn’t exepct