Featuring real-life kids who represented the kind of outsiders Glee loves to spotlight, the first season of The Glee Project was both a ratings hit and critical success for Oxygen. In the show’s second season—debuting this summer—at least two members of the LGBT community will be represented.
Out performer Dani Shay (the Bieber lookalike with the beige jacket) is no newcomer to reality competitions: She made it to the final rounds of America’s Got Talent last year. Tyler Ford (in photo at bottom left) is a biracial, Jewish and transgender 21-year old from Florida who won a spot on TGP at an open call in Nashville. Ford has a knack for musical instruments (including the ukulele) and cites Lady Gaga, Sara Bareilles and lesbian singer-songwriter Sia as inspirations. (He’s even got a Bareilles tattoo.)
Other Glee Project contestants include Ali, who’s been paralyzed from the chest down since age 2; Mario, who is legally blind; and Charlie, who suffers from ADHD and low-spectral autism. Call it stunt casting but these talented kids wouldn’t get an opportunity to be on American Idol or The X Factor. (Or they’d be saddled with some tragic storyline to create drama.)
Also popping up in Season 2 is Lea Michele, who will appear as a guest mentor on the show, which has extended from 12 contenders to 14.
Below, catch an interview with Tyler, where he discusses the big change from singing for friends and family to being a part of a big professional production.