‘The Glee Project’ Alums Detail ‘Traumatic’ Experience on the Show

Samuel Larsen and Ali Stroker
Matt Baron/Shutterstock; Andy Kropa/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Behind-the-scenes secrets — and some bad memories. The cast of The Glee Project detailed their experiences on the reality competition, and they weren’t all happy.

Damian McGinty, Samuel Larsen, Lindsay Pearce, Ali StrokerMore Oxygen alumni recalled their time on the show in a new oral story published by InsiderMonday, August 22, 2002. McGinty (29), described his time at the on The Glee Project as “one of the most fun things” he’ll do in his life, but his fellow castmates didn’t all have such fond recollections.

Pearce, 31, said that one of her most negative experiences on the show — which lasted only two seasons that aired from 2011 to 2012— came during an episode when she was encouraged to express vulnerability.

“They sat us down and essentially asked us to tell them our deepest, darkest secrets,” the Broadway actress recalled. “I shared about my sexual assault. I said something like, ‘Going through that made me feel like I wasn’t a person — like I was just a body and a nice face.’”

Pearce says that producers removed the story on the assault from the episode. “The cut is me saying people like me because I’m pretty, which makes me feel fake,” the California native explained. “That was gut-wrenching, because I wouldn’t have shared my experience if I knew how it’d be edited. It didn’t fit the narrative that they were trying to make.”

The former WickedStar also shared an incident that costar and she were involved in. Cameron MitchellDuring a music video shoot, they shared a kiss. The Texas native, 32, claimed that he was “blindsided” by the moment, which he and Pearce alleged was set up by producers.

“I wish I had the language that we have today surrounding consent and awareness and respecting people’s boundaries,” Pearce said. “I will always take accountability for my own side of things, but I was 19 and being manipulated.”

Mitchell resigned after being asked to kiss another contestant in an episode. “It truly was one of those moments that altered the course of my life. I was forced to stand up for myself,” he recalled. “It was very traumatic.”

Pearce finished season 1 as Alex Newell’s runner-up, and both earned guest spots on Glee. Pearce received backlash from viewers who felt her predatory behavior because of her kiss with Mitchell.

“I’ve never been so hated in my life,” the Recovery RoadAn alum stated. “It’s not easy for a 20-year-old to be called a sexual assailant, a sexual predator, an abuser — all because of the music-video kiss. Eleven years later, I still get hate mail sent to the theaters I work at and DMs telling me to kill myself.”

Mitchell, for his part, noted that he doesn’t blame Pearce for the kiss, which he worried would interfere with his off-camera relationship with his then-girlfriend. “I was very upset and felt taken advantage of — not by Lindsay, obviously,” he explained. “After, I made it clear to everybody that it wasn’t cool and that I had a girlfriend back home.”

Shauna MinoprioWho was the executive producer The Glee Project, admitted, “There’s probably stuff in that show we would do differently now — inevitably.” Oxygen, meanwhile, declined to comment for Insider‘s oral history, and GleeCreator Ryan MurphyThey declined to be interviewed.

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