Make that two winners!
Samuel Larsen, 19, from Los Angeles, and Damian McGinty, 18, from Derry City, Northern Ireland, were both chosen by Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy to appear on seven-episode story arcs on the comedy, which heads into its third season this fall.
"I feel great!" Larsen says. "I was so happy Damian got to win as well. At this point we were just brothers. I knew when he won, too, it felt like I won twice. I love the guy, so it's nice to know I don't have to go into this crazy world alone."
Also learning he won a role during the April taping of the finale, "It was like I had just drunk 15 Red Bulls and 10 coffees," says McGinty. "I was bouncing off the walls. I don't think it's going to be a thing that will ever sink in. I feel really honored, I feel flattered. It's an incredible moment."
The talent was so good among the finalists that Alex Newell, 18, from Lynn, Mass., and Lindsay Pearce, 20, from Modesto, Calif., each got two-episode arcs on the show.
"The reason why the finalists got so far was that I saw something in them that made me want to write for them," says Murphy. "I love all those kids and I’m invested in them. I love their voices and their talent and I love them."
While Larsen was already based in L.A., six other Glee Project contestants have made the move to Hollywood to further their careers, including McGinty, whose family still lives in Ireland.
"I talked to my dad and he was in disbelief," says McGinty. "He was on the phone crying this morning and apparently media were lined up outside my house, cameras were in my house. In Ireland, a little town called Derry, this does not happen."
For Larsen, the second time was the charm – he had auditioned last year for the role of Sam Evans and didn't get the part, which ultimately went to Chord Overstreet.
"It did kind of feel like fate, having gone for Glee before and coming so close," Larsen says. "In that moment, I felt like I just blew it, I didn't get it, but it just made me hungrier. I remember the other night just talking to [casting director] Robert [Ulrich] and going, 'I'm so much happier getting this role than if I would have gotten Sam. This role is much more me.' "
Although producers hinted on The Glee Project that McGinty would fit in as a foreign exchange student and Larsen would work as an indie rocker, both newbies are taking acting lessons and preparing for the day they will be called to the set.
"We know nothing," McGinty admits. "For us now, it's a waiting game."
Additional reporting by SUSAN YOUNG