For a young actress slash singer, scoring a part on Glee is living the dream. Melissa Benoist was going from audition to audition when she landed the role of Marley Rose, a McKinley High transfer student who’s dubbed “The New Rachel” (literally—that was the title of fourth season’s premiere episode). The day that Melissa found out she got the coveted role, she started rehearsals for the hit show.
Marley comes from a low-income family and faces ridicule from her classmates, who tease her because her mother works in the school cafeteria and is overweight. But she finds comfort in the Glee club, and quickly goes from wallflower to class heartthrob when she lands the role of Sandy in the school production of Grease. She also finds herself in a love triangle with bad boy Jake Puckerman (Jacob Artist) and football player Ryder Lynn (Blake Jenner). As Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) and her classmates enter the college years and take on more peripheral roles on the show, Marley is holding down the fort in the choir room. We spoke to Melissa, who prior to Glee had only done one-off roles in television series such as Law & Order, about how she landed her big break.
What was your audition process like?
“I first auditioned in New York at the Roundabout Theatre Company, and then went through five auditions all with different songs. I sang a Regina Spektor song, ‘Fidelity,’ a couple of musical theatre songs, and the last songs I performed were ‘King of Anything’ by Sara Bareilles and a Colbie Caillat song. I love female singer-songwriters! And then I had two screen tests in California for [creator] Ryan Murphy and his team, and I haven’t been back to New York since I got the job. I started working the day I found out that I got the part. The producers had been looking for Marley for a really long time, and then when it happened, they threw me into wardrobe fittings and dance rehearsals.”
Were you a fan of Glee before you got cast?
“Oh yeah! I’d watch it with my best friend.”
How did it feel to step onto set and not only meet the actors, but also their characters?
“Everyone is so nice, welcoming, and fun to be around. I was in the choir room and it was definitely surreal to see Kevin McHale rolling around in a wheelchair, and then all of the sudden when they yell cut, standing up.”
You’re a key part of this new Glee freshman class. Did you feel comfortable stepping into this role?
“It was definitely a transition, and I felt a lot of pressure at first to fill this role in the choir room that was missing because of all of the people that graduated on the show. But it’s this new, fresh energy, and it feels like a different show.”
How do you personally relate to your character?
“I was such a wallflower in high school. I did a lot of extracurricular theatre shows, but at school, I spent a lot of time by myself. I ate lunch by myself, and I was always okay with it. But I was definitely made fun of and I always felt like an outsider. And Marley experiences that. She’s in the process of figuring out who she is and blossoming, and doesn’t know how to express herself fully—both with words and with music. That’s really what I find beautiful about her. But I definitely have a very huge shy streak just like her. I also come from a single-parent family. I’m very close with my mom and can completely relate to that. She has an incredibly amount of strength and she just doesn’t know how to use it yet.”
What about her style? Do you dress like Marley?
“I never used to wear hats. I never ever thought that I could pull them off, so in daily life, I don’t really wear them, but I love Marley’s wardrobe. Sometimes it’s really apparent that she’s picking through bins at the Goodwill.”
What’s your favorite song that you’ve performed on the show so far?
“‘Blow Me One Last Kiss’ by Pink. There was energy on set that day that was amazing. It was such a moment for Marley to have so much moxie and gumption, and Alex Newell and I let loose and rocked out. He’s such a good singer and I fed off of his energy.”
If you got to choose a song to perform on the show, what would you pick?
“I love singing classic jazz standards—any Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney, or Etta James song would be amazing. I love ‘At Last’ by Etta James. For contemporary music, it’d be really cool to sing a Mumford & Sons song.”
Marley’s caught in a love triangle with Ryder and Jake. Who do you think she should choose?
“Jake. He’s the bad boy that has the sensitive side, and I think he has more depth. Nothing against Ryder, but Marley can relate to Jake.”
Do you have any other projects lined up?
“I’m definitely interested in doing movies. I’ve always focused more on acting than singing because that’s where my true passion lies.”
Will we see you on a Glee tour?
“I’m not sure! I know Ryan Murphy has tweeted about a tour possibly happening. Honestly, if it did, I would be so excited and willing. It’s not every day that an actor gets an opportunity that hundreds of recording artists are dying for.”
What do you hope that viewers take away from Marley’s storyline?
“I hope that young girls find strength in her struggle. Marley is extremely relatable and I hope that people can see that sometimes the good girls do end up on top and prevail.”
Read More http://www.teenvogue.com/entertainment/tv/2012-11/melissa-benoist-glee#ixzz2DU26KmVm