‘The Glee Project’ exclusive: Shanna Henderson talks shocking exit

If you are a major “Glee Project” fan like we are, then you are probably still trying to take in what happened on Tuesday night’s new episode. Despite never once having to perform in front of Ryan Murphy, Shanna Henderson was sent packing from the competition over what really seemed to be uncertainty about whether or not the “Glee” co-creator saw a character in her that he could write for.

We were curious to see how Shanna was feeling about this exit — and the reason behind her even being in the bottom three — now that she is looking back at her time on the show, and this was one of many things we talked about with her on Tuesday in an exclusive interview.

Cartermatt.com – To start things off, how have the past 24 hours or so been for you?

Shanna Henderson – I thought that people might have thought that I was throwing Michael under the bus [in saying that he should have been in the bottom instead of me], but I haven’t gotten one mean comment on Twitter or anything. They were all understanding of my point of view and agreed with me. The response has been good, and the support of people who were shocked that I went home was overwhelming and unexpected.

I’ve been trying to think about what happened to cause you to be sent home, and in doing so I’ve looked back at Marissa last season — who was sent home the first time she performed in front of Ryan [Murphy]. Do you think that being so strong in some ways hurts you? Some of the other contenders had more time to spend with Ryan and in turn, he could start to get an idea of who they are.

I think you’re 100% right. I felt like I was a complete underdog in the bottom 3, because both Blake and Aylin had seen him before. I had seen him at callbacks in L.A., and that was months before [taping]. I felt like I was definitely at a disadvantage, so if I could do it all over again I would sink may way into the bottom 3 and then shock them. (Laughs.)

Do you think in some way that geography or being ‘country’ may have hurt you? Maxfield was sent home first, and it was hard to tell if Ryan was just having a hard time relating to country music or writing for people from that region of the country.

That’s a good question — I don’t know. I know that Ryan was wanting a country character, and that’s who I am. I sing country music,  but I’m also extremely versatile with my vocals and can do pop and get rid of country, or do country and be myself. I can fit whatever mold, which is why I though I would fit in on ‘Glee’ because I could do the lead and also fit in the background.

I don’t know — maybe I just wasn’t what he was looking for.

What sort of character did you see yourself playing on ‘Glee’?

I would have been essentially the Rachel Berry character, but the athletic version of her. I’d be known for being the bubbly, smiley girl, but she would always sing depressing ballads and no one would know why, and it’s because of life experiences in her past. She had a hard life, and no one really ever knew it because she was smiling and fooling everyone.

What made you want to try out here? Were you a big fan of the show the first season, and what made you think this would be right for you now?

I was a big fan of the first season, and I was a senior in college. In October of this past year, I was trying to find a job and trying to get my name out there, and I saw that ‘The Glee Project’ was having auditions. So I decided that I would just audition and see what happens … ‘The Glee Project’ loved my first audition and I was cast. I felt like it was meant to be, and I was such a fan because I loved how they pulled inspiration from [the contestants’] stories, and I had come from a background where I knew they could pull inspiration from me.

The first week, you immediately came across as a favorite when you won the first homework assignment with Lea Michele. What was that feeling like?

For me, it wasn’t just about winning. It was about getting a job, and finding my career. That is what set me apart in that I wasn’t trying to impress someone I was starstruck by — I was trying to impress Lea and Ryan and prove to them that I could be working side by side with [the cast] as a vocalist and a musician and a dancer. I was here to prove myself, and that was my mindframe day one. I refused to beg my way on the show. I would be honest … but I didn’t want to say ‘please, please put me on the show.’ I wanted my talent to speak for me.

You mentioned Michael earlier, so let’s talk about what happened there. Do you think it was your homework assignment with him that hurt you worse than your music video?

Absolutely. I think that the homework assignment sets the pace for the week. Robert [Ulrich’s] the only mentor there, and he kind of tells everyone what happens. That was the first time I had ever gotten negative feedback at all, and it was a note that we both were stiff. I had never gotten that feedback before, but Michael had gotten it every week.

For me, that was the main reason I was in the bottom, and I was so confused. I couldn’t understand why I was there in the bottom three and Michael isn’t when he’s gotten he same note.

So have you started to figure out what’s next for you? Are you looking into television, music, or somewhere in between?

I would love to still be a part of ‘Glee’ if there was ever an opening. I’ll tell you what. Ryan, if he’s reading this, he needs to bring all of the ‘Glee Project’ kids on and have them be at regionals or something because we’re really talented. The people who have been eliminated the past few weeks — me and Abraham and Nellie — we were all really strong contenders. I think that it would be a strong thing for ‘Glee’ to have us on there since we have such amazing fans from the show.

I’m actually starting my career in country music. I’m going to move in Nashville and I’ve set up a five-year plan. I want to get a Grammy in five years, and I’m also going to try to audition for Broadway pieces in New York since I have a passion for that, too.

This may be a tough question for you to answer, but is there anyone that you are rooting for to win?

Oh, yeah! I’m totally Team Ali or Team Blake.

How bummed are you that Shanna is off the show now? We want to hear your thoughts below! To check out our full review of the episode from Tuesday night, be sure to hit up the link here.

Photo: Oxygen

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