There is an upcoming new series on Fox called Glee that has been getting a lot of buzz lately. If you have seen who makes up this talented cast, then you know one of the reasons why there is so much buzz. Recently, I was fortunate enough to talk with not one, but two of the cast members of Glee, Cory Monteith and Naya Rivera. If you are not familiar with these two young actors already, keep reading to get to know more about these soon to be household names.
Glee premieres in the fall but catch a preview of Glee on May 19th, 2009 at 9pm on Fox.
Congratulations on getting a role for the Fox television comedy, Glee. So tell me, what was the auditioning process like?
Cory: Thank you! First I sent them a few taped auditions from Canada. After a few weeks, I heard back that casting felt I was right for the part, and wanted me to audition in person... so I drove from Vancouver to audition the next day. A screen test for a room full of network execs followed, and I found out I got the job 45 minutes later.
Naya: My manager knows that I like to sing and dance so I was called in. I have always wanted to sing and dance in a TV show so she told me that this show would be perfect for me. So I went and sang in all of the auditions and ending up getting the role.
Tell us the main premise of the show and explain your character.
Cory: Glee is sort of like High School Musical... after it's been punched in the stomach and had it's lunch money stolen. It has lots of snark and weirdness, as to be expected from Ryan Murphy. My character, Finn Hudson, is the quarterback of the high school football team. He's been blackmailed by his Spanish teacher to join the glee club. He's got a secret desire to be in the spotlight, performing... but also has his reputation to uphold.
Naya: My character’s name is Santana. She is a cheerleader and in a really competitive cheer leading group called “The Cheerios” on campus. She is really popular and part of this celibacy club and whatnot. She has a mean streak and does not like the character, Rachel.
For the character that you play, what is your favorite or least favorite characteristic?
Cory: Finn is almost as smart as rocks. I like playing that. To prepare Finn before a scene, I just stop thinking! (kidding...kind of.)
Naya: My favorite would probably be the fact that she is so competitive because I have that same character trait. She is headstrong. My least favorite part would be her mean streak. I can be a bit mean at times but not to the point where I ruin people’s lives. (laughs) It is fun to play though.
In what ways are you and your character similar and not alike?
Cory: Well, I'm not 17 or from Ohio, or play on the football team or date cheerleaders, etc... But Finn and I share a certain kind of vulnerability. And Virtue.
Naya: She loves to perform and so do I but I am not an evil plotter. She is a really big follower just to stay popular and I definitely did not do that in high school.
If you were not playing your character, what other character would you like to play?
Cory: I really want to start playing bad guys. Think Jude Law in the road to perdition...
Naya: Probably Rachel. (Just as Lea Michele walks into the hair and makeup trailer and says hi over the telephone). That was her, just now. She is loud and boisterous and everything. She is really talented in Broadway so I would probably want to do that.
What sports and clubs were you in during high school?
Cory: I wasn’t.
Naya: No, I didn’t do anything in high school. My mom made me join choir for a couple of weeks freshman year but I didn’t like it so I quit. All I did was go out for auditions and try to get jobs.
What has it been like being able to work with both talented actors and singers, some of which have Broadway credits?
Cory: Really great. I've really had to rise to the occasion... First time for me having to sing in anything. But I’ve learnt a lot from working with Lea Michelle and Matt (Morrison) they're both so brilliant in their roles
Naya: It is totally different, I have never gotten to do this. They are so talented.
When did you realize that you were interested in acting as a career?
Cory: It jumped in my lap. I was 20, at a loose end, and it was suggested to me as a career... I didn't occur to me before that point as something to consider.
Naya: I was around 6 years old. My mom got me into acting and I never thought of doing anything else.
Out of all of the films and television shows you have appeared on so far, what has been your favorite filming location?
Cory: I love big shooting days, with crane shots and hundreds of people on set. That's really exciting.. Shooting in LA for the first time has been really exciting for me too!
Naya: I would say this one. The Paramount lot is awesome. I actually worked on this lot when I was 5 years old so it is a blast from the past.
You have played the drums since you were 7 years old but how long have you been singing?
Cory: Just sang naturally. Along to the radio, in the car, in the shower... but never considered myself a "singer” until now, I suppose.
What was your favorite part about guest starring on the ABC hit series Kyle XY as Charlie?
Cory: I got to be the bad guy for a while. And I got to learn how to play basketball for television. That is totally different than playing basketball elsewhere.
Do you have anything to say about Kyle XY being canceled?
Cory: It had its run. All good things come to an end. It'll give all the people involved a chance to do other stuff now, so that is good.
Are you settled in Los Angeles, CA or do you go back and forth between LA and Canada?
Cory: I just officially settled in LA, and I’m giving up the place in Vancouver... A little scary, but it sure looks like I’ll be here a lot more than in Canada!
What is your nationality?
Naya: I am half Puerto Rican, a quarter German, and a quarter African American.
When did you start songwriting?
Naya: Really heavily around 15 years old. I needed an outlet to get things out. I was a big journal logger. I look back at the journals and it is really embarrassing. (laughs) I like so and so but he doesn’t like me stuff.
Have you always lived in LA?
Naya: Yes, for the most part. I grew up in Valencia which is not too far away.
What are your favorite hangout spots in LA?
Naya: Everywhere. I like clubs and lounges. I love Les Deux. I can drink now so anywhere! (I hear a cheer in the background)
What did you do for your 22nd birthday (January 12)?
Naya: I didn’t really do anything. I just went to The Melting Pot with a couple of friends. I went to Vegas for my 21st so I thought I should lay low for this one.
Back to Glee really quick, do you have the same style as your character?
Definitely not. We wear the same thing all the time, our cheer leading uniform and a side ponytail.
A few years ago, what was it like working on The Bernie Mac Show?
Naya: It was so much fun. I actually got hired as a one time Guest Star but they brought me back for about 5 more episodes. It was so much fun. Bernie (Mac) was so funny and it was really sad when I found out that he passed. Camille Winbush was really sweet and fun to work with.
Note: Glee is filmed at Paramount Studios and around Hollywood. At the time that I spoke to Cory Monteith and Naya Rivera, about 2 weeks ago, the third episode was being filmed.