This week on The Glee Project the theme was adaptability, and the contestants were definitely caught off-guard. Between having less prep time for their various projects to last-chance performances for the bottom six that turned out to be surprise duets, many in the group struggled to keep up.
At the end of the hour, it was 24-year-old Mario Bonds who was eliminated. The self-described ‘villain’ of the show talked to EW about his role on the program, his confrontations with the judges, and what’s next for the young entertainer who just happens to be blind.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Have you been keeping up with the show?
MARIO BONDS: I think Tuesday’s episode was really hard, particularly hard for me. It’s unfortunate that at this point in the competition, you’re in the fifth week, it really gets tricky. The competition is really narrowing and it was the wrong week for me to be caught in my head. And I was caught in my head. I made the choice, because I was stressed out over the theme and stuff, I made the choice not to ask Erik for clarification in his acting direction. For example, when Erik said [during the video shoot], “I need you to do it with more swag,’ I’m a blind actor so when you say stuff like that, it’s like, ‘What do you mean?’ So I failed to ask for more direction and I didn’t pop enough. I regret leaving during adaptability week because adapting is something I have to do as a performer in my real life all the time, and The Glee Project audience only saw a fraction of who I am. I am not the villain of the piece. And that’s sort of how I’ve been cast. In a nutshell, I’m a happy go lucky, goofy guy who can’t stop laughing. … I have mixed feelings over the episode.
Overall, there were several instances where it seemed like you were talking back to the judges. Do you want to explain what you were trying to say?
It’s a reality show. It’s a competition, and I think people have forgotten that. So sometimes when you are trying to save yourself, in some cases I got wrongfully defensive, but my whole plan was to save myself. I’m a baby, a rookie in this business. The Glee Project took me from obscurity and put me on TV. So I would never think I had knowledge to lord over these industry professionals. So when I call myself the villain of the piece, I read the blogs, I read that stuff. [I know] people went from loving me to hating me, and who they hate isn’t Mario Bonds. That’s not who I am. To be honest, I was a bit devastated about it. I learned you have to have tough skin in this situation. I do regret that the audience was only shown a fraction of my real talent and a fraction of who I really am. Humans get cranky.
I thought it was interesting the backlash that happened when you would be vocal about what song parts you wanted.
When did disagreeing with people classify as being rude? We’re supposed to choose our parts, and it’s a competition. I didn’t know it was supposed to be a thing where OK, ‘You take this, I’ll take that.’ A certain line comes with a certain melody; a certain line might speak to you. I am musical. I am deep in imagery. I had visions for the first nine years of my life, so I have great perception of the world. Crazy as this sounds, I’m a very visual person. So when I hear a line, or hear a melody I also see the visual to that in my mind. All I did was respectfully say what line I would like, but unfortunately to the audience it comes off as me being a douchebag, which is a little disheartening.
Your last-chance duet last night was with Charlie. How was working with him?
Charlie is a fascinating human being. I was in love with Charlie’s voice when I first met him. The similarity between Charlie and I is we will both take a song and do our own thing with it, but Charlie will go a bit further than I do. He just re-writes the melody completely, so going into it, I was sort of [concerned] that was what he was going to do. But you can tell the theme of the week and where I was, beating myself up internally [over the video shoot problems with Erik] all of that is riding in my head. By that point [of rehearsal with Charlie] I was totally checked out, but once we got onstage and the music starts, Mario was back.
I really liked what you said at the end of the episode about being a regular contestant who just happens to be blind. Can you talk a little about that?
I wanted people to know, although they’ve been distracted by certain soundbites, that I’m a legitimate talent. …My fervent hope is that I wasn’t walking away from the show with people saying, ‘He was only on the show because he was blind.’ I wanted them to see that there was a legitimacy of me being chosen out of 50,000 people to be on the show.
What’s next for you?
My number one focus right now is actively seeking the interest of Interscope records. The Glee Project was suppose to be this great thing to get me on Glee, but since that’s not going to happen, I’m back to my first love and desperately hoping that the footage that was shown on The Glee Project was enough for the label to see what my talent was, and the distraction of misrepresented attitudes, and real moments of reality show tension that everyone goes through, that doesn’t offset the focus. I hope that I have shown Hollywood—I think Ryan [Murphy] said it best: What I’m doing is next to impossible. I hope that I have shown Hollywood ‘Here is a blind entertainer. Here is an entertainer that happens to be blind.’ [He] can use the stage, can give you a great visual time, and we should give him a chance. [It’s important people know] my five weeks on The Glee Project were the best five weeks of my life.
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