Mario Bonds came into "The Glee Project" (Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on Oxygen) Season 2 as one of the show's most accomplished contestants. Not only is the 24-year-old a comedian, motivational speaker, and voice-over artist, but even without his sight, Bonds can sing, dance, act and play plenty of musical instruments, including piano, drums and guitar.
However, being an overachiever won't win you any gold stars in "Glee" maestro's Ryan Murphy's book. Unfortunately for Bonds, even though he had an abundance of talent, he lacked adaptability. And sometimes on "Glee," you have to be able to roll with the punches.
HuffPost TV chatted with the recent "Glee Project" castoff about his time on the show, belting Beyonce, being cast as bad guy and the thing he regrets most about "The Glee Project."
So Adaptability Week was hard for you. Why do you think you struggled so much?
Unfortunately, at this point in the competition, during the fifth week of the competition, things are getting harder, so it was the wrong time for me to get caught up in my head. I was thinking too much about the theme, and Erik [White], to me, was more a judge this particular week than a director. I was just thinking too much about not messing up, and that caused me to freeze, and I failed to ask for more direction. I’m a blind actor. I’m not a sighted actor, so when someone says to a blind actor, "I need you to do it with more swag," I should have asked, "Well, what the hell do you mean?"
You seemed so confident in the beginning.
I lost my confidence because of how difficult the theme had gotten. I perform best when I’m fearless, but in that situation, where I’m being judged by how fast I adapt to a curveball, it placed me in a different mental space. From what I’ve been told, you can definitely see the confusion on my face. Sometimes directors can give confusing directions, but it was up to me to ask for clarification, and I didn’t. I didn’t pop enough in the video.
I thought it was pretty interesting that they put you and Charlie together for your last chance performance in front of Ryan. You didn’t give enough in the video shoot, and he gave too much.
It was tough. Here’s the thing: I was handed an iPod and a glass of water. "The Glee Project" is really a test of your improvisational creativity. I made what turned out to be a mundane choice, to be the rich kid that didn’t give a damn to what was going on around him and was just rocking out to the iPod. Robert [Ulrich] wanted me to make bolder choices, and I understand that, but I thought that’s what they wanted me to do with the props that I got. I feel good. I didn’t make it to the fifth episode because I sucked at being an actor.
It looked like you clashed with some of the mentors. Both Erik and Nikki [Anders] commented that you were being difficult at some point. Did you feel like you were being disrespectful when you were in the competition?
That’s something that is a little disheartening for me. If you look at the definition of who Mario Bonds is, I’m a happy-go-lucky, goofy guy who loves people. I’m very respectful in this business. I’m a baby in this business. I’m not the combative type, especially to the industry professionals. I remember being intimidated by Nikki. You’re in the booth, and you’re singing a line that’s about six to eight seconds long, and you’re being judged. A few takes decides your entire fate. That’s a lot of pressure. It’s a reality show. You’re in a place that’s full of tension. Sometimes things that you normally wouldn’t say come out. If I did say things, I did it in a respectful way.
Well, every season needs a bad guy, right? Last season, Alex [Newall] got a rough edit, and he was portrayed as the diva.
I was devastated and disheartened that it seemed to be me this time because that’s not the real Mario. Devastated is a strong word, but that’s all I can say. I’m not the villain. I’m the goofy guy. Since when did disagreeing with people classify you as a rude person?
It also seemed like you had tension with your housemates. Did you all get along?
We had a fabulous relationship. We were all really close. Lily Mae, me and Blake were like the three stooges. I have this incredible connection with Blake, and I was very sad when I left the competition because I knew that I wasn’t going to see him for a while. They have hours and hours of footage for a 42-minute episode. It’s impossible for everything to get in there. You don’t see all of the games and vocal battles. The "Glee Project" cast, they love me. They’ve nicknamed me "Mar." They took great care of me. They were always looking out for me.
You guys had vocal battles?
Sometimes, yeah. There was just a lot of singing! The five weeks that I was in that house were the best five weeks of my 24-year-old life. The only regret that I have is that I feel like people didn’t get to see the real me and all of the talent that I have. There’s a tremendous amount of me that the audience didn’t get to see.
What would you sing around the house?
I was the one who was always doing loud vocal runs. Sometimes Aylin would be like, "Mario, stop belting!" One of the songs that was on heavy rotation was, of course, Beyonce’s "1+1." We were all obsessed with that song. That’s one of Lily’s favorite songs. Elvis’ "Heartbreak Hotel" was another one. Michael would grab his guitar, and we would all just rock out to that song. That’s the fun stuff. I have a new family in the "Glee Project" cast.
What was it like working with Charlie? You have two very distinct styles.
Charlie is fascinating. He’s a sea of ideas. He’s so creative, and I respect that. When it came to doing a duet with Charlie, I was like, "Woah! Am I prepared to work with this person?" I’m in love with Charlie’s voice. I always was, even all the way back to callbacks. We do have one similarity: Both of us will take a song, and put our own spin on it, but Charlie goes further than I do. He does it with every song! I think a lot of people can look at me and say, "He’s upset because he thinks he’s better than everyone else." No, that’s not it. It’s self-disappointment and exhaustion. I wasn’t mad at Charlie.
I thought your duet with Charlie was really nice, and I especially loved Nellie and Blake’s duet. They were great.
Well, no, Nellie and Blake’s duet wasn’t great. It was spectacular! Nellie’s voice is priceless. I used to corner her in the cast house and make her sing her songs to me. "You have to sing one of your songs to me now!" She’s so great, and she’s also an amazing writer.
"The Glee Project" airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET on Oxygen.