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The Glee Project season two winner Blake Jenner will make his Glee debut as newbie Ryder Lynn on the Fox musical when the series returns Nov. 8 and the character comes with a full plate.
Ryder is an existing student at McKinley, and like Jenner was in high school, is member of the football team. The character will possess many of the traits — vulnerability, caring, sensitive, driven — that the actor displayed during the Oxygen reality competition that earned him the seven-episode run.
“I’m really stoked for everybody to see who Ryder plays, it’s really fun,” Jenner tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Once you meet him, you see he’s a strong person but he has his own vulnerabilities and being dyslexic is one of them.”
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The learning disability, Jenner says, is something Ryder has kept from everyone including his parents and while it doesn’t define who he is, it certainly makes him work harder at everything.
“He’s gotten to where he is by himself with a lot of hard work and determination but it’s been hard and has been something inside of him that kills him because he wants to do well but he just can’t,” Jenner says.
Jenner, who has been vocal about wanting to play a Finn-type character on Glee, will see Ryder follow in the footsteps that Cory Monteith set with Finn: a member of the football team and eventually, a member of New Directions. His path to the glee club will also bear a similar resemblance to Finn, whom Will Schuester (Matthew Morrison) discovered singing in the shower.
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“Ryder is a football player and he’s got some moves and that’s what initially gives him that itch for performing,” Jenner says. “He falls into the glee club and that whole world by accident and it has the same feel to how Finn did it.”
With Finn back at McKinley to direct Grease, he’ll will play a mentor role for Ryder as the new kid on the block takes on a role in the school musical.
“Ryder looks up to Finn and sees him as a role model and mentor and wants to try and be what Finn is because throughout Finn’s time in New Directions, he’s grown as a person and Ryder is a lot like Finn when he first started: he’s not clear on who he is just yet and has a lot of question marks in his life,” Jenner says.
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But the path won’t be an easy one for Ryder, who already seems to be crushing on Marley (Melissa Benoist).
“When you’re dealing with glee club and Grease, you have to study lines and Ryder has to work very hard at it,” Jenner previews. “It hits a point where it’s a little too hard for him and all his emotions pour out like gravy on Thanksgiving.”
How do you think Ryder will fit in at McKinley? Hit the comments with your thoughts. Glee returns Thursday, Nov. 8 at 9 p.m. on Fox.
Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit
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