Oxygen’s second season of “The Glee Project,” which premieres at 10 tonight (June 5), features a unique and talented Maryland native with a powerful story.
Lanham’s Mario Arnauz Bonds, 24, identifies himself as a, singer, songwriter, actor and dancer. But one thing that sets him apart is that he was born with Morning Glory Syndrome, which, at the age of 9, caused him to go completely blind.
Mario does not allow his disability to hold him back from the competition. We talked with Mario via email about the people who inspired him, his love for performing and how his blindness has actually helped his musicality.
Why did you decide to audition for “The Glee Project”?
Singing, dancing and acting are my favorite things to do. I believe that I was born to inspire and entertain. “The Glee Project” is my vehicle to have my story heard, and to inspire millions by hopefully making it to “Glee.”
What was it like living and working with people who all ultimately wanted to same thing as you: to win “The Glee Project”?
It was extremely tough. I had to be instantly close with people I didn't really know. On the other hand, I wanted to be friends, and then I had to remember that they were competitors. In the end, I had to follow my heart and hold on to the fact that "what's meant to be will be."
Did you get to meet any of the cast members of “Glee”? And if so, who made you totally star-struck?
I was star-struck [when I saw] Lea Michele. I was horrified of the fact that I had to sing in front of such a huge talent like her.
Did you ever feel like being blind was a disadvantage to you competing on the show? Why?
Sometimes I felt that way because I can't see the other contenders to judge my competition. Nevertheless, I [am] here to inspire Ryan Murphy to write a character based on me. Therefore, I've gotta be the best “me” ever.
Who was the first person you called when you found out you were going to be on “The Glee Project”?
The first person I called was the person that has helped me chase my dream for six years, Vinson Young, my roommate and one of my greatest friends. He has been relentless in his support of my dream. I felt like “TGP” success was his success as well.
What made you want to become a performer?
Performing is the difference between living and existing. Music and dancing makes me feel alive, and crowd affirmation is a drug like no other. I am miserable without opportunities to perform. I hope that I land a record contract so that it becomes a more constant reality for me.
If you could sing a duet with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
If someone called me tomorrow and said they'd like me to sing a duet with Adele or Chris Brown, I would probably faint.Michael Jackson's dead so that won't happen. I am the biggest Chris Brown and Adele fan.
I noticed that you play multiple instruments and enjoy writing songs. How has your disability impacted your music?
My hearing is heightened because of my disability, thus, I hear really, really well. My disability has given me a great sense of musical and creativity. However, I am the singer, songwriter, dancer, actor that happens to be blind, not the blind entertainer.
I read that you are a triplet, do either of them sing or play instruments?
My sisters, Marcheta and Marcelita Bonds, are phenomenal vocalists. We perform a lot. My whole family is musical for that matter.
What is your favorite thing about Baltimore?
I love the harbor, and the musicians that have come from Baltimore. Baltimore is a vibrant city, alive with culture and beauty.
In your bio, it says, “He believes music has healing powers.” Could you elaborate on that?
As a person that is very in touch with emotion, music has the ability to transport me to better places when I am down. Music brings me up, inspires me, and sometimes helps me make decisions.