Glee for Damian McGinty as he sings his way into the cast of TV hit
Don't Stop Believin' sang the cast of Glee in their first hit single - a message that Damian McGinty's ecstatic family took to heart.
The 18-year-old Londonderry singer's path to global TV success wasn't easy, but dad Damian snr and mum Joanne never doubted their talented son had what it takes to make it to the top.
Mr McGinty said he was hoarse from shouting during celebrations after a nerve-racking wait through the night for news from the Glee Project final in the US.
"It is an amazing achievement when you consider this wasn't just about a voice, but also acting, dancing and he has absolutely no background in acting and dancing," said the proud father.
"The people he was up against all had American musical theatre backgrounds, so he was up against it. He got more than enough knocks but he just picked himself up - there was fire in his belly - and said 'I'm going for this', and we are delighted for him."
Mr McGinty said his son will begin filming with the cast of Glee within the next 10 days and will not be able to return to Derry until Christmas.
"He is only 18 years of age. He went there on his own, and don't get me wrong, this is what he really wants, but I'm sure he had his moments lying in bed wishing he was at home with his family, his brother and sister, his mates.
"We are all 150% behind him and he has a family circle who has backed him since he was 14 years of age."
Damian's brother Emmet added: "He was the underdog. As he said as the show ended: 'Who would think that an 18-year-old Irish person could fly across himself and end up winning a role like this'?
"When he got the part it was very emotional. We got up this morning and were thinking: 'Did that really happen?' It is great, what an opportunity for him - seven episodes in the biggest show in the world."
The family reckon Damian's four years of touring the US and Canada with Phil Coulter's successful male five-piece Celtic Thunder will stand him in good stead.
The Derry singing legend was among the first to congratulate his former protege.
"Well done Damian! Brilliant. I still remember his demo CD arriving on my desk way before C.T. (Celtic Thunder) Knew he was going places but WOW. So proud of him," he wrote on Twitter.
Damian's former drama teacher at the North West Regional College said she was delighted that her star performing arts pupil has moved on to Glee's McKinley High.
"To say I'm delighted for Damian is an understatement," said lecturer Anne McMaster.
"These past two years, I've found him to be an extremely talented young man - thoughtful, polite, eager to learn, completely unassuming and totally professional."
Hard work and dedication pays off
By Maureen Coleman
Damian spoke yesterday of his 'rollercoaster' journey to win a guest role on all-dancing, all-singing hit TV show Glee.
Damian (18) will appear in seven episodes of season three of the series after winning talent show The Glee Project.
The singer was selected as one of the top 12 finalists out of 40,000 contenders who auditioned on Myspace. Damian said the whole process had taught him to work harder.
"Forty thousand people auditioned, but there were also casting calls around America in Texas, New York and LA, but then they narrowed it down from 40,000 to 2,000 and then from 2,000 to 800," he said.
"Then I got a phone call at the beginning of January to say I had made the final 80. There was acting, dancing and singing and I remember looking around listening to people singing and thought they were just fit for Broadway.
"At the start of February they cut it from 24 to 12 over Skype and then the show started and I made the final 12. Since then it's just been a rollercoaster.
"But I learned hard work is one of the most important things. If you want to get better you have to work incredibly hard."
Damian said he would love to get the chance to bring part of his own personality to his new Glee role.