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Canadian Popstars: The One – Talking with Wesleyby Paris Cosby -- 05/31/2003
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Wesley, the 17-year-old from Welland, Ontario, if you'll recall, placed fourth on the Canadian reality program, Popstars: The One. (Christa from Newfoundland won the title.) He was also the last male in the entire competition, which is a great feat in itself. I recently sat down and chatted with Wesley about his experiences on the show and with life in general.
We met at the Seaway Mall in Welland because it was about the only place I knew how to get to in that city. I used to go to College in Welland and I would go to the Serpentarium in the mall – just because it was a cool place to go. It isn't there anymore but we both knew where it was so we met in front of where it used to be. When I saw him, the first thing I noticed was that his hair was different. On the show he was known for his Mohawk, but that was gone. His hair was spiky and had a messy look to it – very cute on him! (See picture at the top of this article.) His sister, Jillian, came with him to meet me and as we walked through the mall to find a place to sit, it was so funny to see all the young girls staring and whispering. They obviously recognized him. There was even one little girl sitting beside us that just literally sat and stared at Wesley the whole time we were chatting. He's a bit of a heart throb with the young ladies I think.
With all of the attention he was receiving, I asked him if it was weird to be recognized from Popstars when he is out. He said that sometimes it is but one of the funniest times was when he was at work – he works at a pizza place in Welland – two girls came in and saw him and just screamed and ran out! Apparently, they recognized him from the show and that was a little too much for them to handle! I suppose one wouldn't expect to run into a Popstars contestant working at the local pizza place so I can't really blame them, but it would have been fairly shocking for him to have two girls walk in, scream and run out.
As far as how he landed himself on the show, it wasn't actually Wesley's idea to try out for Popstars. It was his father's idea. Wesley told me that one day he was just getting out of the shower and his dad asked him, "Hey, do you want to try out for this Popstars thing?" And, Wes said, "Sure." That was how it all began...
The thing that surprised me the most, especially considering how far Wesley ended up going in the competition and how well he did, was that he actually wasn't chosen at first when he auditioned in Toronto. He told me that when he first auditioned for Popstars, he was sent home. Two weeks later, he received a phone call saying that he had made the cut and that he was invited to boot camp. The reason for this, he said, was because they actually ended up cutting a city out of the audition tour and had five spots left to fill. The extra five finalists were divided up from the remaining cities with the judges inviting three more from Toronto and one more from both Vancouver and Montreal. I have no idea how they edited the initial boot camp invitations to look like they were done the day of the auditions but the editors did a great job – I had absolutely no idea that some of the finalists weren't actually chosen that same day. I asked Wes if they asked him back so they could film it but he said, "No, they just told me over the phone." It also makes me wonder, considering that Wesley placed fourth out of 7000, what the hell the judges were thinking! Anyway, I digress... back to my chat with Wesley.
I asked him how things were at school – he still attends high school. I figured the entire school would be excited and cheering him on! It wasn't exactly like that – as he told me. Some kids were, I suppose, jealous and gave him a hard time about it. He said that most of the kids were cool but that some just liked to harass him, which I don't understand, but then again, I'm 31 and not 16 anymore. Even one of the staff members had a problem with his Mohawk (the students are required to wear uniforms). But, because it was one of the things that set him apart from the other contestants, the teacher was persuaded to let him keep it for a little bit longer. As it was, the contestants were only away at boot camp for eight days. Wesley was rooming with my favorite beer commercial guy, Aaron! He said Aaron was a great guy and I told him how much I was in love with Aaron. I'm sure he thought I was nuts but that's not out of the norm for me so that's okay.
While at boot camp, the contestants all stayed in a hotel in Toronto and I figured the producers would have all of the finalists on one floor but Wesley told me that they were spread all over the hotel with most people being on different floors. I'm not sure if they set it up that way on purpose or if maybe that's all that was available. We, as the viewing audience, really didn't see much of the outside-of-boot-camp experiences or interpersonal relationships that went on during the first stay in Toronto. Or, for that matter, when the final 12 stayed in a house together. That stay lasted eight days as well. I wish we would have seen more of that. I never really felt like we, the audience, had a firm grasp of who these people were. I know that's not what the whole experience was about but it would have been nice to see how they interacted with one another and have gotten to know them a little better.
I asked Wesley about his experience with Popstars and he loved it! I also asked how the cameras affected him and the others in their day-to-day activities. I figured his answer would be like all other reality show contestants when they say, "You don't notice them (the cameras)," but his answer was different. He did notice them and was conscious about what he said around them. And, of course, if you were following along with me during the airing of Popstars: The One, you'll know that I had a strange fascination with Paul Myers. I did ask Wesley about him. I said, "I love Paul! What is he really like?" He said that Paul was really cool and that all the judges were great. Even Jason Rouse? Hmmm, well I'll reserve judgment on that one until my date with him at Yuk-Yuk's! I'm still standing by my offer to buy him a beer if I ever do see him there. I may take a roll of duct tape though – just for good measure.
As for Wesley, if you want to catch up with him these days, he has two bands on the go which play throughout the Niagara region. He has a cover band called Crosstown Fugees, although what they cover, I'm not sure. Either I wasn't paying enough attention or he didn't tell me. What a great interviewer and note-taker I am, eh? Oh well, I never said I wasn't an airhead! Anyway, his other band, which plays original songs, is called Flatlined. You can find them at www.flatlinedband.com. There is a link directly to Wes on there for those of you that want to get in touch with him. Also, if you head down to the local Y, you can find Wes working there as well.
I enjoyed my visit with Wesley. He proved himself to be an intelligent, hardworking, amusing and forthcoming individual. I wish him the best of luck in the future. I'm sure Popstars was just a stepping stone to many great things that are yet to come.
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