Scott Porter Talks Overcoming Imposter Syndrome for His Epic Run on 'The Masked Singer'

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Scott Porter (R) stands with Nick Cannon (L) after being unmasked in 'The Masked Singer' Season 11 finale

Scott Porter proved he was a utility player during his time on The Masked Singer. Though known for his acting through roles on Friday Night Lights, Hart of Dixie, and Ginny and Georgia, he was able to showcase his powerhouse vocals in a major way. Whether it was fighting against anxiety, imposter syndrome, or two Smackdowns and three Battle Royales, he always kept the judges wildly impressed. And he even had time to move from "Gumball" to baseball as he coached his son's Little League team where, every week, he would sit next to Nick Cannon, who was none the wiser about his masked identity. And though he would ultimately lose the bout for the Golden Mask trophy, for him, it wasn't if he won or lost; it's how you play the game.

The day of his reveal, Scott Porter spoke to Parade about his time on The Masked Singer.

Everything to Know About The Masked Singer Season 11

How did you get involved with The Masked Singer?
Yeah, I think I've talked about it on some of my packages. I kind of came up in the performance world through Orlando. And one of the people that I used to perform on the same stage with, and used to actually beatbox for a while while he would do improv comedy songs, was Wayne Brady. I've known Wayne for a really long time. So when I started to hear that Wayne might be on the second season, I started to tune in. And I loved Fox's journey. It was so cool. And to see Wayne win was just incredible. And he has a saying: "Just lead with talent first." Cut through all the expectation stuff, any fame stuff, any of that stuff, and just let talent shine. And The Masked Singer allowed that to happen for his season.

So I never thought I would be on it though. I am just that guy from that show you love. Nobody really knows me. I'm not at the level of celebrity of a lot of the people that have competed and won or made an impact on Masked Singer. I'm not Ne-Yo. I'm not Jewel. I'm not Wayne Brady or T-Pain. I'm not even Daughtry, who famously came in second on his season. So I never thought that I would be a part of something like this. When you think about Friday Night Lights, you know Kyle Chandler and Taylor Kitsch and Jesse Plemons. But do you necessarily know my name? Probably not. Rachel Bilson's on Hart of Dixie. I'm just George Tucker.

So I got a phone call. Apparently, someone had seen a video of me singing "God Bless the Broken Road" at a charity event to raise money for keeping the arts alive in schools in Los Angeles. And they were like, "We gotta get this guy on the show." This is really what the show is about. It's about finding people who can do something that so many people don't know about. And they asked me to come to it. And I was super excited. Slightly intimidated, somewhat surprised. But I'm never been one to back down from a challenge. So I jumped in.

Well I'm sure something that made you slightly intimidated was having to sing in a giant gumball machine. And I really commend you for pulling off some of those moves in a costume like that. What was your reaction to finding out who you'd be this season?
So back in the original seasons of Masked Singer, from what I understand, the performer would really get to pick and build the costumes. But the way that they shoot now with multiple seasons a year, they've got to have costumes ready to go. And in my initial call with Masked Singer, they would give me hints. They were like, "It's coin-operated." And I'm a huge gamer. So I was like, "Am I an arcade cabinet?" And they're like, "No, no, no, no, no. It has some more moving parts." I was like, "Oh, am I a jukebox? That would be pretty cool, too." And they're like, "No, you're gonna be able to move more. You are a gumball machine!" And they showed me the mock-up. And it looks like a mech at a Voltron. And I was like, "This is rad. This is way different than anything I would have expected." And I so quickly fell in love with Gumball, with the idea of this mask, and I got to meet the team that made it. There's a man named Gordon Tarpley who I worked with hand in hand when I was first getting all the fittings done.

And even though I didn't get to build the costume, I did ask them one request. And if you go back and watch the show, you'll see it. Everything on him is symmetrical with the exception of his right hand. I wear this bracelet at all times. [Holds up blue bracelet.] This is the Huntington's Disease Society of America. It says "family." It has everything on it. And they put this blue band on the right side of the right glove of Gumball. So my wife is Gene positive for HD. May is Huntington's Disease Awareness Month. And I just kind of had this piece of myself as a part of the costume. And that helped me feel a little bit more at home.

So it was daunting at first. It's definitely a sensory deprivation chamber. You go in, you can't really hear anything, it's impossible to get a drink. The head is 36 pounds. And you sweat, and it's dark in there. But it also helps you focus in a way. It helps you shut out all the expectations. And it helps you focus on what's the most meaningful thing for you in that particular song, who you're dedicating it to, or what it means to you. And I think that helped alleviate a lot of the pressure that I may have felt if I didn't have the mask on at all. So really, really incredible experience.

You speak about that pressure. I know that you expressed on the show feeling imposter syndrome in your initial performances. And you said in other interviews you actually had a panic attack before your first song. Talk to me about working through that.
I'm really hard on myself. And I've been that way since I was young. I don't know why necessarily. But I think I started to figure some of it out throughout Gumball's journey. I was an only child; we moved around a ton. I was always the new kid; I was always trying to prove myself. And it kind of felt that way on this show. Again, I am the outsider. I'm not a professional recording artist. I'm not a multi-time Grammy Award-winning performer. I am, like we said earlier, just kind of that guy from that show. And I kind of felt like that kid again, and had some breakthroughs on this journey.

I was really tough on myself in the vocal booth a lot. [The Voice winner] Alisan Porter, my vocal coach--everybody gets assigned a different vocal coach on the show--she was such an immense help for me. She was not only a coach who got me to believe in myself, time and time again, but also she had done this. She had performed on a show like this. And she had the experience. And she was also a bit of a therapist. So between her and my wife, which I talked about on the show, telling me, "You're doing this for a reason, and you belong here," they got me to really believe in myself. And then once I got to "Carry On My Wayward Son," the athlete in me kind of took over. I was like, "You know what? I'm gonna leave everything on the stage. Every single performance, I'm not gonna leave anything left. And if that's not enough to move on, I'll be proud of that." And luckily, it carried me all the way to the end.

To that point, how did it feel to get so close to the Golden Mask trophy and not win?
I didn't care about the trophy. Ultimately, my biggest desire, and what was the biggest win for me on the show, was being able to sing as much as I could. And by making it to the finale, I sang every song that any contestant could possibly sing on The Masked Singer and more, because I ended up in a couple of Smackdowns. I don't know, I think I might have set the record for the amount of performances done in the new age of Maskd Singer. I mean, I got to sing all of my performances, and two Smackdowns and three Battle Royales. So think about that. That's a crazy number of stuff. And I think Robin said it at the end. After I did "Latch," he said, "To do this many performances and still be bringing something new or fresh or different, that's really tough to do." But that's what I set out to do, to show everybody everything I'm capable of. And luckily, sticking around that long let me do it. So when it came down to getting the trophy or not, I had already won. And I was more than happy, more than honored to lose to Vanessa, somebody who I've known for a long time and actually worked with. So it was pretty cool to see a friend hoist that thing at the end of the day. 

One of the benefits of sticking around for so long is that we got to hear plenty of guesses from the judges. It ranged from James Marsden to Derek Hough to James Van Der Beeke. And Rita did get close at one point by saying it may be someone from Friday Night Lights, but ultimately didn't figure you out. What were your reactions to all the guesses?
I mean, first of all, you're flattered. I mean, the amount of talent that they guessed that I could possibly be. It was really cool to hear a lot of those names of people that I look up to and in so many different industries, whether it's in film, television, performing music, and dancing I mean, Derek Hough, come on! That guy's a pro. But it was just a lot of fun. They were so kind, honestly. They would talk about my dancing, they would talk about my ability to connect, they would talk about my vocal. And I was like, "Who am I up here right now? This is not what I'm used to." And I really took a lot of it to heart. It was really nice to hear some of the things.

But at the end, when Rita said Friday Night Lights. As I said earlier, I'm under the assumption they will never know who I am. And in that moment, I was like, "No, no, no, no, no. She's gonna guess me!" Because to go to the semi-final not being guessed, and then be gone the last second, I feel like I would have lost my badge of honor of not having them figure me out. And that's how I wear it. I wear it as a badge of honor. That's what the show was created for, to surprise people. Who is this under the mask? You're never going to know. And that was the element that I was most proud of. At the end of the day, I wasn't somebody they knew. But I was somebody that they thought at the end was worthy of even sticking around that long. So that was a really cool thing. Anyway, Taylor Kitsch, I am not! [Laughs.]

I need to hear more about this connection you have with Nick that you talked about after being unmasked. So you coached his son's baseball team while you were on the season?
Yeah, my son played fall ball for baseball. And they didn't have enough coaches. And so the head coach of the team was like, "Who wants to step in?" And I was like, "Sure, yeah, I'm into it." I coach my son's flag football team. And I hope to coach my daughter's when she when she pops into sports. And I'm there after a couple of practices, and Golden shows up. And Nick is the one that's brought him. And we're already filming the season. And I've already stood next to Nick a couple of times. And I see him roll up, and I was like, "What is happening?"

And I have to speak with volume and clarity to get through to these eight-year-old, nine-year-old kids. And he's hearing my voice every week on Saturday and Sunday. And then I'm standing right next to him on stage. So if you notice, I don't talk to the judges as much as some of the other masks. The reason for that is I was very nervous that I was going to give it away to Nick. He might start to go, "Hey, I know this." Because he can hear my actual voice. Everybody else in the theater hears the modulated voice through the microphone. So I was I was very nervous about that whole thing. I loved how genuine his reaction was when I took my mask off, though. He turned around and he goes, "Yo, what's up, man?!" He gave me such a big dap. We did spend a lot of time together; our kids won a lot of games together that year. And that was a really cool way to cap it off.

Finally, if you could pick a fellow celeb from one of your projects to do a future season of Masked Singer, who would it be?
Oh, man. I worked with a woman on Hart of Dixie that I almost worked with on stage in Legally Blonde in New York City. Her name is Laura Bell Bundy. She may be one of the singular most impressive vocalists I've ever worked with in my life. And since she started doing TV, she does a lot of comedy and she has very comedic chops. But I think people maybe don't associate her with the immense level of talent that she has. So that's one person in particular that I would really love to see people react to.

Somebody else I worked with a long time ago who is kind of like me, he's bounced around a lot. His name's Bryan Greenberg. People don't know that he's an awesome songwriter and does some really cool spoken word vocal stuff. In this industry, it's really fun to go support people that you work with. And I'm surprised every day with what people I've come across can do. And I'd say that those are two stars that I would love to see have a similar track like I did on this show. People know them. But do people know them on the level of Vanessa Hudgens? No, but that's what makes this show really interesting.

Next, check out our interview with Masked Singer Season 11 winner Vanessa Hudgens.