Scott Porter's “Ginny & Georgia” Costars Recognized Him as “Masked Singer'”s Gumball“ ”Thanks to Karaoke (Exclusive)

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The actor placed second on season 11 of the Fox singing competition and tells PEOPLE he "wanted so badly not to let people down" on the show

<p>Jon Kopaloff/Getty; Michael Becker / FOX</p> Scott Porter as Gumball on

Jon Kopaloff/Getty; Michael Becker / FOX

Scott Porter as Gumball on 'The Masked Singer' season 11
  • Scott Porter was revealed as Gumball in the May 22 finale of The Masked Singer season 11

  • The actor came in second place behind Vanessa Hudgens, the show's Goldfish

  • Porter talks to PEOPLE about his experience on the Fox competition show, which taught him to "live life, be present" and "don't take any moment for granted"

Ginny and Georgia star Scott Porter went all season of The Masked Singer without the judges guessing his identity, and he doesn’t mind that, despite nearly 20 years in Hollywood, he’s remained rather anonymous — even without the Gumball costume.

“I absolutely loved that they didn't guess who I was,” Porter, 44, tells PEOPLE. “I will wear that as a badge of honor. That's the type of guy I am, and I'm so happy about it. The NHL sent me the Stanley Cup to my house not too long ago because I'm a Rangers fan; the NHL posted a photo of me and everybody's response in the comments was, ‘Who?’”

Although Porter didn’t take home the Golden Mask trophy — that honor went to Goldfish, who turned out to be actress and singer Vanessa Hudgens — being the runner-up on The Masked Singer gave Porter the confidence to pursue more musical projects going forward.

Related: The Masked Singer Season 11 Reveals: See All the Celebrities Who Were Unmasked

“Before I did The Masked Singer, I didn't have the confidence in myself that I could actually make it happen, but I think now I do, and that's a big step,” the dad of daughter Clover, 6 and son McCoy, 8, says. “Singing on that stage with no expectations upon you because you have this costume on really helped unlock that part of me again.”

Porter talked throughout the season about his wife Kelsey’s health journey and now that he’s been unmasked, the Friday Night Lights alum explains that Kelsey tested positive for the gene that carries Huntington’s disease, an inherited disorder that causes nerve cells in the brain to decay over time. His mother-in-law has already shown symptoms of the disease.

<p>Eric Charbonneau/Getty</p> Scott Porter with his wife Kelsey and their kids Clover and McCoy at the premiere of 'The Garfield Movie' in L.A. on May 19

Eric Charbonneau/Getty

Scott Porter with his wife Kelsey and their kids Clover and McCoy at the premiere of 'The Garfield Movie' in L.A. on May 19

For Kelsey, “her journey is looking forward and trying to figure out, how do we raise money to fight this thing? How do we find a cure? How do we support people that are living with it?” Porter says. “Huntington's disease is still called, somewhat offensively in my mind, a ‘boutique disease,’ because not enough people have it for the awareness to have hit a level that we need it to be at. There's over a quarter million Americans that are battling this just here in the States, not to mention the numbers worldwide. And my wife is my inspiration every single day.”

Porter shares how long it took for his kids to identify him on the show, when he had a “panic attack” inside the Gumball costume and what viewers can expect from Ginny & Georgia season 3.

PEOPLE: What did it mean to you to make it to the finale?

SCOTT PORTER: Making it to the finale meant the world to me, because it meant I got to sing every single song that you can possibly sing on a Masked Singer journey. When I started being in the bottom two, in the first episode, I was beside myself. I came home and my wife was asleep already, and I got into bed, and she woke up, and I said, "I've made a terrible mistake, I don't belong here." And she told me, "Yes you do, just stay with it. You got through tonight, all you can do is all you can do." That's one of our big things. I didn't want to go home, I didn't want to stop singing. Making it to the finale, that's all I wanted to do. Win or lose didn't matter as much as being able to do the last two performances that I was able to do, and that's everything to me.

How was it performing as Gumball?

The first night I performed, I think I had a flat out panic attack, and I don't say that lightly. I was having a hard time breathing, I needed to get off that stage and get that helmet off. It was during the dress rehearsal, and I think it was the pressure I was putting on myself in that moment. I wanted so badly not to let people down, not to let The Masked Singer down and make them think they made a mistake letting someone like me go on the show. I needed a break and fresh air, and I needed to stop sweating and get my heart rate down before I could settle in. And then when I ended up in the bottom two that night, it woke something up inside of me. I used to play football in high school and college, it brought that athlete back out. And I said, "You know what? There's no room for doubt. I've got to just go out there and leave it all on the stage. And if I do that and somebody decides that I am going home, I can be proud of what I did." That's what I did the rest of the way.

<p>Michael Becker / FOX</p> Scott Porter performing as Gumball on 'The Masked Singer' season 11

Michael Becker / FOX

Scott Porter performing as Gumball on 'The Masked Singer' season 11

You mentioned in one of your clue packages how you had to give up singing when you came to Hollywood, why was that?

Back when I first started in this business — ages ago it feels like now — there were a lot of boxes that Hollywood wanted to put you in. If you were a film actor, you were a film actor. If you were a television actor, you were a television actor. If you were a Broadway performer, that's what you were. And when I first got out to L.A., I remember meeting a casting director and saying to her, "I still love to sing, I just did this Off-Broadway [show] called Altar Boyz. And I want to do films, and theater, and do all of this stuff." And she looked at me and said, "That's cute. You're out here in Hollywood now, be a film actor." And it really kind of was jarring to me.

Do you feel like that mentality has changed?

When I look back two decades later, I feel like we now live in an environment where everybody is encouraged to show all the sides of themselves, and everybody is out there doing all of the things. At my heart and at my core, I'm a performer. Whether it's live on stage or on a set, this is what I've done my whole life. I built this career after watching my parents tour in a rock band in the Midwest. And when I get to do this, I think of them; I think of all of my friends back in Orlando who I grew up with performing in theme parks that are some of the most talented people in the world. For me, that's what this whole journey was about, was just continuing to perform like that and to get that piece of me back, to look back at that person 20 years ago and say, "I think you were a little wrong, saying that you can only do one thing. I think we can all do everything, and we should encourage that."

What did you learn about yourself by going on The Masked Singer?

The thing we took from it is live life, be present, don't take any moment for granted, do things that challenge you, explore places you never would've thought to do it before. The family, we've spent the last four summers outside of Los Angeles just exploring, and we're going to continue to do that. And this journey on Masked Singer was another part of that, just exploring, challenging myself and pushing forward. I did this show for my parents, I did this show for my wife and my kids, and I did the show for all of my old friends that I used to perform with in theme parks back in Orlando and on smaller stages with in New York. There is so much talent in this world, and I think we get too wrapped up in the fame of a person and not in the talent of a person. I knew Wayne Brady a long time, him and I came up together, him doing improv comedy and me beatboxing together in musicals. To see him win season 2, he would always say, "Talent first, just lead with talent." This world doesn't always let you do that, and The Masked Singer does.

Did your kids know you were going on The Masked Singer?

We got them watching the prior season with their grandparents, because my wife and I knew it was coming. We didn't want to make it a, "You have to watch this thing because Daddy's a part of it,” because we couldn't tell them. So they got really into the season before when Cow won, and they were ready for the new season. It took them about a day and a half to figure out that it was me under that mask. It took my mom three weeks to figure out it was me, but it took my kids 24 hours. I sing to my kids every night almost in bed. They know my voice I think better than anyone in this world. I think the clue that did it for my daughter was the spider on the mushroom in the very first clue package when I'm walking down the yellow brick road, because I had done the Scarlet Spider in a cartoon that she had seen, so she immediately knew, she said, "The spider. Dad, it's the spider, that's you. I know it's you."

<p>Amanda Matlovich/Netflix</p> Scott Porter and Brianne Howey on 'Ginny & Georgia'

Amanda Matlovich/Netflix

Scott Porter and Brianne Howey on 'Ginny & Georgia'

Did any of your Ginny & Georgia castmates recognize you?

No, not until the very last week. We were filming in a small town outside of Toronto on the week of the semifinal performances, and we were all in a hotel together because we had an early day the next day. When I showed up in the makeup trailer the next morning, a couple of the cast members were like, "We were flipping through the channels last night and ended up on Masked Singer." We've done karaoke nights on the show before, so a couple of them were looking at me going, "Did I recognize a voice last night?" I had to play it cool, but I think they were catching on towards the end.

How much do you know about what goes down in season 3?

We don't get all the scripts right away. We get them two at a time, we'll film two episodes at the same time in different blocks throughout the season. I know what happens in episodes one and two, but I don't know much beyond that. And as far as what's going to happen, we're still dealing with the aftermath the day after the arrest at the wedding of Paul and Georgia. So Paul is in the place that you can probably assume he is, trying to figure out what exactly is happening and what is next.

Somebody asked me last week, "How's Paul doing?" And I said, "Well, consider putting yourself in this situation. You get married, and during your first dance with your spouse, they get arrested. How do you think you're doing?" And that's what I love about our show, we do a lot of crazy stuff, we're way out of bounds on some things, but at its core, it deals with issues that so many people are familiar with, and we're able to ground it in so many different ways. I'm sure there's a lot of surprises in store, I don't know much more than outside of the first two episodes.

Related: The Masked Singer Ousts 1 Contestant After Being Deemed 'Perfection' on Queen Night

It sounds like they keep things pretty locked down.

We've reached a level now where we have code names on everything, there's watermarks everywhere, they take our scripts back at the table reads, everything is under lock and key. Netflix is serious about this. So I take it as just a huge compliment that we have to take all of these precautions, and I say “thank you” to the amazing fan base that has made the show everything that it is. We wouldn't be doing all of this if it wasn't for that incredible fan base. I've never been a part of a show like this.

Do you think Ginny’s dad Zion is permanently out of the picture in terms of pining after Georgia now that she’s married?

I think it's a love quadrangle, I mean, you got to include Joe in all of this. It's Georgia and her guys. At the end of the day what I love about this show is it hasn't really tried to build love triangles, it is just let characters exist. I have been on shows that have very forcefully created love triangles, and I have seen shows be successful at it, and I have seen shows fail at it. And I think the way that Ginny & Georgia is doing this is really interesting and really special, I think you're getting a strong feeling of who each of these men are that are all pining for Georgia. At the end of the day, I just want what's best for all of these characters, and I trust that whoever they end up with is where they should be. So we'll see what happens. But yeah, I wouldn't call it a love triangle. It's what? A love octagon, I don't know what's happening here.

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The Masked Singer season 11 is streaming now on Hulu.

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