Glee: Meet Melissa Benoist — The New Rachel

With Rachel Berry off to follow her dreams in New York City, a new ingenue of the McKinley High choir room emerged on Thursday night’s “Glee” Season 4 premiere – Marley Rose — played by Melissa Benoist.

It’s the first big break for the actress, who originally hails from Denver, Colo., and she was introduced in a big, big way when the show pitted her up in a near-duet on Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” with Rachel (Lea Michele), who was singing the same song at NYADA.

“[It’s] an honor,” Melissa told’s Laura Saltman on Wednesday of doing the tune – Marley’s New Directions audition number. “It’s such a classic, iconic song and never in my dreams did I think that, that was going to be my entrance to the show and it’s amazing.”

Before “Glee,” Melissa’s TV career included single episodes of “The Good Wife,” “Law & Order: SVU” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” and two episodes of Showtime’s “Homeland,” all the result of applying her talents in New York City. But being on the FOX show is something else entirely.

“[I’m going through] a melting pot of kind of every emotion,” Melissa said. “You work for so long and when it finally comes to [fruition], it’s kind of almost like a dream, so I’m just going day by day.”

With her sparkling “Glee” debut now behind her, expect the budding New Directions member to bloom.

“I think that you’re definitely going to be able to see Marley break out of her shell and blossom,” the actress revealed. “I think she’s a girl that doesn’t really quite know exactly who she is yet. A bit of a wallflower, and I think she’s going to make some changes.”

And one of those changes will definitely include some romance.

“Isn’t there always?” she laughed.

“Glee” returns next Thursday at 9/8c on FOX.

-- Jolie Lash

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