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West grad to compete in NBC's new singing reality show

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By Renee Sloan

Staff Writer

A young man from Ash is living out in Los Angeles, hoping for his big break—and he just may have found it.

Jesse Mayo, a 2010 graduate of West Brunswick High School, will be featured on NBC’s new singing reality show “The Winner Is.”

A preview of the show will air Monday, June 10, just after the “The Voice.”

According to a press release on NBC’s website, contestants will compete in head-to-head singing duels and advance based on their performances. The singer who remains after the elimination rounds will be named the winner and receive $1 million.

Shelley Mayo, Jesse’s mother, said the family is excited for Jesse, and family members plan to watch the premiere Monday to see if they see Jesse.

“We’re not event 100 percent sure if he’s going to be on the show, but he thinks he is,” Shelley said.

While the audience may be a little larger this time, Jesse is used to performing on a stage. In high school, he participated in the theater program at West and was the lead in the school’s production of “High School Musical.” Jesse also participated in the show choir and started a men’s a cappella group.

After graduation, he attended UNC Greensboro for two years.

“He made the dean’s list his last semester,” Shelley said.

After his second year of college, Jesse went to visit one of his mother’s friends in Los Angeles. That summer visit extended as Jesse began finding work.

“He never really planned to go out there, but it just started working for him,” Shelley said. “He just kind of fell in love with the whole scene.”

Mayo has picked up a few jobs working as an extra and has played a few gigs at The Viper Room and House of Blues.

He also works full time at a smoothie shop in a Hollywood-area gym, which has led to him brushing elbows with celebrities. His celebrity sightings include Jack Black, Amanda Bynes, Trey Songz, Rasheeda Jones, Vanessa Hudgens and Robin Thicke.

He also had the experience of waiting on Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler.

“I made his juice,” Jesse said. “He got some kale, spinach and apple thing.”

Though he may see glamorous people, Jesse’s life is not glamorous. He is currently couch-surfing with a friend he met in Los Angeles.

“He’s just working hard for what he wants,” Shelley said.

While filming has wrapped for “The Winner Is,” Jesse and Shelley are not saying how the scenario plays out, and according to Shelley, it’s not as hard as one might think.

“It’s easy (not to reveal the outcome) because they slap a fine on you that’s just outrageous,” she said. “So that makes it easier.”

Jesse also said he can say little about his experience.

“I get emails every day telling me what I can’t say, so I’m a little scared,” he said. “The fine is like $100,000.”

But Jesse can say how much he enjoyed the experience.

“It was a lot of fun,” he said. “Because it was a new show, and they were working out the kinks, we got to spend a lot of time on set just hanging out.”

He also said show producers flew his parents and sister out so they could share in the experience.

“They put us all up in a hotel and we all got to hang out and see what it was about. It was just awesome.”

The preview episode airs on June 10, and the first episode of the show will air in July.