Going "The Masked Singer" one better, Fox's new music competition "Alter Ego," premiering Wednesday at 9 p.m., pits 20 singers against each other as online avatars of their fantasy selves. Among them on the show's inaugural season is Glen Head's Samaera Hirsch, a 21-year-old business student at New Orleans' Tulane University.
"I'm actually home right now because we had to evacuate a little while ago because of [Hurricane] Ida," Hirsch says by phone. "I'm going back on Friday. I've just been kind of hopping around visiting friends."
Hosted by Rocsi Diaz, "Alter Ego" features as its judges seven-time Grammy Award winner Alanis Morissette; actor, singer and television personality Nick Lachey; Canadian producer, songwriter, singer and visual artist Grimes (née Claire Boucher); and seven-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter, producer and entrepreneur will.i.am (né William Adams).
Hirsch landed on the show through previous auditions for the NBC singing competition "The Voice." "One of the people from the casting company, I think I kind of resonated with him," she says, "and he remembered me and reached out to me personally a couple months after I auditioned and was, like, 'Hey, I have an opportunity. I think you'd be perfect for it. Let me know if you want to learn more.' And I was, like, 'Ooh, this sounds interesting.' "
The 20 contestants, each performing as computer-generated avatars, include Yonkers' Anthony Flammia, 34, whose alter ego is The Loverboy, and former New Yorker Erny Nunez, 17, now of Port Saint Lucie, Florida, whose alter ego is Bernie Burns. Hirsch's avatar, Misty Rose, takes its first name from her cat, and its last name is Hirsch's middle name.
"We had a little bit of input," says Hirsch of the avatar's look. "They asked me, 'What would you want your alter ego to be like?' And I said on the spot, 'Space-cowgirl energy.' And they did their best job emulating that. They tweaked certain things, like if I thought something looked a little off, I'd be, like, 'Can we maybe fix that a little bit?' "
Hirsch was born in New York City and raised in Glen Head. At 14, she sang the national anthem at a Stony Brook University men's basketball game at Island Credit Union Arena. That summer, after turning 15, she performed the anthem at the 2015 Hampton Classic Horse Show. A National Honor Society student at North Shore High School in Glen Head, she was a member of its Pulse Dance Team, and one of 21 North Shore students inducted in into the Tri-M Music Honor Society, an organization that helps reinforce through music such services as mentoring and tutoring.
Hirsch has released four singles on Spotify: "Lost Cause" and "Addicted" (both 2020) and "Dis Track" and "Falling" (both 2021).