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Even though the series finale of Smash airs Sunday, Megan Hilty will never forget the star-making experience.

“The show has changed my life in a million ways,” she tells me during Dr. Scholl’s Active Series Countdown To Summer Fitness event held at The Sports Center in Chelsea Piers in NY. “Getting to work with the people I’ve gotten to work with through the show, I’m so grateful. Folks on the creative team, the cast and the crew. I’ve made lifelong friends, like Katharine McPhee. “

OK! GALLERY: KATHARINE MCPHEE, MEGAN HILTY AND JENNIFER HUDSON FILM SCENES FOR SMASH IN NYC 

She continues, “I got to do things artistically that I’ve never done before. I’ve never played a real mean girl like this [laughs]. I behaved badly, and I got to sing, dance, put on amazing costumes and work with incredible people. It really has changed my life.”

The Broadway veteran, 32, who has starred in Wicked and 9 To 5: The Musical, compares and contrasts Smash to the actual theater world.

OK! GALLERY: KATHARINE MCPHEE AND MEGAN HILTY CELEBRATE AT THE PREMIERE OF SMASH

“It’s similar in some ways, but of course, we have to embellish a lot to make it a TV show,” she says. “There is very stiff competition, and very big personalities. What you didn’t quite see on Smash is there’s an awesome community in the Broadway world, too. You do these shows and you become a family, which, I would assume that if we’d gotten another season, they would’ve explored that.”

The Washington native finds that performing together—whether on Smash, on Broadway, after school or even at summer camp—helps form deep connections.

“There’s a level of intimacy that you develop with the people you perform with because you’re so vulnerable onstage,” she says. “You’re giving a piece of yourself when you’re out there, so inevitably you’re going to build incredible bonds with the people you’re doing it alongside.” 

OK! GALLERY: SEE PHOTOS OF KATHARINE MCPHEE, KELLIE PICKLER, CARRIE UNDERWOOD, TAYLOR SWIFT, MIRANDA LAMBERT AND MORE IN THE VALERIE GALLERY

What’s next?

“I’m not quite sure,” she says. “I just got released from my contract [laughs], and I’m trying to figure it out. I released an album, It Happens All The Time, so I’ll be promoting that, and I’m doing a workshop of a musical this summer. Who knows after that. I’m excited to find out myself.”

Catch the series finale of Smash, which airs Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.

What will you miss most about Smash? Tweet us @okmagazine.

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