Spring A&E Guide: āGleeā cast member Alex Newell heads to Charlotte for annual HRC Gala
Alex Newell, who plays āWade āUniqueā Adamsā on FOXās hit show āGleeā from creator Ryan Murphy, will be lighting up Charlotte audiences on Feb. 23 when he takes the stage at the annual Human Rights Campaign North Carolina Gala at the Charlotte Convention Center. qnotes got the opportunity to speak with Newell before his arrival in the Queen City and chatted about his high school days, his passion for music, his experience on āGleeā and his love for RuPaul and her āDrag Race.ā
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qnotes: Thanks for chatting today. Weāre all so excited about your upcoming visit to Charlotte. Have you ever been to North Carolina before?
Alex Newell: Iāve been through it. When I was younger, me and my mother would always drive through the east coast to go to Alabama where our family is. Weāve made stops there, but I was too young to remember.
Are you looking forward to coming to Charlotte? Have any plans while youāre in town?
Iām not going to be there that long, but I hope to squeeze in what I can.
How did your appearance at the HRC Gala come about? Are you excited about it?
Iāve gone to a lot of the HRC events. I go and sing at all the ones I get invited to. Iāve been to Chicago and San Diego and now Charlotte. Itās one of those things I hold near and dear to my heart. Whenever I get the opportunity, I never shoot it down. Itās something I always love to go and do.
High school is not that long in the past for youā¦
Iām 20 now, so just one year ago.
What was your experience like there? Were you out? Were you ever bullied?
I was bullied, in a sense. I was different and the school had never seen anything like me. When people see something different, they tend to shut down and they donāt know what to do about it. Iām just so different and have such a large personality and Iām always loud and if I have a problem, I say it. It was easy for people to pick out things to attack me with. But, in my sophomore year, I stopped letting it get to me. I sang a song at mass ā I went to a Catholic high school ā and I turned from the gay kid at school who was loud and obnoxious to the singer of our generation.
Iāve heard you played football in high school. Is that true?
Thatās not true, but I saw that, too (laughs).
Were you involved in any sports.
No, not at all. I donāt know what sports are. But, I did try out for Pop Warner when I was six, but they rejected me for some reason, even though they arenāt supposed to reject anyone.
Really, so music has always been your real passion?
It always has been.
You were accepted to Berklee, but decided to move to Los Angeles, instead?
Yes, I was accepted to Berklee School of Music. I was packing my bags and getting ready to go and I had made friends there already and then I got the phone call that I had to move out here. It was like a slap in the face, but I was like, āOh my God!ā
Is higher education still on your list of things to do?
Of course. Iāve always wanted to go to college and learn how to be better at what I know how to do already and be the best at it. I might go back and do something different now.
When you first went on āThe Glee Project,ā did you know what character you might be considered for?
Never. But, I always had a dream of a character I would play and it would be Mercedesā brother. But, never, there was never anything I had my mind set on or that I knew Ryan would think of.
When was it that you found out youād be playing Unique?
Oh my goodness. It was sometime in February of last year. I got a call and they didnāt tell me. They just said Iād be getting my script. But I didnāt find out until a couple nights later when I got the script and found out my character and was just beside myself and so excited.
Unique is a transgender character and as an actor you have to do some female impersonation when Unique is able to be herself on the show. Had you done female impersonation prior to joining the show?
Kind of yes and no. I played Motormouth Maybelle in āHairspray,ā but that was after āThe Glee Projectā and before āGlee.ā People think that I have [done drag] and they fight me down to the death saying that I have, but I had literally never done it. I do it sometimes now outside of my job only because I feel like itās kind of a learning experience. If I do go out and do it outside of my job, Iām practicing for when I do it at my job. Iāll walk around in high heels randomly just so when I go to work, Iām not falling down during a scene.
When you are able to appear as Unique at public events, do you think youāre able to send a positive message to young people who are transgender or who maybe donāt quite fit into the gender stereotypes of society?
I would hope so. I want people to know that it is okay to wear what you want as long as youāre being yourself. I can wear heels and still be Alex. It doesnāt matter what youāre wearing or not wearing, you can still be yourself. Thatās all I care about, is someone striving to be themselves.
Whatās your favorite song or performance that youāve been able to do on the show?
Thereās so many! I just did one and I absolutely loved it but I canāt talk about it. I want to say that āLocked Out of Heavenā was fun, but my all-time favorite was āBoogie Shoes,ā because it was my very first one and I hold it so near and dear to my heart.
Who is your favorite musical artist?
Oh, Beyonce. Hands down!
What did you think about her Super Bowl performance?
You know, thereās lots of controversy about some unflattering photos of Beyonce from the Super Bowl. Do you think reporters should just give it up and take the photos down?
Oh, theyāre always looking for something to make somone that perfect look bad. It doesnāt matter. Everyone already knows that sheās amazing and beautiful!
Who is your favorite character on the show?
Other than myself (laughs)?
Yes, other than yourself (laughs).
Oh my goodness. Iād really have to say Marley Rose because she has so much heart. Thereās not a person on the show who has that much heart and is that pure and genuine with everything they have to say.
āGleeā has broken many barriers, for example showing a same-sex teenage couple on TV. Will Unique get the opportunity to break through a barrier with a love interest or a crush?
I donāt know. Iām still asking that question myself. Itās going to happen one day. It will be unexpected for everyone and mainly it will be unexpected for me.
How do you think youāll prepare for the script?
I donāt know. Itās like how I prepare for any script I get. You just have to read it, look at it, take it in and swallow it and say, āLetās do it.ā
Youāll be starring in a new movie coming out soon, āGeography Club,ā based on the novel by Brent Hartinger. Can you tell us anything about your character Ike?
Itās this teenage boy who knows heās gay, but wants everyone else to think heās straight. Itās funny how he goes through the whole movie where heāll start out saying heās straight, but by the end of the movie heās 100 percent gay and everyone is like, āWe already know that,ā because heās so flambouyant and out there.
Are you in a relationship now? How does the so-called show biz affect relationships?
No, not at all. Iām not. Iāve watched everyone else on the show juggle, trying to have a relationship. Itās kind of hard to look if youāre single and itās even harder to keep a relationship on the show because youāre working so hard and long hours.
Since youāve moved to L.A., have you met any celebrities who are maybe among your favorites? People youāve always wanted to meet?
Oh my goodness, there are so many! I met Loretta Devine. I absolutely love her! Sofia Vergara was standing like 10 feet away from me at the SAG Awards and I like almost died. And, Anne Hathaway. And, I met Sarah Highland from āModern Family.ā Sheās really sweet. Thereās so many, especially at the SAG Awards.
Do you watch āRuPaulās Drag Raceā?
Always! āRuPaulās Drag Raceā is my show. Monday nights, if Iām not working, Iām right in front of the television watching it. I love RuPaul. I went to the all-star premiere for this last season. I feel for them because I know what it is like to work to look pretty and have someone say that you donāt look that pretty or have someone say they donāt like your outfit and Iām like I donāt like it worse and you just put me in it! I feel for them all the time and root for them because I know exactly how it is.
If you ever got the opportunity to be a guest star or make an appearance on āDrag Race,ā would you do it?
I would do it in a heartbeat! They couldnāt stop me. Iād be at the studio before they even told me what time Iād have to be there.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
If Iām not still on āGlee,ā I want to do Broadway. I want to do another film. Maybe another TV show. In five years, Iāll only be 25. : :
Ā ā Interview by Matt Comer. Questions & research by Kode Brown.