A GoPride Interview

Alex Newell

Unique journey: Alex Newell on how his life has changed

Tue. June 17, 2014  by Michael J. Roberts

It has been fun every step along the way but it also has been a long journey.
Alex Newell
As the hit television show Glee is set to shoot its fifth and final season, 21-year-old Alex Newell discusses his incredible journey playing Wade "Unique" Adams and how it has changed his life and impacted the lives of many LGBTQ youth who are trying to find the truth in who they are. Alex will be performing at this year's Chicago Pride Fest on Sunday, June 22, 2014.

MJR: (Michael J. Roberts) What has the personal journey been like for you in the last few years as you have become so well known from your character of Unique Adams in Glee?

AN: (Alex Newell) It has been great. This all began really with my junior year in high school and what now would be my sophomore year in college. It has been fun every step along the way but it also has been a long journey.

MJR: How has fame changed you as a person?

AN: I hope it hasn't affected me as a person. Lets face it, how many people can say that they were in high school then got to be on a critically acclaimed, highly rated television show, so I'm sure I have changed somewhat. I get to sing, dance and go and have fun everyday. Not everybody gets that opportunity and I am living that dream.

MJR: You have become such a role model playing Unique for many young people. How has that responsibility impacted you in your everyday life?

AN: I can't think of it has a ‘responsibility' because your mind automatically thinks of it as a resentment and I don't resent anything about it. I look at it as an honor. "Responsibility" has a negative connotation to it, because if you start resenting something you will become un-genuine and when you become un-genuine people with stop believe in you and won't have any taste for the character your playing.

MJR: An actor's goal in any role is portray the truth. What is the truth of Unique that you try to embody every week on Glee?

AN: Be yourself! You have to know who you are. That way if anybody judges you or prejudges you, you are secure in knowing the truth of yourself. The other truth I bring to the role is the youthfulness and heart that goes along with a teenager trying to figure out who ‘Unique' is; and the joys and sorrow that comes along with exploring that truth.

MJR: What is the rehearsal period like for an episode of Glee?

AN: Crazy! It changes all time depending on the given episode and who is in it. It has been anywhere from a week to one day to learn a song and dance number. And even sometimes hours. But I love it and I love the cast.

MJR: What is the status of your solo album?

AN: I'm still working on it all the time, even with this tour going on. We just released a cover of a song for the album, which I didn't know what coming out until it came out!

MJR: What can your fans expect at the your Chicago Pride Fest concert?

AN: Something fun. It is hard not to do songs that were not on Glee as we have done over 600 songs on the show. No matter what song I would choose, there is a 90 percent chance its been done on Glee, so definitely some music the show. But it is fun to do the songs without the whole "production" aspect behind it. Then I joke around on stage for a bit, usually get lazy halfway through the set and do some audience sing a longs.

MJR: Finally, as you have become a mentor for so many people in the LGBTQ community, who is one of your mentors and what did he or she teach you?

AN: For the past four years it was my high school choral teacher who is amazing. He just came to one of my shows I did with the Boston Gay Men's Chorus. He is from Bulgaria and is name is Dr. Ivan Stiffinov. He would always say to me "You are a giant fish in a little tiny pond with all the fish underneath you, drowning, because your taking in all the water!" What he used to tell me was that you have to go to someplace where you are not the best. That way, you strive to be at your peak. If you go somewhere and you are at your peak, you will never grow as a person." Those are the words I have come to live by.

Alex Newell performs the North Stage at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 22. Chicago Pride Fest, which is organized by the Northalsted Business Alliance, runs June 21-22 on Halsted Street between Addison and Grace. A $10 donation is recommended. The Chicago Pride Parade is the following Sunday, June 29 at noon.

Chicago Pride Fest Schedules: Saturday, June 21 | Sunday, June 22

Interviews: Alex Newell | Betty WhoCarlito Olivero | Jennifer Hudson

Headliners: Alex Newell | Amber | Betty Who | Carlito Olivero | Catfight | Crush on the Radio | Girlband | Jennifer Hudson | Kaci Battaglia | Mya | Thelma Houston

ChicagoPride.com Pride Guide


Interviewed by Michael J. Roberts. Michael J. Roberts is theatre editor for the ChicagoPride.com covering Chicago's diverse arts and entertainment scene.