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‘Glee’ actor to Obama: Don’t stress

The following biography is taken from http://voiceawards.gmcla.org/alex-newell-attending-and-performing-gmcla-voice-awards.

Over the last few years Alex Newell has gone from regular high school student, to landing a lead role in of one of the hottest series on television, putting him into the national limelight. Newell plays “Wade ‘Unique’ Adams” on Fox’s “Glee,” shining as shy, timid, outcast Wade, and his alter-ego Unique. Newell also recently filmed the independent feature “Geography Club,” (Huffington Pictures, Breaking Glass Pictures) released this month. 

A Massachusetts native, Newell notes that although his neighborhood was rough growing up, it was a melting pot of culture. He was exposed to dozens of different races, religions, and fine arts from a very young age, something that would help fine tune who he is today and what his career goals would be in the future. He found his love for music in church; his father was a deacon and his mother ran the choir. When Newell was six years old, his father passed away from cancer, and he took refuge in song. 

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However growing up with a single parent, Newell became a rebel child and as a result moved around to many different schools. By high school, Newell had landed at a private Catholic academy with an impeccable arts program. It was here that Newell decided he knew what he wanted in life: to be a Broadway star, and to be on stage. 

He surrounded himself with music, and dedicated much of his life to concert choir — which was a crash course on every type of music he could think of. He dabbled in opera, jazz, a capella, chamber, modern, and many other styles of music. In 2011, as a junior in high school, Newell decided to send in a self-taped audition to a brand new show on the Oxygen Network called “The Glee Project.” Newell’s audition not only garnered the attention of the show’s producers, but it also hit over one million hits on MySpace, where he had uploaded the video for consideration. Newell went on to compete on the show which was an instant hit, and finished second in the competition. His prize was a guest star role on an upcoming episode of “Glee,” and inclusion on the “Glee” holiday album. Newell learned from the show that perhaps his dreams of being on Broadway were not his only dreams, as his eyes were opened to the possibilities in television and in film. 

When not working, Newell loves to cook, shop, and has a passion for interior design. He also is a self- proclaimed YouTube addict. On the charity front, he supports the American Cancer Society, and is a role model and inspiration for LGBT teens worldwide. His personal goals include giving people motivation to be whoever they are, no matter how different, and to never change for anyone. 

 

Robin Bronk: If you had five minutes in the Oval Office with President Obama, what issue would you talk to him about?

Alex Newell: I would talk to him about his stance — personally, without all of the cameras and all of the other things around — on gay marriage. I know he’s said it, but I mean his personal one-on-one opinion about it — like what he would tell Michelle.

 

RB: If you had any question you could ask him, what would it be?

AN: I would ask him when he knew that he wanted to be president of the United States. I get a similar question a lot; [not about being president, but] when did I know that I wanted to become an actor, singer, or actress. I think it’s fun to go back and see that moment and that initial thought of everything that could change your life for better or for worse.

 

RB: If you were going to give the president one piece of advice, what would it be?

AN: To not stress out and know it’s not all that serious all the time. I know it is always serious most days, but I think what everyone needs to hear sometimes is, “everything is going to be ok.” There’s a lot of stress that comes with being president, and you have to think about everyone. There are millions of people that you have to think about, and anything you say or do, or even if you breathe the wrong way, it’s going to affect millions of people. Just take into account that you can only do your best, and that’s all we’re asking for.

 

RB: If you could take the president to a place anywhere in the world for one day, where would you take him?

AN: I’d probably take him to my aunt’s house. I find that when I’m there at home with my family, that’s the best place that I could ever come back to. There’s nothing but love and laughter. We get serious sometimes. There’s always a good home-cooked meal and all of that good stuff. You don’t want to take him anywhere that there are cameras around or anywhere that he always has to worry about what he says. Just a safe haven.

 

RB: If you were going to recommend a musician to the president, who would it be?

AN: He probably already listens to her, but Beyoncé, because she’s amazing!

 

RB: Let’s talk about “Geography Club.” Why did you do that movie?

AN: I did it because it was a script that I had read that really spoke to me. There are some scripts, even on the show, that I get which speak to me. “Geography Club” really spoke to me because it’s something real and true. I had a personal connection with it being that it was about being gay and coming out in high school. I came out, I don’t even remember because it was so long ago. And although I was always out, I came out “officially” my sophomore and junior years of high school. It’s kind of a battle; it’s a struggle that you have to deal with. It’s about self-worth and self-doubt, but you have to have enough confidence in yourself to come out. I think that’s what “Geography Club” is about; it’s about having self-worth and the self-respect to display it to the world.

 

RB: If you were going to give the president’s children a piece of advice, what would it be?

AN: It’s hard being a president’s child! For one thing, you don’t get to see your dad all the time; you get to see him at night, after school, and after the day is done. You have the inside scoop. I would say to them to enjoy it! I’m not a preacher’s kid, but I grew up with a lot of preachers’ kids, and it’s kind of the same thing. You always have to have that extra presence and stature. Take a moment and enjoy. You’re the president’s kids! Who else gets to say, “I am one of the first African-American president’s daughters?” No one is going to get to say that! Just be happy with that, and know that thought is always there.

 

RB: If you were going to make a case for the president to watch “Geography Club” with his family, why would you tell him to watch it?

AN: Because it’s something that he might not see every day. It’s something that he might actually have happen in his life one day, if one of his daughters was to come out. It’s one of those things where it’s like “here’s what’s going to happen in high school” or “these are things that they’re going to go through” or if they struggle in high school about it, or even in life.

 

RB: Why does “Geography Club” need to be, if you will, the “Glee” of the movies for kids? 

AN: It’s real. There’s nothing fake about it, and there’s nothing hyped up. It’s not a love story; it’s comedy. It’s comedy/dramedy. It’s a life lesson. It’s a movie that will resonate, and that’s why everyone should watch it.

 

RB: What is your biggest challenge in being an actor?

AN: The biggest challenge is always that thought of, am I doing this right? Am I doing that right? I grew up on the stage, so everything I have always known has been musical theater or plays. You don’t really get to have that initial reaction from the audience when you’re doing a film. You don’t know until you see a final cut of everything. I know that always is a struggle for me because I like that initial reaction from the audience; I like the applause! Another thing is not always having “that role” and being told “no” all the time. I am such a specific type of a character: I’m not your Morris Chestnut, I’m not your Gabrielle Union, I’m not skinny, and I’m not straight. It’s all of those different compilations of everything that most casting directors don’t want to see beyond because they know that you’re a name already. There are a lot of things you have to struggle with.

 

RB: What is your mantra in life? Do you have something that keeps you going?

AN: My motto in life is, in 50, 60 or 70 years, you should have no regrets about your life. You want to live your life to the fullest because we’re not promised everything.

 

Robin Bronk is CEO of The Creative Coalition — the leading national, nonprofit, nonpartisan public advocacy organization of the entertainment industry. Bronk is a frequent speaker on the role of the entertainment industry in public advocacy campaigns and represents The Creative Coalition and its legislative agenda before members of Congress and the White House. She produced the feature film “Poliwood,” airing on Showtime, and edited the recently published book Art & Soul. Bronk pens this weekly column with assistance from Risa Kotek.