Alex Newell first burst on the pop culture scene as one of the four finalists on the original season of Oxygen’s “The Glee Project,” where he impressed series creator Ryan Murphy enough to earn himself 1st a recurring and now principal role on Glee.
Alex has one of the most daring and complex roles on Glee as he plays the groundbreaking transgender character Wade “Unique” Adams. Wade Adams is an introverted, insecure high school boy, while Unique is his female personality wants to wear heels as she struts down the McKinley High hallway while belting out diva standards. Alex thrives in this complex role: he has great comedic timing, the perfect amount of sass, and vocals that can rival Jennifer Hudson’s.
We spoke to the singer and actor about how he relates to the character Unique, personal style and upcoming album with Atlantic Records. Check out his interview and images from his very 1st magazine cover shoot below!
Photography by: Ricky Middlesworth
Styling by: Josh Fargher . Hair Makeup by: Shelly Willis . Wigs by: Sussy Campos
Originally a runner up on Oxygen’s The Glee Project; you became the real winner as you are now a series regular on Glee. How does it feel to be the last man standing? What has that journey been like?
It has been so great. Who can say that they went from a high school student, being told they were only going to be in two episodes on a hit television series, and then become a series regular? It is a dream come true.
“Unique” is the first transgender teen character on mainstream television, how does it feel to be apart of this new age of diverse representation?
It is nice to know that you can affect people on a larger spectrum, especially when they don’t have as large of a platform to be heard, as I have been given. It is such a poignant and pivotal role, that only comes once in a lifetime, and I am extremely blessed to have portrayed it.
What kind of research did you do to prepare for playing a transgender character?
I have done lots of hands on research, talked to people who are transgender, I have read all about it. I am trying to keep it natural, without overanalyzing it in order to keep it real, as opposed to feeling like I am just stating facts.
What has been your favorite performance on Glee? Mine would have to be The Bitch Is Back/Dress You Up mashup with Blake Jenner.
One of my favorites would have to be “If I Were A Boy.” I was able to show so much emotion and it brought up a serious issue, that transgender teens have to go through in high school; it is also one of the best arrangements of that song that I have ever heard. It was awesome to have the chance to perform it.
What would be the most complex part of working on Glee? The choreography, recording, line retention?
The most complex part would probably be the schedule. When you think about it, the schedule is the thing that keeps the show going. There is so much you have to do and learn in a very short period of time. The singing, choreography, recording of the songs, it is all rigorous.
It was announced that Glee will end after next season. Do you think it will be possible to snag another role as comfortable for you as this one?
I would love to snag another role in television, absolutely. Acting is what I love to do, but I don’t know if it will be another transgender role. It is always good to try new things.
You recently shared the stage with legendary vocalist Martha Wash at New York AIDS Walk 2013. Martha sang with the iconic androgynous performer Sylvester. Did she have any words of encouragement?
She gave me a standing ovation, which was worth so much more than words.
RuPaul has noted his indifference towards the gender-specific pronouns as he has said: “You can call me he. You can call me she. You can call me Regis and Kathie Lee; I don’t care! Just as long as you call me.” How do you relate to this? Do you associate yourself with any labels?
I agree 100% with RuPaul. As long as you know me for who I am, that is all that matters at the end of the day. We as people are more than our gender, we have to remember that at the end of the day. We are all human beings and we all have feelings.
How would you define your personal style? Any favorite designers or influences?
My style is fabulous! I love to always try new things… unexpected and different on the red carpet and just have fun!
Favorite drag movie?
My favorite drag movie has to be Too Wong Fu.
You are among the young stars in “Geography Club,” an adaptation of Brent Hartinger’s popular novel of the same name. What was the experience like being in a non musical role?
“Geography Club” was a lot of fun. It was very different, it was like a little vacation from singing and dancing everyday.
In October, it was announced that you had been signed by both Atlantic Records and Deep Well Records; and will release your first studio album. How did this come about, what kind of sound can we expect from an Alex Newell record?
We’re still trying to figure out the sound; pretty much everything is still in the works. We started working on this deal before we started filming the 5th season of Glee, the chairman of Atlantic Records came to me and asked me what kind of music I wanted to make… I am so excited and feel so blessed to have the opportunity to make my own music and with such a great label. I don’t have an exact date on when it will be released, but hopefully we will have more news on this soon.