While you’re belting out Beyonce and Akon in your shower, Jenna Ushkowitz is serenading millions of Americans with twists of popular songs on FOX’s newest musical hit show Glee.
Glee, 2010 Golden Globe® winner of Best Television Series – Comedy or Musical, tells the story of a high school Spanish teacher who takes over a glee club filled with outcasts. From the pregnant cheerleader to the overachieving misfit, the Gleeks get to shine with their powerful voices and dance moves.
Ushkowitz plays Tina Cohen-Chang, a punk-rock singer with blue hair streaks who dons a fake stutter to cope with her shyness. But unlike her quieter character on Glee, this 23-year-old Long Island native is very outgoing. “It’s fun to play the part because I’m so different from her. [But] I do pull from a shy place and I have insecurities like everyone else,” she said.
The starlet began acting at age 9 in the Broadway production of The King and I. From there, Ushkowitz appeared in commercials, television series and other Broadway shows. With the dream of pursuing performing arts, she attended Marymount Manhattan College for acting and musical theater. But college wasn’t really what she expected. “I had the worst first semester in the whole world,” she said. “I wasn’t making friends and didn’t fit in.”
She gave college another chance her second semester, and set an aggressive academic plan. “I went to my guidance counselor’s office and said, ‘I’m going to graduate in three years—let’s make this happen,’” she said.
Today, Ushkowitz relives her dorm days with Glee costars living down the hall. Upon arriving in L.A., some of the Gleeks moved into the same apartment complex. And when they’re not singing on set, they spend a lot of time together. “We bowl and go see movies and eat together. We especially like to sit in each others’ houses and share music on iTunes,” she said. Ushkowitz also spends her free time shopping with best friend Kevin McHale, who plays her on-show crush, Artie Abrams.
When she’s not being a Gleek, Ushkowitz enjoys the perks of her stardom with tours in Australia and singing for her beloved Yankees. “I never thought that every day I’d be waking up to a dream,” she said. “Fans have become so dedicated and attached…If I can go back and do theater one day, I will. But for now it’s all Glee.”
Look for Ushkowitz in new episodes starting April 13, with new music, guest stars (including Olivia Newton-John), and a full episode dedicated to Madonna. Or audition for Glee and join her on set!