Alex Newell has always had two musical-theater dream roles — and after the recent, Tony-winning revival of “Once On This Island,” he’s already played one of them. Next stop: “Dreamgirls”?
Listen to this week’s “Stagecraft” podcast below:
“I think everyone wants me to do Effie,” said Newell, referring to the role in “Dreamgirls” that won Jennifer Hudson an Oscar. Speaking on the latest episode of Stagecraft, Variety’s theater podcast, he added, “And I do want to do Effie. I would love to do ‘Dreamgirls.’ I think that’s my next. It was always Asaka [from ‘Once On This Island’] and it was always Effie.”
In the meantime, the “Glee” actor is carving out a place for himself in the entertainment industry with roles like Mo, the gender-nonconforming character he plays on NBC series “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.” The role, originally written as a bisexual black woman, has been heavily influenced by Newell and his own personal story, especially in an episode that focused on the tension between Mo’s gender expression and his faith.
“It is something that little gay and genderqueer people and people that are normally different — I like to say ‘normally different,’ because just because we’re different, it doesn’t mean we’re not normal — go through,” he said. “They don’t get to see that [on TV] often.”
Newell went on to say that he’s made his way in Hollywood by holding onto a strong sense of himself.
“I’ve been called fat in a room, I’ve been called too gay, I’ve been called too black, too effeminate,” he said. “I’ve been called everything to my face, and none of that have I ever let affect me.”
Also on the new episode of Stagecraft, Newell talked about his work as a recording artist (including his recently released single), his affinity for Barbra Streisand and the lessons he learned from his Broadway run, which he said was both a dream come true and a lot of hard work.
“You have to realize all the tools that you have in your body to make this marathon,” he said.
New episodes of “Stagecraft” are available every Tuesday. Download and subscribe to Stagecraft on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and anywhere finer podcasts are dispensed. Find past episodes here and on Apple Podcasts.