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D r e s s b y GUC CI

BORN THIS WAY
The son of a Filipino mother and an Irish-American father, Darren Criss has won the hearts of Glee fans with his portrayal of Blaine, a new character created for the hugely popular show’s second season
Photography: MITCHELL NGUYEN MCCORMACK Styling/Fashion Director: ASHLEY PHAN-WESTON
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“I think the brand that has become Glee has stepped up to the plate in the fact that it’s this big soapbox now. The issues and topics that Glee is talking about are important.”

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“THE ONE ExCITING THING ABOUT CELEBRITY is that you get to be in a position to do great things for the world,” says Darren Criss. “A lot of our favourite celebrities have given back to the community, and I hope I can do the same.” Darren is a 23-year-old actor, singer and songwriter who has made big waves since joining the cast of Glee, the hugely popular American television series. The handsome son of a Filipino mother and an IrishAmerican father has won the hearts of Glee fans—or Gleeks, as they like to be known—with his portrayal of Blaine, a new character created for the show’s second season. Popular though he has become in a few short months, Darren is not letting fame go to his head. “I got lucky,” he insists when asked how he won the part in the Fox blockbuster. Darren goes on: “I’ve always wanted to do theatre. I wanted to be a musician and a composer, have a band… everything. I’ve always wanted to be performing and creating. But I never wanted to be a star or a celebrity type. It’s never been something that’s interested me. People are like: ‘Come on, you don’t want to be famous?’ But honest to God, I never did and it’s really just incidental. “To me, fame is connected with a lifestyle that has certain goals—namely, creating great work. We all want to do something that we’re proud of doing, and that makes us feel good. I just happen to have found significance through this role of Blaine. But whether it’s manifested through music or acting, it doesn’t matter. I’m just lucky that I’ve landed something that’s important to me.” Playing Blaine is important to Darren because he has become part of a media phenomenon that, apart from its primary mission of creating some pretty terrific pop music, is not afraid to confront things that matter to its audience: relationships, sexuality, social issues. At the same time, Glee is a wholesome, optimistic and often funny family show that adults enjoy as much as teenagers. Darren Everett Criss was born on February 5, 1987. Originally from San Francisco, he was raised as a Roman Catholic. As a child, he played a variety of instruments, including the violin, guitar, piano, cello and mandolin. He played drums in a band with his

“I never wanted to be a star. People are like: ‘Come on, you don’t want to be famous?’ But honest to God, I never did and it’s really just incidental.”

brother, Chuck, until the latter moved to New York to develop his own music career. Darren made his professional stage debut at the age of 10, in a 1997 production of Fanny. The next year, he played Vito in a Richard Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim musical, Do I Hear a Waltz, followed by a role in Babes in Arms in 1999. He attended the University of Michigan, graduating in 2009 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Performance and Acting. He is a member of Team StarKid, formed by theatre students at the University of Michigan. Darren’s most popular role with Team StarKid was as Harry Potter in A Very Potter Musical, a video that went viral after being posted on YouTube. His latest EP, Human, is available for download from his Website. Darren joined the cast of Glee in “Never Been Kissed”, an episode that aired last November. As Blaine, an openly gay student from a rival school’s glee club, Darren became an instant Gleek hero and was named as a regular for seasons two and three Recalling how he got the part, he says: “That casting directors’ office for Glee is a very prominent one, and I’d got into other projects through them. They kept calling me in for parts, and actually, I’d gone in for Glee about two or there times before that, and Blaine was just another audition. But it was the first one where I gravitated towards the character to such an extent.” Did Darren have any reservations about playing a gay character? “That wasn’t even something on my radar,” says Blaine. “For me, I was reading a really great character and I was excited about it. “I feel comfortable with my sexuality, and I defy anyone who tries to weird me out with accusations or anything like that. Blaine’s sexuality didn’t even cross my mind as something that would be an issue. And I’ll add that I am no more an out gay teenager than Max Adler (the actor who plays Glee character Dave Karofsky) is a homophobic bully that plays football. We’re all serving the story. “I think the brand that has become Glee has stepped up to the plate in the fact that it’s this big soapbox now. The issues and topics that Glee is talking about are important. A lot of people in the cast and crew are aware of that and do their best to use this as a platform to reach out and help.”

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Groomer: JESSICA LIPAROTO Art Director: JENNIFER DE KLAVER, DE KLAVER DESIGN

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