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June 13, 2024 50 mins

He lit up the small screen as Kurt Hummel in the mega-hit show "Glee," and now he's lighting up the literary world with his diverse young adult novels!

Actor, singer, and best-selling author Chris Colfer joins Sophia to talk about the grueling and challenging process of being on Glee, what terrified him about playing Kurt, and his struggles with perfectionism. He shares how writing became his escape, and how it kept him sane throughout his time on Glee!

Chris also reveals he would love to tackle Broadway someday, offers advice for those who want to break into the industry, and discusses the inspiration behind his new sci-fi book, "Roswell Johnson Saves the World!" available in bookstores now!

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Hi everyone, it's Sophia. Welcome to work in progress. Hello
whip smarties. Today we are joined by an absolutely brilliant actor, singer,

and yes author. Today's guest is none other than Chris Colfer.
I came to absolutely love Chris playing Kurt on the
critically acclaimed TV show Glee. He won many an award
for that series, and somehow, while he was managing to
learn all of that choreography record albums travel the world

on a global tour, he also started writing books for kids.
He has written the best selling series The Land of Stories,
a series of YA books that started with the Land
of Stories The Wishing Spell.

Speaker 2 (00:56):
His latest book is.

Speaker 1 (00:58):
Called Roswell Johnson Saves the World, and it is actually
his twentieth Yes to Zero twentieth book. Eleven year old
Roswell Johnson is obsessed with conspiracies about extraterrestrial life, an
interest he inherited from his late father, who actually named
Roswell after the infamous UFO crash in Roswelt, New Mexico.

In this book, Roswell is accidentally abducted by aliens, so
he gets to learn their real but also learns the
Earth is in grave danger and he might just have
to figure out how to save it. I can't wait
to talk to Chris about his career and how he
wound up writing the coolest kids books ever, let's get
to it.

Speaker 2 (01:51):
Hi, Hello cutie. So what's happening in New York? What's
going on?

Speaker 3 (01:56):
Well, I'm here promoting my new book you Bom. I
literally just walked through the door. I did the View
this morning, and I'm doing Seth Myers later today. So
one of those crazy rowin Yeah, press weeks, as I
know you're very familiar with totally.

Speaker 1 (02:15):
But what an interesting thing, you know, because you've done
this incredible circuit. You know, you've had this like unbelievable career.
I mean, my god, Like, I know none of you
had a clue what Glee was going to be when
you were like auditioning for it, and then bam, you
know you're like all over the world and winning Emmys
and like doing all the things.

Speaker 2 (02:35):
Is it is it sort of.

Speaker 1 (02:37):
Surreal to be in the promotion universe for your writing
or are you sort of like, oh, I'm old hat
at this because you've already released a book.

Speaker 3 (02:48):
You know, I feel like because I've released so many books,
that is kind of old hat.

Speaker 1 (02:53):
Now, yeah, did I just say a book. I'm like
so many books. This is your twentieth book. Did I
read that correctly?

Speaker 3 (03:01):
Oh my god, I know that really snack up on me.
I thought they were joking until I counted them myself
and I was like, oh, yeah, I guess, I guess
the R twenty. But uh, I still get just as
nervous as I as I as I I did when
the first book came out. Really oh yeah. So socially
the press stuff, I feel like I can handle better

now that I'm a little older. It's not quite as
terrifying as it used to be. Uh But uh yeah,
but no, I mean I because I just want people
to to like the book so much that I that
I still I still get nervous every single release.

Speaker 1 (03:39):
Okay, I'm so curious about that because it's funny. On
the on the other podcast, the Girls and I just
watched our season six finale and that was Hillary's last episode,
and we were talking about how interesting it is when
you see this wish fulfillment for these people that you
played for so long, how meaningful it is because we

love them, like we sort of feel like our characters
are our sisters or something, and right, and I think
about what it is to be with someone for that
long and how you guys got to do the same
thing on Glee. You you embody someone. You you understand
their motivations and their fears and all of these things.

And that's just playing one character. That's not even creating
the whole universe. So would you say that doing that
as an author and and building out these worlds for
these characters that you love and that you want to
see succeed and you know, achieve goals, dreams, et cetera, Like,
do they feel like your family in a way?

Speaker 3 (04:42):
Absolutely? I think you described it perfectly, where playing a
character is very much like having a sibling you know,
you really really want you know, it's it's like a symbiosis,
as simbling symbiosis. And in a way, I would say when
you write a book and it's filled characters, they're like
your children. So it's more of experience where it's like

you you want to protect them and yet exploit them
at the same time.

Speaker 1 (05:10):
Well totally, you're like, I have to do this really
scary thing to you because it'll be so.

Speaker 2 (05:14):
Good for the drama. On page sixty four.

Speaker 3 (05:16):
Right right. Yeah. It's also because because you know, when
you write something and you write every word, it does
kind of feel like you're exposing your soul a little bit,
and that part itself can be can be nerve wracking
because I guess my biggest fear is people are going
to find out how illiterate I actually really am.

Speaker 1 (05:35):
Right, Okay, wait, so this is actually really interesting because
I've just jumped into questions with you that go very
out of order. I'm sure my producers are like, what
is she doing?

Speaker 3 (05:46):
Oh good, raging ADHD So I me too, wonderful.

Speaker 1 (05:51):
Yeah, halfway through this interview I'll be like, oh my god,
there's a part outside. But this is really interesting to
me because you're you're actually in this series of books
that are for young people, and I love God.

Speaker 2 (06:05):
I love a kid hero.

Speaker 1 (06:07):
And it makes me curious because for you, as a storyteller,
I wonder if you look back at your own childhood,
like do you see the through line always of wanting
to be an actor, a performer, a writer or were
you were you a totally different kid and and you
found your passion for storytelling somehow, like like do you

do you see it all?

Speaker 3 (06:31):
So when I was young, I think writing and acting
bit me at the same time. And when I was younger,
I didn't know the difference because they're both to me,
just they're both different versions of playing pretend. So it
wasn't until I got older when I realized what, you know,
what the difference of both of them was, and you know,

the the very unique art behind them both. So for me,
it's always been the same thing, and I actually, really
to this day it feels like the same thing because
it's all just a matter of storytelling. I think when
I was when I was the middle grade audience eight twelve,
and I think when I was that age, books had
such a significant profound effect on me. They were my

very very first means of escapism that I knew then
that I that I wanted to contribute to that world.
It's still my favorite world to to contribute to.

Speaker 1 (07:28):
That's so cool. And And was the escapism for you
as a kid, like rooted in excitement and curiosity? Was
it was? It was? It rooted in I don't want
to view where I am? Was it maybe like a
little bit of a mix of both, a.

Speaker 3 (07:46):
Lot to both. Yeah, Yeah, So I was, you know,
slowly discovering that I was gay in a very very
conservative environment, which was not fun. I also had a
sibling who had extremely at an extreme case of epilepsy
where she had fifty seizures an hour, so it was
really tough on the family. And I remember just being

so frustrated with the world at a very young age.
And so anytime I got my hands on a story
about kids, you know, going to going through a wardrobe
or you know, getting a letter from an owl or
falling down a rabbit hole, I just I couldn't get
enough of it because I wanted that so desperately, and
I think to this to this day, I'm still I'm

still really frustrated that none of that ever actually happened
for me. Yeah, me too, And so I'm like, I'm
trying to almost make that a reality by producing fiction.

Speaker 2 (08:38):
I love that.

Speaker 1 (08:39):
And what a cool thing that, in a way you
get to help create more of what gave you an
outlet as a kid.

Speaker 3 (08:47):
I hope. So, yeah, there's there's a there's a really
a therapeutic quality with that, with you know, creating what
you so desperately wanted as a kid. Yeah, I definitely
have some some therapeutic qualities with.

Speaker 1 (08:59):
That is that where it starts, like when you think about,
you know, one of these twenty books that you've written
in your latest book, do you do you sort of
imagine a scene first and then build the world, or
do you get inspired about a world and then build
all of the scenes.

Speaker 3 (09:21):
So my first series of Land of Stories, it really
they were my imaginary best friends when I was a kid,
and the books are just the ventures that I wanted
to go on when I was a kid. And I
think that's one of the reasons why kids have responded
so positively to them, is because it's really a story
created by a kid or kids. Now, I'm very, very

lucky because whenever I start writing something, I see it
in my head almost like a movie trailer, and then
I outline it and try to piece the images that
I that I see together and create a story out
of those. And that's that's just always, that's always how
stories have come to me, kind of almost like lightning,
just in my head. I just you know, I think

about like the kind of story I want to tell
and the message I want to send, and then and
it's it's kind of magical. And then and then image
just bow my head instantly and then and then I
go from there. So yeah, and I'm very grateful to
that whatever that is, and I hope it never goes away.

Speaker 1 (10:21):
That's so cool. It's like, did you ever read that
book The War of Art? No, it's so cool. It
was done by an artist who had read you know,
the classic Sunsu Art of War and was like, yeah,
but what we go through as artists is different, like you, yes,
there's meditation required and training and all of these things,

but it's it's a it's like a war with self.
And he talks about how if you really, you know,
create a cadence to make space for your art, it
can begin to come through you. And it sounds like
you have that like like these stories come through you
and you you're like molding this clay. It's so cool.

Speaker 3 (11:02):
Oh thanks, Yeah, No, that's a that's a really interesting, uh,
really interesting with with with they put that. And I
think even now, like I'm I'm still struggling with with
ways of like taking care of myself and recognizing that
in order in order to write and to create, your

brain is just wired differently than than a lot of
people and finding healthy habits and and and uh, ways
to just just you know, take care of yourself. I
think I'm still I'm still struggling with to this day.

Speaker 1 (11:37):
Yeah, oh my gosh, I do too. And I think
that's such an ADHD thing as well. Like someone explained
to me recently that the people whose brains are wired
quote normally or neurotypically, you can imagine a row of
building blocks set out in front of you and you
go block by block. And for people like us whose

brains are wired in this special way where like we're
constantly inspired, great for artists, but also hard to go
through it to do list. The blocks don't extend in
front of you. They're vertical, so it's a stack, and
it's really overwhelming to try to figure out which one
to deal with first because they're all equally close and
they're insummation really big and kind of overwhelming. And I

was like, oh, yeah, that tracks really really interestingly. So
it's so inspiring to me to hear you talk about
not just the way that you're creative, but to see
how creative you've been in like, in hard fact, there
are twenty books and I'm like.

Speaker 2 (12:41):
Wow, how did you do that?

Speaker 1 (12:42):
Because I've got posted notes and you know, everywhere of
like I'm going to do this project eventually and that
project eventually, And there's you know, fifty six begun but
not finished projects in my home. So I'm really like, oh, okay,
you're figuring out habits and like, I guess modalities of
making that are working for you.

Speaker 4 (13:02):

Speaker 3 (13:02):
Absolutely, And it's funny. It takes so much self discipline
to sit down and write a book that I have
noticed I have no form of self discipline and any
other asset aspect of my life what like like diet sucks,
exercising sucks. We habits suck. But I kind of use

all all the self discipline that I'm capable of in
in writing and then and then everything else just kind
of uh, is this kind of a mess.

Speaker 1 (13:33):
Yeah, wow, that's so interesting. How do you think you
figured out how to create that discipline? Like for folks
at home that are like, oh my god, I'm the same.
Are there are there tricks to it? Are there like
two or three things you'd say, Oh, if you're trying
to create a routine of discipline to write or whatever
it might be, these things worked for me.

Speaker 3 (13:56):
Oh gosh, you know, it's interest because life is so
ever changing that I've never really had the opportunity to
actually come up with one, like one method that that works.
I really think it just it depends on where you

are in your life and what you're going through at
the time, and it changes, like I think my writing
process changes constantly depending on how much is going on
at the time. And I think you just have to
really really focus on how badly you want to finish it,
you know. I think you have to visualize the finished
book in your hands and what you know, and visualize

the people who who that story or that book could help.
That That always helps me is envisioning the people that
the story could benefit a lot. But you really you
have to take it day by day, and you have
you not be so hard on yourself, you know, just
have to have self discipline, but no be so hard
on yourself.

Speaker 1 (15:02):
Yeah, I think that's really good advice. And I think
the idea of focusing on the finished thing, like if
you continue to remind yourself that there is actually an
end goal, there will be a thing you can hold
in your hand, whether it's literal or metaphorical, that's a
great that's a great reminder because then it's not so amorphous.

Speaker 3 (15:23):
And also just the that the finished product. Don't just
celebrate the finished product, like have little celebrations along the way,
like if you finish a chapter, treat yourself as you know,
relish in the fact that you finish a chapter, because
even if you just finish a chapter, you're still finishing
more than most people can't.

Speaker 1 (15:40):
Yeah. I love that. Celebrate the wins and focus on
the goals. It's like a both and which is really
our job as actors too, you know. And it's it's
funny when you talk about the you know, the shifts,
and what I think I am hearing you talk about
is something that I am really conscious of lately, which
is that doing what we do as a day job,

it's virtually impossible to have a routine, Yeah, because sometimes
you're on night shoots and sometimes you're on splits, and
sometimes you're going to work at four in the morning,
and everything is by nature. You have to not be
rattled by the fact that you can't make any plans
or have any expectations about time.

Speaker 2 (16:17):
So then when you're not on a set.

Speaker 1 (16:19):
If it's hiatus or you're between shows or whatever it
might be, suddenly everyone's like, well, why don't you have
a routine And you're like, because I can't, and I
can't be attached to one, And it's a really it's
something I've definitely had to wrap my head around, and
I'm trying to practice some of what you're talking about,

which is not being so self critical about it, but
looking at the ability to be so flexible and present
as a little more of a superpower than a hindrance.
I think about it too, like when you start on
TV so young. You know, we had been twenty one
for I don't know, eight days when we started filming

Season one on One Tree Hill, and you were you
guys started in two thousand and nine, you know, the
early aughts. We like such a moment. What was that
like for you as as not the author artist but
the actor artist. What was that sort of time like
the audition process and the whole rigamarole of it. Was

it exciting? Was it terrifying? Was it both?

Speaker 3 (17:27):
Yeah, It's funny you touched on something a second ago
that really made me think. Ever since Glee ended, I've
kind of been like a schedule nomad because it's been
I think it's been eight or so years since since
Lee ended, and I saw ten years like I can't.
I don't. I'm not sure time is much. You know,

time goes I know, time really goes by when you're
you know, having fun, I guess. But I still haven't
been able to develop like a routine in my personal
life because I had I spent a decade not having
any freedom soever. So that's that's so interesting you said that,
just that that just clicked for me. But yeah, I know,
it was a very the beginning of Lee was a

very grueling process. We I think we each had four auditions.
We had casting director, callbacks, network, and studio all in
all in a row. We had to sing and and
and and act in those auditions. It wasn't until we
all showed up for the first day of singing rehearsal

for the pilot that we realized that you have to
dance and show choir. And none of us had ever
danced before, and so that was a complete shock to
us and to our bodies because it wasn't even part
It was never part of the audition process and and
it was never written into the script. And when I
think of show choir, I think of like Sister Act two,
where where they they you know, the kind of step touch,

step touch, but it's really focused on on the singing part.
So having these so having to learn these huge choreographs
sequences was just so foreign to to most of us.
A few of us had been on Broadway and we're
you know, we're used to it, but for the most part,
it was like the first time any of us had
ever had to dance like that. So and I remember

when we uh the main song we did in the
pilot was Don't Stop Believing, and we had to learn
like I want to say, six or seven versions of
that song because because the producers just weren't happy with it,
and so so that was that was a really it
was it was it was a culture shock on many, many,
many levels. And then when we got into the filming,

you know, just just just the amount of material that
we had to learn, like like like just nothing, the
lyrics of the song, the vocal, the vocals of the song,
the dancing, the dance, the movement, the the the the
the dialogue. That it was just it was crazy. And
then and then and then it's like we never had
that like the yeah, we did it because as soon

as another episode. So it's like creating a new Broadway
show every single week.

Speaker 1 (20:04):
Oh my goodness, and now for our sponsors, it's so interesting,
Like the technical stuff you're referring to, I think so
many people just don't know about. You know, audiences get
to see this perfect hour of television that's edited in color,

timed and the music is synced beautifully, and you know,
the montages are gorgeous, and you're just like I nearly
died that week.

Speaker 2 (20:34):
You know, nobody knows.

Speaker 1 (20:35):
That you are on like our eighteen in a sound
stage with broken air conditioning, like trying not to pass out.

Speaker 3 (20:42):
They never see like the of the costumers having to
to hair like with a hair dryer, like like dry
out our like our pit stains.

Speaker 1 (20:49):
Yeah, oh my gosh, you've shared something, because you know,
obviously I love to do my homework. And I read
that you talked about how you know your your creator
and writing team on that show would sometimes write real
stories from your life into the show. And we had
that too, And I realize, I don't know if that

is so common in shows that are you know, about
post school adults, but it does seem to be a
thing that happens a lot when you're making a show
about high school. Was that was that weird for you
guys or for you or or was it sort of
special to be able to portray things that felt really

truly important to your own kind of life and journey.

Speaker 3 (21:41):
It was really fun, uh, First, because it meant that
I got for me. It meant I got to do
something on the show that I didn't get to do
in real life. The one that the instance that comes
to me right off the top of my head is
I actually I wanted to sing define Gravity so badly
in my school talent show when I was in high school,

and I was told, no, you're a boy, you can't
sing that song. And I was like, but I can
sing it. I actually physically can sing and they said, no,
it's a woman song, you're not singing it. And so
I told that to the producers and they wrote that
storyline into the show and so I actually got to
sing the song. So that that was That was a blast.
That was that was fun. But what I didn't realize

was when the audience found out that a lot of
these experiences that they were watching were autobiographical of us,
the separation between actor and character became non existent, and
that was that was probably The most challenging part of
Glee was having this huge having millions and millions and

millions of people think you were someone that you were not,
and and not recognizing that you were you were a
good actor that they just thought you were that person,
and having things from our own lives on show didn't
help establish that separation.

Speaker 1 (23:04):
Yeah, I know that. Intimately, it's such a weird thing
because it is kind of a double edged sort. You
get to do these really special things, and then also
there is an assumption that one hundred percent of who
you are on screen is one hundred percent of you,
and it's so fractional. Even if you are recreating a

version of something that's happened to you in your real life,
what's on screen will always be such a small case
of like a full human experience. And so, yeah, I
know that feeling, and I don't know, looking back on
it on my show, I realize how I don't.

Speaker 2 (23:45):
Know I felt. You know, I just turned twenty one.
I was like, listen, I'm a legal drinking age. Look
at me out here. I'm a young adult.

Speaker 3 (23:52):
And I look back.

Speaker 1 (23:53):
Down, I'm like, oh my god, I was a baby. Yeah,
Like I was still such a little kid trying to
call play as a grown up. You were nineteen when
the show started, and I think every year when you're
a teenager into your early twenties is like five years
when you're you know, forty. Was it surreal for you?

Did you feel like you had to pretend to be
more grown up or expert than you were?

Speaker 3 (24:25):
Absolutely, I mean, like our friendsal Lobes weren't fully developed yet. Yeah,
and you know, like you said, cosplaying as an adult,
it's a great way to put it. And I remember
I really should have had a parent or someone with
me during during that too, a lot of that, and
I didn't because I, you know, in my eighteen year

old logic was like, no, I want to be taken seriously,
and no one will take it seriously if I have
a mom or a dad hanging out with me. And
I really wish I did, because I think income I
would have handled and processed things a lot easier if
I had someone with a little more maturity with me
at all times.

Speaker 1 (25:08):
Totally. I think about it, especially with shows like ours
that were set in high schools, and I'm like, high
schools have guidance counselors. Why isn't there. You know, now
we're finally at this moment where we're talking about intimacy
coordinators and more professional practice on set with regards to
how we feel in our physical bodies. But I'm like,

what about like our our mental health. Yeah, Like I
wish that TV shows that were surrounding high school and
that had such young actors on them had to have
a version of a of a real life guidance counselor
on set.

Speaker 3 (25:42):
Absolutely, yeah, I feel like I think they do that
for for like some some reality competition shows. Really Okay,
I believe I read someone where like the American Idol
Kids and and like the Voice contestants, like they have
like people to help them go from you know, obscurity
to sensationalism overnight. But yeah, we didn't. I guess because

it's scripted, they didn't think we needed it. But I do.
I really think that's a great idea.

Speaker 5 (26:08):

Speaker 1 (26:08):
I think it would be so cool just to have
somebody help you make sense of things.

Speaker 3 (26:13):
Yeah. I think I think everyone, every child star, teenage
star absolutely should have a therapist. Even if you are
very very well adjusted and you have a great support system,
it's so good just to go and you have to
go look under the hood every now and then.

Speaker 1 (26:29):
Yeah, it's interesting. You know, when we talk about how
hard it is to have a routine, I think the
inability to do so when you're working on TV is
what made me always sort of put therapy on the
back burner, like I dip in and then I dip out.

Speaker 2 (26:44):
Work would be busy, I'd be like, oh, I just.

Speaker 1 (26:45):
Don't have time. And it for the last couple of years,
like truly the last two years straight. It is a
non negotiable, like Tuesday at nine am is my time.
It's my hour and when I have to be on set.
Luckily the professional that I work with now we have
like a flexibility system, but it is it's just like

once a week I have that hour. It's my thing,
and it is wild to be like wow, it took
me almost until my forties to like take it seriously enough.
It would have been really great to have had in
my early twenties for sure.

Speaker 3 (27:21):
And I don't understand people who don't believe in therapy.
I mean, like I love it, like like you just
you get an hour where you just get to talk
about yourself NonStop and they can't leave. I mean it's great.
I mean, who wouldn't want that?

Speaker 1 (27:35):
Well, it's also like we've gotten so good about understanding
whether we actually do it or not. You know, you
need to take care of yourself. Your physical body needs
to move, like your brain needs care too. An hour
a week to take care of your brain actually doesn't
feel like that much when you think about it that way.
So I'm with you, I'm all in. Did you start

any kind of like mental health care practice toward the
end of Glee or did it take you until that
was like fully done to begin to create that space
for yourself?

Speaker 3 (28:09):
You know it was really Unfortunately I wish I wish
I had started it right off the bat. It was
when I first started getting death threats that I started
going in, But unfortunately took that for me to realize, Oh,
I can't handle everything you said I was. I was.
I was eighteen when when the show started, and and I,
as an eighteen year old, thought thought I thought I
knew everything, thought I could handle everything that I thought

I was. You know, thought I was, And I mean,
to my credit, I was. I've always been very I've
always been an old soul. But even old souls can't
handle everything especially things that are completely foreign to them.
So I wish I had started much earlier, but I
did start, and once I started, it was it was
it was a major, major help.

Speaker 1 (28:51):
That's really great. I'm glad to hear that it is.
It is very strange, and having been through versions of
that myself, like it took me a while to understand
that unless it's happened to you, you just can't understand
how traumatic it is, and that no matter what happens
in your career, you don't change. You remain one person.

But what's on the other end of the funnel continues
to grow and grow and grow. And there are wonderful
parts of that, like look at this career you have
as an author and all this other exciting work you
get to do. But to be on the receiving end
of the energy of millions and millions of people when
sometimes there's a large section of those people that are

you know, violent or scary. You're like the people who
read my books and want to talk about like kids
saving the world are pretty great.

Speaker 2 (29:41):
But the other end of the spectrum.

Speaker 1 (29:43):
Like, ah, right, you know, it's tough. Do you think
part of what made that feel? I mean, as intense
as it is for you. But part of what made
that journey so enormous because you might you know, you
grew up in a conservative environment. You were figuring out

you were gay as a young kid, but you weren't
like out out yet right when the show started and
then and then your character was having this journey. Did
that feel freeing for you in a way or scary
or maybe also a mix of both.

Speaker 3 (30:19):
Oh, it was terrifying, guess because I think because I
knew that it would make me, it would force me
to look into myself in places that I wasn't ready
to look into. And I mean, I knew very well
how dangerous it was to to to be young and
gay from my surroundings, uh as a kid, and to

go from that to a global uh stage was it
was terrifying. But I have no idea what came over me,
But I just I really I'd like to think that
I rose to the occasion. And I'll never forget. We
were on a hot topic signing tour right before the

show came out to promote the show. This little boye
like like slid when his parents weren't looking slid this
like this envelope to me and there was a little
handwritten note in it that just said thank you, and
he created a like a chain out of paper clips
in the colors of the rainbow. It was in that
moment I knew, like, I I have to I have

to come out and I have to be honest because
because because because kids like that need need someone to
look look to. And it was it was never a
role that I planned on on on on a taking on,
but I just I just knew I needed to.

Speaker 1 (31:37):
Yeah, well that's the thing, Like, visibility can change everything
for people. And one of the things I think I've
realized is that the more myself I am, the more
yourself you are, the the more space you have to
help other people be themselves. And we are in these

constant states of becoming. And so if if by modeling
or being courageous about your becoming, someone following in your footsteps,
you know who's on that same life path as you
can say, oh I'm gonna be okay, Oh I can
do that, I can achieve that. You know, that's really
really beautiful.

Speaker 3 (32:19):
Yeah, it's I mean, it's kind of like the whole
point of I guess life really is just you know,
making life a little easier for the next generation. And
I think Glee put me in a position that I
got to do that. And what an honor and privilege
because not everyone gets skits that opportunity.

Speaker 1 (32:39):
Yeah, and now a word from our sponsors that I
really enjoy and I think you will too.

Speaker 4 (32:47):
Hey, friends, I'm Jessica Capshaw and this is Camilla Luddington
and we have a new podcast, call It what it Is.
You may know us from Gracelawn Memorial, but did you
know that we are actually besties in life.

Speaker 5 (33:00):
And as all besties do, we navigate the highs and
lows of life together. When one of us sends out
the distress signal, the other one always answers the call,
big or small, we are there.

Speaker 4 (33:11):
And what does that look like? A thousand pep talks
a million. I've got yous, some very urgent I'm coming.

Speaker 5 (33:17):
Overs laughter through tears, no judgment, problem solving over glasses
of rose. Sometimes it takes tequila.

Speaker 1 (33:25):
Because I don't know.

Speaker 4 (33:26):
Let's face it, life can get even crazier than a
season finale of Gray's Anatomy.

Speaker 5 (33:30):
And now here we are opening up the friendship circle
to you.

Speaker 4 (33:34):
Someone's cheating.

Speaker 5 (33:35):
We've got you on that in laws or inline, let's
get into.

Speaker 4 (33:39):
It, toxic friendship, air it out. We're on your side
to help you with your concerns, talk about ours, and
every once in a while bring on an awesome guest
to get their take on the things that you bring us.

Speaker 5 (33:51):
While we may be un license to advise, we're gonna
do it anyway.

Speaker 4 (33:55):
Listen to call it what it is starting June third
on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get
your podcasts.

Speaker 1 (34:05):
How did you know, because obviously you know, we're talking
about book twenty and I want to get into some
of the details about.

Speaker 2 (34:13):
Roswell Johnson saving the world.

Speaker 1 (34:16):
But you you wrote your first book while you were
still shooting Glee, right, How did you do that?

Speaker 3 (34:25):
You know? I think very much. It offered me a
great way to escape some of the challenges of shooting.

Speaker 1 (34:32):
That show, like an outlet for your energy.

Speaker 3 (34:36):
Yeah, and especially like when because it was a very
grueling shoot. Uh. You know, we worked eighty hour weeks,
non stop, up and down, singing, dancing, and even even
on our days off on the weekends, we'd have to
go in and record and rehearse. Yeah, person and all
of that so it really helped my sanity, having just

something else to focus my my tension on. Uh uh holy.
And I remember, like, even like when we went on
like the the world tour of Glee, I would show
up at the stadiums a few hours earlier than everyone else,
and I would I would sit underneath the stage because
it was the only place that was quiet, and I
would and I would write. And just having having that

that escape really I think helped my sanity so much
through that whole, that whole, that whole period of time.

Speaker 1 (35:26):
That's so incredible. And and the fact that you had
the wherewithal to care for yourself in such a healthy
and productive way amazes me.

Speaker 3 (35:35):
You know, I didn't realize. I didn't realize it was
healthier productive because because it was.

Speaker 4 (35:39):
It was.

Speaker 3 (35:39):
I mean, it wasn't It wasn't easy. It was it
was tough to write a book regardless, and and it
was really tough to find time to write it. But
now looking back, I realized how like how much that
saved me.

Speaker 1 (35:49):
It's so cool. I'm like, wow, the thing that I
wind up doing when I'm doing eighty hour weeks and
I like can't sleep when I first get home as
I started designing houses I don't own on Pinterest.

Speaker 2 (36:00):
Oh, and I'm like, huh.

Speaker 1 (36:01):
I mean my Pinterest words are great. By the way,
anyone who's ever like moving I help them with their space.
But I'm like, interesting that there's just these like eighty
seven made up homes in a secret internet file. There
are not there are not twenty books. How tell me
about Roswell? Because I I am such a space baby,

Like all I ever want to do is watch cartoons
about space and read about space. There's something about like
kids books that center on it that are my very
favorite thing. And I want to know everything about Roswell Johnson.
I want to know where these obsessions with conspiracies and
extraterrestrial life came from. Give me and our friends at

home the full rundown.

Speaker 3 (36:47):
Oh my gosh, where do I begin. Well, it sounds
like we're cut from same cloth. So that's fine. That'll
make a fuck to you. I have, oh similar. I
have been fascinated with space and our galaxy, our universe. Uh,
for as long as I can remember and and cannot
get enough. I mean, I watch every documentary, I read

every book. I I just I'm obsessed and I'm obsessed
with the idea of alien life because to me, alien
life is always represented possibility and progress and unity because
I mean, for for beings to have that kind of
technology and have those those those vessels that can move

like they do, if if they exist, it would take
an incredible amount of uh of camaraderie and unity and sources.
So that means that maybe somewhere in this universe there's
a planet that got it right, that that that come
together and be together and and bond over one common goal.

So I love that. That's that's what aliens have always
represented to me, and I I just thought it would
be a great world to a book in. And I
started fantasizing about writing this series about halfway through when
I was writing the Lamb story series, and I was
planning on writing this right after the Lamb Stories, but

my publisher persuaded me to write a prequel series instead,
so I wrote the Tale of Magic series in between
the Lamb Stories. In this one. So this has been
in my head for a very long time, That's what
I was.

Speaker 1 (38:23):
Going to say. You've had so long to really let
this marinate.

Speaker 3 (38:26):
Yeah, yeah, And I don't know, like I've always had
this like this just just drive to tell some sort
of alien story. And I've pitched so many shows about
aliens and about the Indigo children, and and and so,
I don't know. It's been a passion of mine just
to get a story out there about about aliens and

and get a story out there that maybe hopefully makes
people less scared of them. Yeah, hopefully, hopefully that's what
this does. But this is a This book is about
a little boy who accidentally gets subducted by aliens and
while he's up in Spain, finds out or uncovers this
evil plot to destroy Earth. And so he teams up
with a bunch of quirky aliens and together they they

fight to save Earth, and along the way, Roswell, the
main character, regains his faith in humanity and the world.

Speaker 1 (39:19):
I love that realizes the world's worth saving.

Speaker 3 (39:22):
He realizes the world is worth saving, right, And when
we meet him in the beginning, he's not invinced. He
he goes through one of his first experiences of racism,
so he's very very down and very very I'm depressed.
But after an adventure through space that that whoops him
back into shade.

Speaker 1 (39:40):
I love it. I love it so well, how how
many books do you envision being in this series?

Speaker 3 (39:48):
I think four. It really just depends if people hate it,
maybe not for it. That's always that's always a deciding
factor because you have to think, like how many things
can he save? You know, he can save the world,
he can save the Solar System, you can save the galaxy.
Then he can save the universe, and after that there's
not much left to save you. But yes, so I think,

I think, I think, I think, uh, I think four
would be would be a good number to tell.

Speaker 1 (40:15):
The story that feels really exciting. Not that I imagine
you have any more time, because look at all of
what you're doing, but you you are such a gifted
musician and worse, Oh my god, right, well it's so funny,
Like I just met the sweetest gal the other day
and she was like, I'm such a fan and sorry

that's probably so annoying, and I was like, I'll take
I'm such a fan over. I absolutely hate everything you
do right.

Speaker 2 (40:42):
Any day, it's so nice, don't stress.

Speaker 1 (40:46):
We were giggling. It was like it was very very funny.
But I'm such a fan of your music and you're
singing and and you know you earlier you mentioned that
some of you guys you know, on the cast of
your first show came from Broadway, and I know you
re performed with our dear work in progress sister friend
Dylan mulvaney, just a gorgeous Broadway baby. Like, do you

when you sort of think about, Okay, you're going to
work on this series and you're launching this first book
in the series now, and you look at the future
landscape of your creative endeavors, do you maybe want to
go back to Broadway? Are you going to make more music?

Speaker 3 (41:24):
What do you think?

Speaker 1 (41:25):
I don't know.

Speaker 3 (41:26):
I mean, for me, singing has always just been It's
been a tool, not a not a passion interesting. But
I think I would love to do Broadway some someday.
I don't know if I could do it in the
in the foreseeable future, but I would like to do

it someday just just for the experience. And I would
I would really love to be like in like a
big like ensemble play at first, and that would be
a great segue into into that world. Gosh, but in music,
like you know, I always say my doing thing for music,
but then I always get asked to sing places, So
I'm sure I'll get roped into some of their charity

event or or you know, I'm sure Jalan will make
me sing again with her.

Speaker 1 (42:11):
I would love it. I'm I'm firmly on team Chris
goes to Broadway. So you just keep me posted on
what the plan is.

Speaker 3 (42:19):

Speaker 1 (42:19):
I will when we talk about you know, because you're
you're writing these wonderful young adult books and giving kids
these spaces to dream and escape and be creative and
all of this creative energy performing, singing, writing is something
that you always needed and wanted to pursue. Is there

from where you sit now, is there advice that you
would give to a young kid kind of in that
you know, eight to twelve demographic, maybe about pursuing creativity
or you know, starting in this industry or or any
of the others that surround it.

Speaker 3 (42:59):
Absolutely, I would say, dream as big as possible, but
also dream as broad as possible. Don't dream specifically, because
this industry is so uh what's the word unreliable? Uh

it's so unpredictable. Uh. The more specific you dream, I think,
the more disappointment you you will you will have. Don't
give yourself, you know, don't give yourself like deadlines like
I have to do this by this age, or I
have to do this by this certain time, or if
I do this, it has to be this specific thing.
You know. Really, just say to yourself, I want to

I want to do this, this, this, and this in
my lifetime, and then just be open, be as open
as you possibly can to uh, whatever comes your way.

Speaker 1 (43:51):
I love that. I love that so much. That's phenomenal advice.
So from this place, you know, a top this pile
of books that you've written and published, uh, and and
everything that you've done so far and the things that
you will do when you kind of take stock, what

feels like you are work in progress right now?

Speaker 3 (44:16):
Oh my gosh, that's a great question. I feel like
I have so many answers.

Speaker 1 (44:26):
You can say, and as many as you want.

Speaker 3 (44:28):
I think taking it in is the ultimate work and
progress for me, because I always always feel like a
failure and it doesn't matter how much I accomplish, it
doesn't matter, you know, like like like like like the
reviews for my new book came out and they were
all they were all really great reviews, and I can't

accept that for some reason. I just I can only
accept accept like negatives sometimes and so I think, yeah,
for me, the ultimate work in progress is just take
you step back and accepting the positivity. Does that make sense?

Speaker 1 (45:05):
Yeah, Oh, it totally does. It totally does.

Speaker 3 (45:09):
Like, like I you know, I hear from LGBT kids
around the world every single day. I've gotten a thousand
messages a week since the show started fifteen years ago,
and I love it and I feel so I'm so
proud of that, but there is part of me that
just cannot accept it as reality, Like like, I don't know,
there's just like this and I don't know what it is,

but there's there's just this I don't know if it's
like like a false sense of protection for myself or what,
but there is a there's a block where I can't
I can't let it in all the way.

Speaker 1 (45:43):
Yeah, I totally understand that. It's actually really interesting because
one of the things I've been learning about ADHD and
like us, you know, sparkly neurospicy folks, is like there
is an immediate desire when someone shares something to be
like I.

Speaker 2 (45:59):
Understand that because like here's my.

Speaker 1 (46:01):
Experience with that, and that some folks whose brains aren't
like ours are like, well, it's not about you right now,
and you're like, no, I'm.

Speaker 2 (46:08):
Trying to empathize with you. Like I'm telling you, I
literally know how you feel.

Speaker 1 (46:12):
So it's interesting because I can track it, and I'm like, oh, yeah,
I want to be like exactly, I feel that exactly.
And I don't know if it's brain chemistry. I don't
know if it's the toughness of being an artist that
makes you a little prepared for the worst always, but
I really struggle with the same and yeah, for some reason,

the successes don't matter, but like the one failure is forever,
and I think to begin to see that a little
bit differently. I had a really impactful experience years ago
that I talked about a lot with a coworker. I
was like having one of those days where I was
really just like ragging on myself and I was sitting

in a chair and she spun my chair around and
grabbed me by the shoulders and she said, watch your mouth.
You're talking about my best friend like that.

Speaker 6 (47:01):
Oh, And I was like, oh shit, Well, like, oh oh,
because I would never allow somebody to talk about my
best friend.

Speaker 1 (47:14):
Yeah, I'll talk about myself or to refuse to let
her relish in her accomplishments. And if she were to
say to me, yeah, but I haven't done pill in
the blank, I'd be like, so, look at everything you
have done, and all we have is more time. As
long as we're so lucky to not get hit by
a bus tomorrow, we have plenty of time. We'll achieve

that shit like all in due time. You know you
just you gave the advice to a stranger just a
minute ago, like, don't set timelines for yourself, just have
the goal, give yourself a lifetime. And so I wonder
if there's something in that to be like, oh right,
I like my wish for you would be that you

get to go oh, I do deserve to feel as
good about what I'm doing as I would want my
best friend to feel about what they're doing.

Speaker 3 (48:02):
Yeah. Yeah, it's also for me. It's also a perfectionism issue,
like like, for some reason, I don't know where I
picked this up, but if it isn't perfect, it doesn't matter.
It's not a value. Look, I was just on the
view a few hours ago, and it was it was
a great It was a great interview. Everyone was everyone
was so kind and I got to tell fun stories

and I and I walked off that stage and I
was just like, I failed. I failed. It was it was,
it wasn't perfect, therefore therefore it doesn't matter.

Speaker 1 (48:33):
I interviewed Julian Huff years ago, like when I think
about my friends that are like triple threats like you,
and she talked a lot about learning perfectionism in the
ballroom world and how perfectionism is like essentially a mental
death sentence because perfect doesn't exist. So when you're a perfectionist,
you set yourself up to fail all the time. And

I was like, oh, I feel attacked, my god. And
I do think there's something about like, in an industry
like ours, nobody wants you to get too confident, and
they certainly don't want you to get too expensive. And
then there's this perspective from the outside that if you're
in this industry, everything must be so easy for you.

So it's just like constant criticism. And I wonder if
the propensity to self criticize, like you said, is a
defense mechanism. Well, if I say I failed first, you
can't tell me anything I don't already know. And it's
like I hate that for us so I don't know,
that's really interesting. I think vocalizing and naming, letting the

good in as a work in progress is a really
that's beautiful, and I know that's important to you, and
it's important to me, and it's probably really important to
a lot of people listening today too. Thank you, yeah,
thank you.

Speaker 3 (50:00):
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