Alex Newell Won’t Fit into Your Mold, But He Might Squeeze into Your Shoes

It’s a breathless late afternoon in Jun and Alex Newell is struggling to put on his shoes. “Dear feet. You will not be distended today,” Newell, 24, says as he squeezes his toes into a span of lacey black Christian Louboutins in his trailer on New York City’s Upper West Side. “I’m an 11 in women’s. It’s not bad. Would we rather be an 8? Absolutely.”

After about 30 seconds of grunting and tugging, Newell is in. “Yes!” he yelps, as he slips in his heel. He trots to a counterpart to admire his full look: red-bottomed Louboutins, a relating black edging choker, and an all-white suit. (He’ll supplement a china and black wig later.) “This is a moment,” he says.

Newell has an affinity for shoes. It’s expected given he attempted on 3 pairs before settling on a Louboutins as he glams for a 2017 Logo Trailblazer Honors red runner after that night. It’s expected given he’s peaceful to withstand a pain (and bleeding) of a glittery china span of Aldo heels his stylist picked out for his opening performance—a violin-powered delivery of “True Colors,” alongside singers Hayley Kiyoko and Wrabel, in respect of Cyndi Lauper.

It’s also expected given he snuck into his mother’s closet during 10 years aged (around a time he began carrying inklings of his sexuality) to try on her high heels, or given he auditioned for a purpose of Lola, a thigh-high boots-obsessed drag queen, on Broadway’s “Kinky Boots” 4 times. “I consider a aloft a heel, a closer to god,” Newell says.

There maybe is nowhere closer to God than where Newell is right now during a Cathedral of Saint John a Divine, a Gothic tip Manhattan church, where Logo will film a show. Soon, a cathedral, a eremite ceremony house-turned-pink-tinted gala, will be filled with hundreds of LGBTQ leaders—an irony Newell, a Catholic propagandize alum, entirely understands. “I adore it. All a homos in one small church. It’s such an oxymoron,” Newell says.

alex newell 3 Alex Newell Wont Fit into Your Mold, But He Might Squeeze into Your Shoes

Photo: Brian Ziff

Born and lifted in a city usually north of Boston, Newell spent many of his childhood during Catholic school, where he was one of reduction than 5 black students. “I had my best Caucasian upbringing,” he says.

The usually place he saw others that looked like him was during church, where Newell attended any Sunday given he was a toddler to sing in a choir. It was also where he would after rise conflicted feelings over a bible’s teachings.

Newell’s mom detected his talent during age dual after he wandered onto a entertainment during a state satisfactory when his mom fast incited around to fetch him a juice. “She started panicking, looking for me, and afterwards she usually listened my voice,” Newell says.

He after held a behaving bug during 11, when he saw a internal entertainment prolongation of “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” an all-black Musical set in a Harlem Renaissance. “I would see Broadway shows that were on PBS and we would be in adore with them, though we never saw anyone that looked like me,” he says.

It was a using theme: Newell was one of 3 black students in his high school—and with a high-pitched voice and healthy sashay, he simply stranded out. Still, it wasn’t all tough. While his peers sorted by their possess sexuality, Newell hardly gave his a second thought. “Walking around a residence in my mother’s heels, we was like, ‘I consider that’s it, guys!’” he says,

At 17, on a whim, Newell came out to his mom by impulsively revelation her right before bed. “I screamed it during my mom and she said, ‘Go to bed. we usually took a Xanax,’” he says. “The subsequent morning she was like, ‘I’m fine. Are we fine?’ And we was like, ‘I’m great! we adore you.’”

But not everybody was so accepting. As word widespread in his church, Newell held a courtesy of his pastor, who pulled his mom aside to surprise her that Newell’s sexuality was sinful. “He pronounced a lifestyle that we chose goes opposite a bible,” Newell says. “Everyone who is a doctrinaire Christian, they always use a bible opposite things they don’t like. But I’m flattering certain a bible says, ‘God is love.’ So if we can’t adore someone else, aren’t we going opposite a bible?”

alex newell trademark explorer honors 2017 Alex Newell Wont Fit into Your Mold, But He Might Squeeze into Your Shoes

Photo: Getty Images

In his youth year, Newell practical for a unchanging purpose on “Glee” around a Myspace audition. Months later, he was comparison to contest on a little-known uncover called “The Glee Project”—not quite a same, though if chosen, Newell would win a repeated purpose on “Glee.” Newell fast agreed, holding a leave deficiency from high propagandize and drifting to Los Angeles that same week.

He eventually done it to a tip four, losing out on a categorical purpose though still earning a two-episode satisfaction prize—a purpose that would after turn a array unchanging and mortar him to inhabitant stardom.

In Apr 2012, about a year after “The Glee Project” ended, Newell done his “Glee” entrance as Wade Adams, a bashful off-stage, Sasha Fierce on-stage transgender tyro who would after go by “Unique.” By Sep 2013, Newell was promoted to array unchanging and warranted widespread commend for portraying one of a initial transgender high propagandize students on television. “I was usually in Denver final week during a nightclub and this trans masculine came adult to me and he pronounced that he wears his [surgical] scars proudly given of me,” Newell says. “It took all in my physique not to sob.”

Despite a praise, Newell is still a partial of ongoing debate per cisgender actors personification transgender characters. (In a viral Twitter thread, transgender singer Jen Richards explained that cisgender actors, privately men, personification transgender characters is dangerous given it conveys to audiences that “being a trans women is usually a male performing.”) It is a debate Newell understands though also sees stipulations to. “Everything’s a double-edged sword. I’m an actor, so during a finish of a day, it’s whoever is best for a role. But I’m also a human,” he says. “I will say, given my impression never entirely transitioned, it kind of worked in a way. we myself might not be trans, though we am complicated on a gender-noncomforming.”

alex newell joviality 2 Alex Newell Wont Fit into Your Mold, But He Might Squeeze into Your Shoes

Photo: FOX

As “Glee” entered a final seasons, Newell was already looking ahead. While signing his final array unchanging deal, Newell was approached by Atlantic Records to recover his possess music. He jumped during a opportunity, debuting his initial extended play, “POWER”—a Whitney Houston-esque catalogue—in 2016. Though it didn’t launch him into Beyonce’s stratosphere, Newell isn’t discouraged, with a new singular out in Aug and another EP and manuscript in a pipeline.

That turn of assured confidence is expected what prisoner a courtesy of Adam Lambert in 2016 to move Newell on his tour, or held a eye of NBC that same year to greenlight “Imaginary Friend,” a comedy starring Newell in a lead role.

It’s also expected what got Newell in a try-out room for “Kinky Boots.” In 2015, as “Kinky Boots”—a low-pitched created and scored by Lauper about shoe businessman and drag black who partner to run a high heel company—was looking to reinstate a lead, Newell was called in for a role. He seemed to be attack all a marks, until a executive incited him down for his figure.

“They pronounced my weight would stop me from personification a role, that is not true, though to any their own,” he says. “I was like, ‘This is a uncover where they’re enlivening we to be who we wish to be. Don’t let them tell we who we should be.’ They literally looked me in a face and told me we was too large to play a role. There’s no limitation. My weight does not allot what we can't do.”

The taste also followed Newell by his personal life where he would ceaselessly confront attribute profiles preaching, “No fats. No femmes. No blacks.”

“We’re in a village where we wish so many to be supposed nonetheless we don’t accept any other,” Newell says. “We all siphon a same dick, so given is it that we take it on yourself to emanate some arrange of alpha gay? The happy that is a ‘right’ kind of gay.”

Before he met his boyfriend, Newell admits he was never called “beautiful,” a tenure he’s still removing used to. “I was zero like any of his 6’1”, white, blonde, blue-eyed, go-to-the-gym-nine-times-a-day boyfriends. we was like, ‘You do know that I’m 5’7”, we have thick thighs, and my hair is black, right?” Newell says. “I had a insecurities about it all a time. It was unequivocally tough to get out of that. But here we am. I’ve risen above it. He always pronounced we was beautiful, regardless. It’s a tough thing to hear given no one else has pronounced it.”

alex newell 1 Alex Newell Wont Fit into Your Mold, But He Might Squeeze into Your Shoes

Photo: Brian Ziff

It’s about dual hours before he takes a entertainment during a Logo Trailblazer Honors and Newell is defeat by a dim brick-lined alleyway in a behind of a cathedral on his approach to a last-minute dress rehearsal.

The sight of his white floor-length dress grazes a belligerent as a stomping of his glittery stilettos relate opposite a cathedral walls. Audible YAAAS’s can be listened from stagehands who bestir aside as Newell, also dressed in satin china jumpsuit, floats toward a stage.

During a operation performance, Newell’s stylist, a lady with prolonged blonde braids clutching a span of brownish-red leather flip flops, watches him from a list during a side of a stage. On his solo, Newell struts down, his stiletto-shackled feet following one after a other, as he belts “True Colors” to a heart-clutching audience.

At a end, Newell’s face drops. He turns to his stylist, gives her a genocide glare, and shakes his head.

She fast rushes to him to barter his heels for flip flops. Even a many mold-breaking still have to mangle in their shoes.




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