by Janice Jann
To call Jenna Ushkowitz a triple-threat would be an accurate description. On Glee, FOX’s wildly anticipated show about a misfit-filled high school glee club, the 23-year-old actress/singer/dancer emotes, croons and gets jiggy with it—all for a television audience of millions. A born performer, Ushkowitz has appeared on TV shows like Sesame Street and As the World Turns, and on Broadway in “The King and I” and “Spring Awakening.” And it looks like her career is just warming up.
Tell me about your last name, Ushkowitz.
It’s Polish. I was actually adopted from Korea when I was 3 months old. My father is Polish-Italian and my mother is Irish-English.
How’d you start performing?
People would always tell my parents I was a funny little girl because I would go up to people in restaurants and say hi. I was very outgoing, so they took me to do print and commercial work. I booked my first job at age 3 and it went from there. At 9, I went in for a call for “The King and I.” But it was at age 15 that I was really introduced to musical theater. I went to a performing arts high school, so along with regular classes, there was also theater, dancing and choir.
Your character on Glee, Tina, is an outcast. What was your high school experience like?
I loved high school. I did everything I could possibly do. I was in student council and high school musicals. I was a total theater geek.
With three Teen Choice Award nominations, Glee is already off to an amazing start. Are you prepared for your impending fame?
[Laughs] That’s a good way to put it. Everyone keeps saying to us, “It’s going to be a hit, it’s going to be a hit,” and all you can do is work hard and just cross your fingers. I think we can just take it step by step at that point. Do we feel that it’s special? Yes. But I don’t think any of us are thinking, “Oh, we’re going to be so famous.”