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TRANSCEND

TRANSCEND: ALEX NEWELL

Singer and Actor Alex Newell is not just an incredible talent, but an active supporter of the LGBTQ+ communities!

the following is a transcript of Gracie’s conversation with the talented, Alex Newell.

GRACIE

They put the D in diva. Next. Baby, my guest today is an incredible artist, a singer that sings the house down. Let me say it again, that sings the house down, an actor on shows like “Glee” and “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist”, and has graced the stage of Broadway’s “Once On This Island”. Aside from their powerful voice, they’re also a powerful and inspiring force in the LGBTQ community. Please welcome to “Transcend” my fabulous friend, my sister, my bitch, the one and only Alex Newell.

ALEX

Yeah!

GRACIE

Hi, icon.

ALEX

Hi, legend.

GRACIE

I’m so, so, so, so excited to have you here today. Alex and I, we go way back. We met on set one day. I was filling in for the hairstylist at the time. That was the one good do-and-go that led us into a good working relationship. I became Alex’s hairstylist. One time, I went over to Alex to do a quick do-and-go, fell in love with his place. I was looking for an apartment at the time, and I moved into the building. We became neighbors. However, when a girl started her transition and when times got hard and things got rough for a doll, my sister opened up her home and allowed me to move in throughout the first year of my transition. I am eternally grateful. I have said this to this queen many times, but I am so grateful that I get to say it publicly. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you for being an angel in my life. So grateful for you.

ALEX

You know I love you so much, and to see you blossom and bloom into the person that you were always meant to be is the most beautiful thing. And if I could have this ounce and a sliver of making the space able for you to be who you are.

GRACIE

I am eternally grateful. We are family. I mean Momma Brenda, my nieces, Nugget and Ari, we are just, I’m just happy. Let’s get into it.

ALEX

Yes.

GRACIE

With music being a major part of your life, was there any other plan that you had in mind besides coming as singer or actor in showbiz?

ALEX

To be honest with you, I thought that I would be like a therapist. My mother put me in therapy as soon as my father died, when I was six, and I knew how much that helped me feel that nothing was wrong and everything that I was going through was normal, all the feelings. And so outside of that, I just love how the human mind works and why we do things, and I’m so fascinated by that. So I really wanted either to be a psychologist or a therapist. And so yeah, that didn’t help, so I became an actor instead.

GRACIE

Well, honey, it’s never to early and it’s never too late to get the help that you need, honey. So kudos to Momma Brenda for that. Speaking of Hollywood, with an iconic and groundbreaking role in television, as Unique, on the hit show, “Glee”, which was a moment you literally helped push open the door for trans and non-binary and gender-non-conforming roles in, not only for Hollywood, but for the community and our everyday lives? What does that mean to you?

ALEX

Back then, I always used to say it, it’s like it was always bigger than me and I didn’t know what that was, because we didn’t have the terminology that we have now. We didn’t have the education or the tools or the resources that we have now. And to be the spark of creation, to start that, I always knew it was bigger than me. And I’m so happy that we have these tools and we have these resources and we have these new people coming in and standing in their truth and educating us. And like I said, to be a small portion of that is stunning.

GRACIE

Honey, you are a huge portion. I mean how liberating that must feel. Not even ten years ago, no one even knew what gender-non-conforming meant, let alone trans people couldn’t even freely go into the bathroom. Do you feel that the needle is finally moving forward, when it comes to diversity, with roles in Hollywood?

ALEX

The needle is moving. It’s a slow needle, but it’s definitely moving, and I think the more that we make it a norm and the more that we accept it and we tell truthful, honest stories, and whether they be good or bad, I think that that moves it even further. Because we’re showing the masses that everyone is here and their story is worth telling.

GRACIE

With countlessly moving the crowd to their feet on Broadway with your role as Asaka in the “On This Island”, what was one of your favorite moments?

ALEX

One of my favorite moments was probably a mishap that happened on stage. I remember starting my number, and I wore this giant 30-yard skirt that was made out of tablecloth, oilcloth, really, and I was walking, doing a number, doing a number, and my skirt got caught on something. And I was just, oh, makes it somebody’s foot, and so I kept going. And I heard a tear, and then I was just like, that doesn’t sound good, but maybe it’s free. And then I kept running and I heard it rip completely off of my body. It was iconic because I never stopped. I just kept going. I took the skirt off, I handed it to somebody, and I told ’em I’d finish my number, because they came for a show and I was trying to give the people a show.

GRACIE

In true Alex Newell fashion. I mean–

ALEX

Not me.

GRACIE

If you had to pick and choose and stick to one of your favorite loves between recording artist, acting, Broadway, which would it be?

ALEX

You know, I always wanted to be the Black chocolate Barbara Streisand. So it’s very hard for me to pick one, but I don’t know. Probably, Broadway was my first love, so I think that I could do Broadway forever.

GRACIE

Okay, okay.

ALEX

I’m saying this, I think I could. But there’s so much more money in TV.

GRACIE

She’s, I give you the coins.

ALEX

Hand me the coins.

GRACIE

Hand me the coins.

ALEX

Hand me my money.

GRACIE

And out of all of the amazing songs you have sung or covered, which would you say is your favorite to perform, and why?

ALEX

My favorite song to always perform is “I Am Changing”, from “Dreamgirls”, because I find so much about myself over the years that I’ve learned this song and I sing this song, and I learn more meanings of the lyrics that I’m saying that ring so true to who I am, because we’re human and we all change and we all evolve, and that song is about growth and human growth and not being your past self and growing from all of that, the good, and the bad, and the ugly. So I love that song.

GRACIE

I love that. I love that. I don’t why I was thinking it was gonna be something different, but I really love that, and then that, I don’t know. I was gonna go back to “Glee”, to “If I Were a Boy”. I don’t know. But I definitely felt like it probably could’ve been like a Jennifer Holliday song, I do. Now I know, firsthand, the bond and the loving relationship that you share with your mom, so much that your song, “Momma Told Me”, was for her. What is one thing that Momma Brenda told you that always stays with you?

ALEX

I think the biggest thing that she always taught me, between lead with love and leave it better than how you found it. And that can always go with people. Leave people better than you found them. Be the lasting impression of love and positivity in their life, or just helping them out, doing something for them, and just keeping, like I’m staying at a friend’s house, keeping their house better than how I found it. I think that’s like a big thing for me, ’cause my mother is a person of service and she truly does love helping other people and doing things for other people, and that was my example in life, whether I liked it or not or whether I knew it or not. So yeah.

GRACIE

Momma Brenda is amazing, and I’m so grateful that I get a piece of her. I’m so grateful. Describe Alex in one word.

ALEX

A mess. I am.

GRACIE

And that’s what I mean, that’s why I love you so much. You are like the real deal. I mean aside from who you are in this entertainment industry, you are a true, real friend, one that would get straight off the plane, soon as you land, and just, you’re here with me today. One more question. What is Gracie’s favorite dishes for Alex Newell to cook? Because if you don’t know this, queen cooks down.

ALEX

You know you love yourself some banana pudding, or fried chicken and spaghetti. And my mac and cheese is good, too.

GRACIE

My fave is the mac and cheese, the fried chicken, and definitely the banana pudding, and I wasn’t even a banana girl until you. My sister from another mister, from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for gracing “Transcend” with your presence and thank you for being an angel in my life. I love you. Now keep slinging these hoes.

ALEX

I love you–

GRACIE

To watch this episode again, check out our website at pluslifemedia.com, and make sure to follow us @pluslifemedia. Until next time, sing your song and shine your light, honey.

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