It’s now been eight years since Alex Newell made his big breakthrough as Unique “Wade” Adams on the hit series Glee. From 2012 to 2015, Wade was one of the most visible transgender characters on television, ultimately helping to move the needle for LGBTQ visibility.
Now, after releasing his hit EP Power (2016) and making his Broadway debut in the revival of Once on This Island (2017), Alex Newell is bringing LGBTQ representation to the forefront once again with his new role as Mo in NBC’s new series Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist. The musical dramedy series follows the life of Zoey Clarke (Jane Levy), a young woman who one day begins to realize she has the unique ability to hear the innermost thoughts of people around her as songs and musical numbers. Newell’s character Mo is the gender non-conforming neighbor of Zoey Clarke. Mo often offers Zoey both musical and spiritual advice.
Newell told GLAAD that he very intentionally wanted to craft a character that many people had not seen on television before: “There are a lot of things that I would love to see on television. You never really see a gender non-conforming [person’s] dating life ever on television…you don’t see someone that is effeminate or plus-size have a love interest on TV. I said, ‘Let’s do that. Let’s do something that people don’t see often.’”
Airing Sunday, March 1, Episode 4 of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist takes a deeper dive into the life of Mo and their own battle with being their authentic self while singing in their church choir. In the episode, Mo’s character discusses their history of facing homophobia within the church, and how they feel like their only two options are to “dress like a man and feel like a fraud or dress like a female and risk being run out of the sanctuary.”
Check out an exclusive clip below:
Make sure to check out Episode 4 of Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist airs on NBC on March 1 at 8pm ET/7pm CT.