Q: How does a kid from Plano decide he wants to be in entertainment?
A: As long as I can remember, I’ve always kind of done it. I think because I was the youngest, I was always entertaining my family. From an early age, I would stand up on the counter and sing and dance. That’s just what I did.
Q: And you knew another local celebrity, Demi Lovato, growing up?
A: We went to the same singing teacher. It was me, Hunter Parrish, Demi, Ryan Cabrera, Ashlee Simpson. We were all together, which is funny now that we’ve all had our own successes.
Q: Now that you’re living in L.A., is there anything you miss about Dallas?
A: I miss having four seasons. Well, I don’t really miss the summer, but I definitely miss the other three seasons. Even though it’s always really nice in L.A., there’s something to be said about having an actual winter.
Q: Right before Glee, you were in a boy band called NLT that was—to put it bluntly—unsuccessful. What was it like to go from struggling entertainer to superstar almost overnight?
A: I think I was more prepared because of everything I went through with that group. I learned a lot about work ethic and the recording, the dancing, the touring. I had been doing that for years leading up to Glee. So for that, I was overly prepared.
Q: Did you know Jane Lynch was going to be in Glee when you were cast?
A: No, none of us knew that she was in it until the first day of filming. We had dance rehearsal at the high school we were shooting at, and someone said Jane Lynch was there. We were all like, “Huh?” And I was a massive, massive Jane Lynch fan. I felt like I was the only 10-year-old kid in Plano who knew who Jane Lynch was.
Q: How much time did you practice with a wheelchair to prepare for the role of Artie?
A: I picked it up pretty quickly. We had about three dance rehearsals before the pilot, and the first day or so, I spent most of the day wheeling around. The first number we did was “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat.” In the show, it’s only 10 seconds long, but in reality, it was about a three-minute number that was completely based around the wheelchair. So I was really focused and determined to make it second nature.
Q: Most of the disabled community seems to be supportive of your playing Artie.
A: There’s nothing better than meeting people who are actually in wheelchairs and say that they believe me and think I play the part well. That’s the ultimate goal. So to hear that from them is very reassuring.
Q: Now that rumors are swirling about who will graduate from McKinley High this season, is it frustrating to think that your role on the show probably won’t last much beyond three or four years?
A: We’re all very realistic about it. We’ve worked our butts off, and we’ve gotten to experience a lot of things over the past three years that people don’t get to experience in an entire lifetime. So if I was written off the show tomorrow, or at the end of this season, or next season, it’s been an incredible experience.
Q: What’s the coolest thing you’ve gotten to do since Glee started?
A: Visiting the White House was just insane. Amber [Riley, who plays Mercedes] standing on the White House balcony, singing the national anthem, standing next to the first family. It doesn’t get any more surreal than that.