When Glee’s Chris Colfer found out that he was nominated for an Emmy this morning, he collapsed on the floor of his living room. Vulture reached him there to talk about his nod, the portrayal of gay men on TV, and the weighty responsibility of representing his hometown of Clovis, California, better than its other high-profile resident, a jerky Bachelorette contestant.
Hi! How are you feeling?
Shocked. I can’t believe it. I was in bed, actually, when I found out. I got the call really early this morning. My TV hasn’t even been on yet. I was kind of tossing and turning in bed, not really sleeping, trying to, when my publicist called me, and then I kind of collapsed on the floor of my living room because I was so excited.
How long did it take you to get up?
I’m sitting here now!
What have you been doing there?
I’ve just been speaking to friends and family and teachers and reporters, and to the cast.
Were there any people from your past who you were like, “This one’s for you!”
Yes, I had to call my coach, and I had to call my AP European History teacher. I’ve just always been close with her, so I had to let her know. She’s ecstatic. I think my whole hometown [Clovis, California] is kind of buzzing right now. I think I am their first Emmy nominee. Audra McDonald was the first TV nominee from Fresno, but I think I’m the first one from Clovis.
Do you feel like you’re representing?
I guess! I know there’s someone on The Bachelorette right now from Clovis [Kasey Kahl] that isn’t doing a very good job, apparently. So I’m glad to be a good representation.
Do you think this nod is a victory for gay characters on TV?
I certainly hope so. Three out of the six characters in my category are actors who are portraying gay characters, so I do think so. I hope we’re trending towards more acceptance of gay characters on television and in life. There’s always actors who are afraid to take on gay characters or gay roles, and it goes to show you: You play a gay person on TV, you get nominated for an Emmy!
Do you feel a responsibility to play Kurt a certain way, since he’s one of only however many representations of gay men on mainstream television?
Absolutely. I know that one of the reasons why I tried to play Kurt the way I did was because I was really tired of the typical gay character portrayal on TV. Usually they’re sarcastic, bitchy, whiny, loud, obnoxious characters in the background. I really didn’t think anyone — at least people I grew up with — none of us could relate to someone like that. I really wanted to play Kurt very real, more subdued in a way, and internal rather than flamboyant and obnoxious. The material that he has on the show is so endearing, and it’s so important to so many people, that sometimes I do feel just a huge responsibility not to screw it up, and to make sure he’s always handled with dignity.