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Jenna Ushkowitz

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Jenna Ushkowitz

Jenna Ushkowitz
Ushkowitz at the San Diego Comic-Con International, July 2011
Born (1986-04-28) April 28, 1986
Seoul, South Korea
Alma mater Marymount Manhattan College
Occupation Actress, singer, dancer
Years active 1989–present

Jenna Noelle Ushkowitz (born April 28, 1986) is an American stage and television actress, singer and writer, best known for her performances in Broadway musicals and for her role as Tina Cohen-Chang on Glee. She has also written a memoir titled Choosing Glee.

Early life

Ushkowitz was born in Seoul, South Korea; she was adopted at the age of three months and raised in East Meadow, New York.[1][2] Ushkowitz was raised Catholic[3] (her surname originates from her adoptive paternal grandfather, who was of Russian Jewish descent).[4] She attended Parkway Elementary School and Holy Trinity Diocesan High School, a Catholic school in Hicksville, Long Island known for its strong theater department. During high school, Ushkowitz appeared in several musicals, including the first-ever high school production of Les Misérables. Her other roles included Penny in Honk!, Inez in The Baker's Wife, Little Red Riding Hood in Into the Woods, and Romaine Patterson in The Laramie Project. Ushkowitz graduated from high school in 2004 and moved on to attend Marymount Manhattan College, where she once again took the role of Little Red Riding Hood in Into the Woods.[5] She graduated from Marymount Manhattan in 2007 with a B.A. in Theatre Arts, with a concentration in Performance and a minor in Musical Theater.


Ushkowitz at the 2010 Comic Con in San Diego

Ushkowitz has had a career in show business since the age of three. As a child, she appeared on Sesame Street and other children's television shows. Her first role in a Broadway musical was in the 1996 revival of The King and I.[5] Ushkowitz sang the American National Anthem at a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden when she was thirteen.[5] Ushkowitz understudied the roles of Anna, Martha, Thea and Ilse in the Broadway musical Spring Awakening[6] beginning in 2008.[7]

In 2009, Ushkowitz landed the role of Tina Cohen-Chang on Fox's musical high school show Glee.[8] In casting Glee, series creator Ryan Murphy sought out actors who could identify with the rush of starring in theatrical roles. Instead of using traditional network casting calls, he spent three months on Broadway, where he found Ushkowitz.[9] The Glee casting associate in New York had previously cast Ushkowitz in Spring Awakening.[10] Ushkowitz was initially given little information about Tina's back story, and believed that her stutter was real. She was pleased when the truth was revealed, however, explaining: "It would have been fun to keep it because that just gives her one more quirk, but this opens up a whole new set of doors for Tina."[11] Ushkowitz's solos have included the songs "True Colors" by Cyndi Lauper, "I Follow Rivers" by Lykke Li, "Because You Loved Me" by Celine Dion, "Gangnam Style" by PSY, "I Don't Know How to Love Him" from Jesus Christ Superstar, and "Hung Up" by Madonna.

Raymund Flandez of The Wall Street Journal hailed the "True Colors" cover as showcasing Ushkowitz's "strong crystalline voice".[12] Gerrick D. Kennedy, writing for the Los Angeles Times, wrote that the "poignant" rendition was one of his "feel-good, tearjerker moments".[13] The version charted at number 47 on the Australian Singles Chart, 38 on the Canadian Hot 100, 15 on the Irish Singles Chart, 35 on the UK Singles Chart, and 66 on the United States' Billboard Hot 100.[14] The series' version of "ABC" was singled out for demonstrating "what a lovely singer Tina is" by Billboard '​s Rae Votta, and BuddyTV editor John Kubicek said he enjoyed it "mostly because Tina deserves more singing time".[15][16] It entered the Hot 100 at number 88 and the Canadian Hot 100 at 93.[17][18] Rolling Stone journalist Erica Futterman wrote of "Because You Loved Me": "The richness of her voice removes some of the Lite FM softness embedded in the tune and it really is great to see Tina get a song that suits her vocal abilities".[19] Ushkowitz has performed live concert shows in the US, Canada, UK, and Ireland with her castmates from Glee.

The grayscale picture of three people, two women and a man, who dance and put their hands on their hips. The man wears a dark outfit, compound of a vest, a shirt and pants. The women wear similar leotards.
Ushkowitz, Chris Colfer and Heather Morris during a performance of "Single Ladies" on the tour Glee Live! In Concert! in 2011

In 2011, Ushkowitz appeared briefly in Lady Gaga's music video for "Marry the Night" playing Gaga's friend, Bo.[20] It was announced in July 2012 that Ushkowitz would be writing her first book, titled Choosing Glee.[21][22][23] According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ushkowitz's book will be an autobiography of sorts, documenting her childhood on Long Island, where she was raised after being adopted as a baby, her Broadway debut in The King and I in 1996, her stint in "Spring Awakening" with Glee costar Lea Michele, and her time on Glee. It also focuses on her "motivational approach toward life" and was released on May 14, 2013. During Glee's fith season, Ushkowitz's character graduated and was accepted into Brown University, meaning her role on the series was diminished; she appeared in only one out of the last seven episodes. Later on that year, Ushkowitz was cast as Jeanie in the Hollywood Bowl production of Hair on August 1, 2 and 3, 2014. [24]

Personal life

Ushkowitz dated fellow actor Michael Trevino for 3 years, but they broke up in 2014.[25]


Year Title Role Notes
1995-1998 The King and I Royal Child
2006-2008 Spring Awakening Swing Role
2014 Hair Jeanie 3 shows with an all-star cast at the Hollywood Bowl.


Year Title Role Notes
1988 Sesame Street Herself
1988 Reading Rainbow Herself
1988 As the World Turns Herself
1989 Nick Jr. (block) Herself
1989 Babyface Herself
1993 Sesame Street Herself
2001 Educated Wendy
2007 The Suite Life of Zack & Cody Violin Player One episode
2008 Yankees on Deck Herself
2009–present Glee Tina Cohen-Chang Main Cast (Season 1-5)
Recurring Guest Star (Season 6)
2010 When I Was 17 Herself Episode 32, with Patrick Stump and Deena Cortese
2011 The Glee Project Herself Guest mentor
Episode: Believability
2011 Glee: The 3D Concert Movie Tina Cohen-Chang Main cast
2011 Marry The Night Bo Lady Gaga's music video
2013 This Is How I Made It Herself Episode 10, with Ciara
2013 Master Chef Herself Season 4: Episode 10
2014 Celebrity Name Game Herself Season 1: Episode 8, Episode 21
2014 Twinsters - Executive Producer


Year Award Category Work Result
2010 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Glee Won
TV Land Awards Future Classics (with: Glee Cast) Won
Teen Choice Awards Choice Music: Group (with: Glee Cast) Nominated
Lesbian/Bi People's Choice Awards Favorite Music Duo or Group (with: Glee Cast) Nominated
Gay People's Choice Awards Favorite Music Duo or Group (with: Glee Cast) Won
2011 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated
Grammy Awards Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media Glee: The Music, Volume 1 Nominated
Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals "Don't Stop Believin' (Regionals Version)" Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Choice Music: Group (with: Glee Cast) Glee Nominated
2012 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated
Grammy Awards Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media (with: Glee Cast) Glee: The Music, Volume 4 Nominated
2013 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Glee Nominated


  1. ^ KoreAm (2009-08-01). Jenna Ushkowitz Takes Center Stage: "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."
  2. ^ Hazel Lodevico (2009-08-20). High School Musical Broadway veteran Jenna Ushkowitz gets full of Glee at the Wayback Machine (archived March 27, 2010).
  3. ^ The Philadelphia Inquirer Digital Edition. Retrieved 2012-09-25.
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ a b c Jenna Ushkowitz. (2008-08-26)
  6. ^ Jenna Ushkowitz. Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 2012-09-25.
  7. ^ Jann, Janice."Fall ’11 Feature – I Dream of Jenna", Audrey Magazine, 2011-12-06. Accessed 2012-07-23
  8. ^ FOX Broadcasting Company – Glee TV Show – Glee TV Series – Glee Episode Guide. Retrieved 2012-09-25.
  9. ^ Martin, Denise (April 26, 2009). "Video: 'Glee' team rewrites the school musical".  
  10. ^ Shen, Maxine (November 23, 2009). Gleek' goddess"'".  
  11. ^ Weiselman, Jarrett (November 18, 2009). "Jenna Ushkowitz: I'm rooting for Tina to join Cheerios!". New York Post. News Corporation. Retrieved 16 February 2010. 
  12. ^ Flandez, Raymund (November 26, 2009). Glee" Season 1, Episode 11 "Hairography": TV Recap""".  
  13. ^ Kennedy, Gerrick D. (November 26, 2009). Glee': A hairlicious distraction before Thanksgiving"'".  
  14. ^ "Glee Cast and Jenna Ushkowitz - True Colors". Retrieved June 10, 2010. 
  15. ^ Votta, Rae (December 7, 2011). Glee' Recap: Chord Overstreet Returns in Jam-Packed Episode"'". Billboard (Prometheus Global Media). Retrieved December 7, 2011. 
  16. ^ Kubicek, John (December 6, 2011). Glee' Recap: Sectionals Solves Everything"'". BuddyTV. Retrieved December 7, 2011. 
  17. ^ Grein, Paul (December 14, 2011). "Week Ending Dec. 11, 2011. Songs: Mariah’s Christmas Gift".  
  18. ^ "Nielsen Music: Canadian Update (December 16, 2011)". Billboard (Prometheus Global Media). Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  19. ^ Futterman, Erica (May 16, 2012). Glee' Recap: What a Feeling"'".  
  20. ^ Jenna Ushkowitz, Lady Gaga: 'Marry the Night' Video Cameo Brought on by Chance Double Date Retrieved 2012-04-17
  21. ^ 'Glee's' Jenna Ushkowitz to Write Book (Exclusive) The Hollywood Reporter (2012/7/2)
  22. ^ Jenna Ushkowitz to Pen CHOOSING GLEE Broadway World (2012/7/2)
  23. ^ 'Glee' star Jenna Ushkowitz is writing a book - 'Choosing Glee' Zap2It (2012/7/2)
  24. ^ [2]
  25. ^ "Jenna Ushkowitz, Michael Trevino Split After Three Years Of Dating". Yahoo!. Retrieved 30 May 2014. 

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