Nick Jonas is blessed. It’s a word he uses a lot, but it’s hard to dispute the sacred sentiment from the 19-year-old Jonas Brothers heartthrob and frontman of the band Nick Jonas and the Administration. Beginning January 24, the former Disney star continues to nurture his musical theater roots in Broadway’s How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, succeeding Glee’s Darren Criss as corporate ladder-climber J. Pierrepont Finch, the role Daniel Radcliffe originated in the hit revival. In his first gay press interview, Jonas gets down to the business of sharing his blessings with stylish LGBT fans.
By Brandon Voss
The Advocate: You’re the youngest celebrity I’ve ever interviewed.
Nick Jonas: Oh, really?
You might also be the smartest, so I won’t go easy on you.
Sounds good to me.
Girls go wild for the Jonas Brothers, but are you also aware of your gay male following?
Yeah, we love our gay fans. It was definitely cool when we realized that, because the more you can grow your audience, the more people you can impact. They’ve been incredible over the years. My brothers and I totally look forward to meeting them, because they really respond to our style, and it’s cool to see how our influence has impacted what they’re wearing. They also give really good gifts at our meet-and-greets — hats, scarves, and other things. They always have good taste.
Do any gay people help you look so dapper?
Definitely. We work with a lot of gay people as part of our team, and they’re amazing. We’re blessed to have them.
Are there gays in your circle of friends?
Obviously, doing musical theater, I’ve had a lot of gay friends over the years. Les Misérables in London in 2010 was my first reentry back into theater, and my gay castmates in particular were really helpful to me during that transition. I’ve kept in touch with all of them, and it’s great when I can go back and see them, get some food together, talk, and have a good laugh.
Perez Hilton is also a good gay friend to have.
Yes, Perez is an amazing guy. He’s been a big supporter of my brothers and me, and he’s been an amazing support as I’ve transitioned back into theater. I loved that he came out to see Hairspray at the Hollywood Bowl, and I know he’s going to come see How to Succeed. I’m blessed to have him as a friend as well.
Did you make gay friends during your Broadway debut at the age of 8 in Annie Get Your Gun?
Yeah, my first exposure to Broadway was probably my first exposure to gay people, and it was great. It was exciting to be around likeminded people who were also passionate about music and performing.
Did anyone explain to you that some boys like boys and some girls like girls?
I don’t think that conversation needed to be had. I was totally aware, I understood what it meant, and I was totally fine with it. It didn’t confuse me, because I knew it was all about love. I was raised in a really open home where the policy was love.
Yet it was an evangelical Christian home, and your father was a preacher.
My upbringing was faith-based, but we believed you should love all others as you want to be loved, because everyone should be treated equally. That’s helped me have an understanding of people on different journeys and in different walks of life. At the end of the day, we’re all the same, because we all want to be loved. As long as love as the key, we’re in good shape.
When a number of LGBT blogs posted pictures of you hugging antigay Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren in 2010, some readers wondered if you might share his beliefs on issues like gay marriage.
My friends are my friends, and people that I’m acquainted with don’t necessarily share the same opinions as I do, and that’s how I’ll put that. My thoughts on gay marriage are that everyone has the right to love and be loved, and that’s the position I take.
A wholesome, conservative image has somewhat defined the Jonas Brothers; at the height of the group’s popularity, the media focused a lot on your purity rings, for example. As the three of you get older and branch out into other individual interests, would you like to distance yourself from that image?
I don’t think we separate ourselves from that, but my brothers and I have come into our own as men in the past few years, and that’s played a major part in who we are and how we’ve carried ourselves. It’s important for us to remember that we have values and morals, but each of us have taken the responsibility that we have as a man to be exactly who we’re supposed to be, whatever that means for us as individuals. We still have a good image; however, we’ve each made choices that have defined who we are as people. I’m comfortable with who I am as a man now, and I’m blessed to be in the position I am in life.
Gay boybanders and pop idols rarely come out at the height of their popularity. If a Jonas Brother came out, what impact might it have on your career?
The amazing thing about our fans is that they’re incredibly supportive about everything that we do, but I have to separate us from the equation because the three of us aren’t gay. If someone in our position came out, I’d hope that support would carry over and that their fans would love them just the same.
How to Succeed’s Radcliffe and Criss have both supported the Trevor Project and the It Gets Better campaign. Would you like to get involved with the cause?
Absolutely. Once I join the show, I plan to do all I can on a few different efforts, including Trevor Project and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. I want to inspire all young people, whether they’re diabetic, being bullied, or just having a hard time at home. Dealing with diabetes has been tough, but I’ve also been so blessed, and I feel I can give real encouragement and inspiration to young people dealing with similar issues.
What words of encouragement do you have for the young victims of antigay bullying?
Know that there are people out there who can comfort you and give you the support that you need, so tell an authority at school or wherever it is you’re being bullied. It really breaks my heart to see that. Bullying is unacceptable, and specifically with gay teens, it’s just wrong. Everyone needs to realize that this is a major issue, and we need to do anything we can to help. I’ve heard so many of our gay fans speak about how one of my songs, “Who I Am,” has inspired them. It’s a song that I wrote in a moment of coming into my own as a man, discovering how my whole world was setting up as an adult. It was great to see people connect to that song in their own way, specifically bullied gay teens who were encouraged to be exactly who they are.
As someone who was homeschooled, can you relate to feeling bullied or feeling different as a kid?
Well, I was in regular school until I was about 10 or 11, and I can specifically remember moments where my classmates didn’t quite understand what I was doing every day when I would go into the city and perform on Broadway. Feeling like an outsider in that sense was so frustrating for me, because they had no way of connecting, and I couldn’t connect with them either. People who are feeling bullied and people who feel like outsiders should talk to their parents and guardians about finding a place with likeminded people where they can feel accepted. That’s what I needed and that’s what I found with musical theater.
There are also a lot of JoBros haters out there, and it’s not uncommon to see you and your brothers called “fags” all over the Internet. How do you handle that negativity?
First of all, that word is not one that I use, and it upsets me when people use it, but that negativity doesn’t really get to me. Having haters is just a part of the business, and the more haters you have, the more people like you — that’s how I view it, because I try to see the positive in things. Sometimes it’s so ridiculous that you just have to laugh. You just have to keep your head up and keep going.
Even a big action star like Hugh Jackman gets teased on Saturday Night Live for doing Broadway musicals.
Exactly. Yeah, Hugh Jackman is the man, and I know that guy just lifts his head up and keeps rolling. Some people can be dense and don’t have the capacity to understand having culture be a part of your world. That just comes with the territory.
What can you tell me about your upcoming guest appearance on NBC’s Smash?
I’m very excited about it. I play a character named Lyle West, a former Broadway kid who grows up and comes into mainstream success and a lot of money.
So it’s a stretch.
[Laughs] Right. One of his old friends is the director of the show Marilyn, and he has a party for Lyle, and Angelica Huston’s character tries to get him to invest in the show. Angelica Huston is obviously a legend, so the scenes I got to do with her were really fun. The whole cast is incredible, and it was an amazing time. I also get to do a cover of a Michael Bublé song that I’m excited for people to hear.
Radcliffe was last seen on Broadway in Equus, which required him to be naked. If asked, would you have replaced him in that show too?
[Laughs] I love theater and I understand the difference between acting and who you are as a person. I don’t know that it’s something I would’ve done in the end, but I definitely would’ve considered it. You have to be open to everything.
The Advocate, February 2012 issue; extended online version.