Darren Everett Criss is an American actor, singer and songwriter. He received Emmy and Golden Globe acting awards for his leading role in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story. He has also appeared on Broadway and in film, and has released several recordings as a soloist and in a band. Take a look below for 31 fun and interesting facts about Darren Everett Criss.
1. Criss was born in San Francisco, California, the youngest child of Cerina and Charles William Criss, an investment banker and a patron of the arts.
2. He has an older brother, Charles “Chuck” Criss, who is a member of the band Freelance Whales.
3. Criss is Eurasian – his mother is a native of Cebu, Philippines, while his father, a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is of English, German, and Irish descent.
4. Criss was raised primarily in San Francisco, apart from 1988–92, when the family resided in Honolulu, Hawaii, where his father, Charles started EastWest Bank, serving as chairman and CEO.
5. Criss attended Roman Catholic schools.
6. He completed his elementary education at Stuart Hall for Boys, and later graduated from Saint Ignatius College Preparatory in 2005.
7. In 2009, Criss obtained his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Michigan, majoring in Theater Performance and minoring in Musicology and Italian.
8. Criss’ interest in music started in early childhood; at age five, he began taking violin lessons and was classically trained for the next fifteen years.
9. Criss taught himself how to play other instruments, including guitar, piano, mandolin, harmonica, and drums.
10. In high school, Criss immersed himself in music – he held the position of concertmaster in the school orchestra, he fronted his own band, and was voted “most likely to win a Grammy” by his peers.
11. When he was fifteen, Criss began learning music composition and wrote his first song, which he later used as the title track of his first EP Human, released in 2009.
12. At age ten, he was accepted into the American Conservatory Theater (Young Conservatory program) where he studied theater performance throughout his formative years.
13. At St Ignatius, he was a member of the performing arts program and acted in work, including, The Music Man, The Diary of Anne Frank, and Fiddler on the Roof.
14. He was active as both an actor and director in the University of Michigan’s student-run theater organization Basement Arts.
15. In 2008, he spent a semester abroad studying Italian theater at the Accademia dell’Arte in Arezzo, Italy.
16. Criss made his professional stage debut at the age of ten as Cesario in 42nd Street Moon’s production of Fanny (1997), then played Mauro in the Richard Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim musical Do I Hear a Waltz? (1998), and Beauregard Calhoun in Babes in Arms (1999).
17. Upon receiving his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2009, Criss, along with some friends and classmates from the University of Michigan, co-founded StarKid Productions, a musical theater company.
18. In January 2012, Criss made his Broadway debut, replacing Daniel Radcliffe in the role of J. Pierrepont Finch in the revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying for a three-week engagement at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre.
19. Criss started his television career with a five-episode arc playing the character of Josh Burton on Eastwick in 2009.
20. Criss portrayed Blaine Anderson, on the Fox television series Glee. He made his first appearance in season two in the episode “Never Been Kissed”, which aired on November 9, 2010.
21. Blaine attended Dalton Academy and was lead singer of its glee club, The Dalton Academy Warblers.
22. He was nominated for an Emmy Award for writing the song “This Time” one in a handful of the show’s original songs over its six-season run, for the Glee finale, “Dreams Come True”.
23. On September 7, 2012, Criss made his feature film debut in the comedy Girl Most Likely. It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and was released nationwide on July 19, 2013.
24. Criss began his solo music career while attending the University of Michigan. Playing in small venues, he developed his own musical repertoire which today consists of standards from the Great American Songbook, contemporary songs, Disney songs, and his own compositions.
25. On July 20, 2010, Criss released an independently produced EP called Human.
26. In January 2013, Criss performed for US President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden at the inaugural balls of the 57th Presidential Inauguration.
27. Criss is an investor and partner of The Motley, a California-based men’s grooming e-tailer.
28. Criss is a co-founder of Elsie Fest, a music festival which features Broadway and pop music acts. The first annual show was held on September 27, 2015, in New York City.
29. Criss is an advocate for LGBT rights, and is an active supporter of The Trevor Project, the leading national organization focused on suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. Criss is the recipient of Variety’s Power of Youth Philanthropy award for his contributions to The Trevor Project.
30. Criss has been a spokesperson for various organizations, including Rock the Vote, UNICEF, We Day and Festival of New American Musicals.
31. Criss recorded the Bob Dylan song “New Morning”, featuring his brother, Chuck Criss, for Amnesty International. It was part of the compilation album Chimes of Freedom: Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International, released on January 24, 2012.