JAKE BORELLI [GREY'S ANATOMY]
WORDS BY IRVIN RIVERA
When Ohio-born actor Jake Borelli opened up and shared his truth to the world last year, the world embraced him back. Jake did a brave act by immediately following the TV coming-out of his Grey’s Anatomy character “Glasses” and was able to further open the continuous dialogue among the queer community.
Borelli, who played Freddie in Netflix’s Reality High, Wolfgang from The Thundermans and now Dr Levi Schmidtt in Grey’s Anatomy’s 14th and 15th season shared some of his audition and acting experiences in this interview.
We also learn a little bit more about the actor, what’s next for Schmico and discover how he and his character are alike in many ways.
How and when did acting start for you?
I started acting when I was super young. I did a bunch of community theatre in Columbus Ohio at this theatre called Columbus Children’s Theatre. Back then it was just for fun. I was just playing around and finding something to do and I started falling in love with it in Middle School and Highschool (at that theatre) and I started auditioning for commercials and TV and I got bit by the bug with the idea that this could be a career so I moved out to LA.
What is your most memorable audition story?
A lot of my memorable auditions are auditioning for commercials because they made me do the craziest things. You’re like sitting in a chair on a completely empty room and they’re like “Ok, so in one take, imagine there’s a monster here but you’re physically eating a hamburger but then you’re also running but don’t get out of the chair.” and then you have to do all of that in one take. They ask you to do the craziest things.
If you’re not acting what keeps you busy?
I love camping. I love going out to the desert or up the Big Sur and hiking; things like that. I am also super crafty. This summer I’ve been embroidering which is super in right now and I am trying to get it down. I also paint. Other than that, I love hanging out with friends and have wine and game night.
Let’s talk about your Grey’s Anatomy character Levi Schmidtt a.k.a. “Glases”. Tell us a little bit about your character especially to those who haven’t seen you in the show yet.
Levi is part of the comic relief of the show. He is bubbly and fumbly and he is sort of getting his sea legs still at the hospital. He is learning. He comes in from the bottom of the barrel as an intern and over the last couple of years he got better and better at being a surgeon.
What’s your approach in playing Levi’s character?
Honestly, Levi is a lot like me. So the first thing that I do is see the similarities between he and I. We’re both a little neurotic and a little klutzy and I lean into that. A lot of his klutziness has just come from me. There’s been multiple times where I’ve just fallen over on set by accident and they just put it in the show. So that’s an easy in for me. I’ve been playing him for two years now and he sort of just comes out of me. It’s been a blast playing him.
What’s the best part about playing his character?
Honestly my relationship with the audience has been super great especially this year because Levi came out of the closet. There’s been this wonderful dialogue about queerness on network television that I’ve gotten to have with a lot of queer youth and just queer people in general around the world, which is something that I never thought I would be in a position to do. So that’s a really great thing that I think came out of Dr Levi.
Speaking of the coming out story, how was it after that? How was the journey after publicly coming out?
Publicly coming out has been crazy. It’s being vulnerable on a level that I never experienced before. But it also comes with a lot of really great things. I get to talk to so many people that I never would’ve gotten to speak to about the LGBTQ community and also to speak about what it is to be proud and courageous. The queer community has welcomed me with open arms from the get-go. Honestly I didn’t know what their reaction would be but it’s been wonderful.
What’s next for Shcmico?
Nobody knows what’s next for Schmico. Honestly this is Shondaland. This is Grey’s anatomy. Anything can happen. I ship Schmico as much as the audience does. Right now we’re in a middle of a fight. Hopefully we’d make up. I am also ready to see Levi grow. I am excited to see him step further out of the closet to see what happens next.
If you’re a book, what book would you be and why?
I would for sure be a Self-Help book because it’s pretty much all I read. I am trying to become less neurotic on a daily basis so hopefully that’s working. I also just love talking to people and see what they’re going through so I would love to be a Self-Help book.
See Jake as Dr. Levi Schmitt in Grey’s Anatomy.