Perez Hilton launched his celebrity entertainment blog PerezHilton.com in 2004, and has since created a media empire that includes television, radio, and music. Now, he's making his New York stage debut in the Off-Broadway hit NEWSical the Musical at Theatre Row's Kirk Theatre, September 8-October 7.
TheaterMania recently spoke with Hilton about his acting background, changes in the show, which celebrity friends he expects to see in the audience, why Oprah inspires him, and his career aspirations.
THEATERMANIA: You graduated from NYU with a BFA in Drama. Did you ever consider acting for a living?
PEREZ HILTON: I gave acting a shot when I graduated, but it didn't work out. Tom D'Angora, the show's producer, had the idea of casting me, and of course I said yes. I really wanted to be in a musical. I put the energy out there. Now, I show up on time and I do what I am told
TM: How are you managing rehearsals while keeping up with your blog and RadioPerez?
PH: I'm not going to lie; I am completely exhausted and about to pass out! I am not getting much sleep. Rehearsals were tough, because you have very long days and then I had to fit everything else in, but as the performances begin, I am going to be on a more normal schedule. I am also working out a lot, since I am showing off a lot of skin in this musical. I need to get this bikini body ready!
TM: Can you tell us about your songs?
PH: Right after the opening number is my big solo about the Perez Hilton phenomenon. It's light-hearted, and mentions Jennifer Aniston, Miley Cyrus, and Justin Bieber. There is also a Chick-fil-A satire, a Mitt Romney song, and a number where I play Paul Ryan. In fact, Rick Crom, the show's creator, has actually added a whole bunch of songs. He is very funny, and very receptive to ideas. A lot of my ideas have given birth to songs.
TM: You have a picture of Oprah Winfrey in your dressing room for encouragement. How does she inspire you?
PH: Oprah genuinely wants to make the world a better place, and I want to do the same. I also want to be silly, sassy, and fun. I'm also putting up a picture of Angelina Jolie holding a gun from the movie Wanted. That will remind me to be fearless and badass. I have a few others coming as well. I don't want a boring dressing room!
TM: Are you expecting to see any celebrity friends in the audience?
PH: Definitely. Megan Hilty said she would come, and I am sure some great people will be at my official opening on September 17. But more importantly, I hope casting directors will come and see that I don't suck. I would love to come back to New York and do more theater. When I finish performances here, I plan on heading back to Los Angeles -- unless I get cast in The Book of Mormon!
TM: What are some of your favorite shows that you've seen recently? PH: I liked Into The Woods, but One Man, Two Guvnors was my favorite so far. And I liked The Best Man -- John Stamos is very dreamy, isn't he?
TM: How do you see your career growing and expanding?
PH: I would love to do more television, scripted or non-scripted. This summer, I have regularly appeared on CBS' The Talk, and I would love to do a talk show. I also did an episode of Glee earlier this year and that was fun. But I would still continue my website. I've been doing it for eight years, and I love it. I would never give it up.
TM: What do you consider your biggest accomplishment?
PH: Being able to move my mother and sister from Miami to Los Angeles and employ them. And the fact that I was able to turn my hobby into a job.
TM: And what is your biggest regret?
PH: In the past, I hurt a lot of people in my attempts of being funny. I was trying to entertain everyone, and I was nasty. I can still entertain people, but now, I want to do it in a way that's not mean or hurtful.