Clovis East grad Chris Colfer earned an Emmy nomination Thursday for his performance as Kurt Hummel on the Fox series "Glee."
He is the first actor from the central San Joaquin Valley to get an Emmy nomination as a TV series regular since Mike Connors, who was nominated for three in the early 1970s as the star of the private-eye series "Mannix."
"It's surreal," Colfer said in a phone interview Thursday afternoon from his home in Southern California. "I was in bed when I got a call from my publicist at 5:52 [a.m.] and got the good news. I have been smiling nonstop."
Colfer, 20, was nominated by the Television Academy for best supporting actor in a comedy series. It was one of 19 nods for the Fox series about a ragtag group of students in a high school glee club. The show's mix of comedy, drama and musical numbers made it an instant sensation with critics and viewers.
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"Glee" also is in the running for outstanding comedy series. Acting nominations also went to Lea Michele, Matthew Morrison, Jane Lynch, Kristin Chenoweth and Mike O'Malley.
This is Colfer's first professional acting job, playing a role that "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy wrote specifically for him. The most flamboyant member of the glee club, his passion is singing -- but he also tries desperately to relate to his football-loving father.
Colfer called his real-life parents -- Tim and Karyn Colfer -- at 6 a.m.
"To say we're proud of Christopher is an understatement," Karyn Colfer said. "This is what dreams are made of. We are honored to be on the sidelines watching it all unfold for him."
Karyn Colfer said she's been impressed with how her son has handled his sudden ascent to fame. Along with producing 22 episodes in the first season and recording several hit albums, the cast already has appeared in a stage show and on "Oprah."
Colfer said he's remained grounded because he came from such a low point: All his life people told him he would never find success in acting.
"I was teased every day in high school. I also know how fortunate we are and that with this business, it could all be taken away tomorrow," Colfer said. "Plus, I'm too awkward to get a big head. I'm a huge nerd."
Colfer started working with the Good Company Players when he was 10, appearing in "My Heart Is in the Highlands," "A Christmas Story" and "Dad's Christmas Miracle." The company's managing director, Dan Pessano, said Colfer was not only a skilled actor but had a great fascination for all parts of theater, from set design to lighting.
As a member of the Clovis East forensics team, Colfer competed in the humorous interpretation, original prose and poetry and dramatic interpretation categories, often performing pieces he had written. He qualified for the national championships in 2008, his senior year, but withdrew because he had the "Glee" audition.
He joked that while in high school he never earned a Danny Award -- recognition given out by the Clovis school district for top acting performances.
The young actor faces tough competition for the Emmy. The other nominees in his category are Neil Patrick Harris in "How I Met Your Mother," Jon Cryer in "Two and a Half Men" and three in the comedy show "Modern Family": Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet and Ty Burrell.
Colfer joins a select group of show-business people from the Valley who have received Emmy nominations. They include:
Fresno's Roy Christopher, who has been nominated 37 times and won 10 Emmys in the outstanding art direction for the variety, music or nonfiction programming category.
Noted Fresno animator Phil Roman, who earned six Emmys for his work on "Garfield" and "The Simpsons."
Singer and actress Audra McDonald, who was nominated in 2008 for her work in the ABC film "A Raisin in the Sun."
The 62nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards will be held on Aug. 29.
Colfer has no idea what he will wear to the show, but he has a good idea who will accompany him.
"I think my mom would kill me if she didn't get to go."