LOS ANGELES -- Clovis East graduate Chris Colfer is the darling of the awards season, which includes a best supporting actor nomination at Sunday night's "68th Golden Globe Awards."
As gay teen Kurt Hummel, Colfer's sung and danced as much as any other member of the talented "Glee" cast on the Fox musical/comedy this season. But it's his acting of powerful storylines -- from emotional moments with his father (Mike O'Malley) to dealing with never-ending bullying -- that's earned him accolades.
"I love the dramatic scenes that I get to do in the show because it's fun. It's like candy. You get to be gritty and gross, and any time Kurt's having an emotional breakdown, I'm loving it. Good fun for me," Colfer says.
"But I have to give all the credit to the writers."
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What those writers have done is taken Colfer's character -- who on past comedies would have just been an over-the-top source of jokes -- and created serious storylines around Kurt being gay. It's those emotional moments that got the attention of the Hollywood Foreign Press, the organization behind the Golden Globes, and legions of fans.
Colfer has had some memorable moments with fans.
"I had a little boy, I don't know if he was gay. He was 6 and no one knows they're gay when they're 6," Colfer says. "He came up to me and gave me a hug and then broke down crying. Then I started crying. I got a message from a boy in Nebraska who said watching Kurt makes me feel like I'm not alone.
"I just think the vulnerability of the character is what touches people and makes them love him."
Colfer knows that a lot of responsibility comes with playing Kurt -- his Facebook page is filled with hundreds of comments to reinforce the point.
Because his own high school days were emotionally tough, Colfer has never had trouble finding the emotional notes to play the role. He was a huge fan of "Wicked" star Kristin Chenoweth, and he remembers times when he started to write her a letter. He understands why so many fans have reached out to him for support or advice.
His confidants while in high school were Clovis East history teacher Jenny Herrick and his grandmother, Fawnda Runyon. But it was his speech teacher, Mikendra McCoy, who had the biggest influence on him.
He recalls how on the first day of class she told her students: "As long as you truly embrace who you are, no one can ever use you against you."
That philosophy holds true for Colfer and Kurt, especially in the emotionally powerful scenes with O'Malley, who plays Burt Hummel.
"If I had Chris' talent when I was 19 years old, I would already have a couple of Golden Globes," O'Malley says. "He's so talented and so available in those scenes that we've done together.
"The beautiful thing about acting with him is when you're in a scene with him, he's doing all the work. It's very easy to react to someone whose emotional life is so available to them."
O'Malley suggests the reason that the character has resonated with so many people is that the writers have given Kurt so much dignity -- even in the face of emotional strife and social conflicts.
"Modern Family" star Jesse Tyler Ferguson is a huge Colfer fan.
"I just think his work is so fantastic on the show and so socially relevant. With the gay characters on our show, it's great to be funny and entertain people," Ferguson says.
"But if your show can also have a little bit of social relevance or social ramifications are being made from your show, it's really the cherry on top of the already amazing ice cream. And this is a perfect example of that."
That's a lot of pressure to put on a young actor who only a couple of years ago was just worrying about getting through high school. "Glee" co-star Matthew Morrison's constantly amazed by Colfer.
"He just graduated high school before he started this show, and watching him just grow as an actor, it's so amazing to watch what he does," Morrison says.