On Wednesday, the actor and singer unveiled the video for “Mama Told Me,” his latest dance-pop single. To create it, he called in a few famous friends ― including his “Glee” co-star Amber Riley, as well as Adam Lambert and Laverne Cox ― to share heartwarming photos of themselves with their moms over the years.
Newell, who is gender-nonconforming and uses the pronouns “he” and “him,” said the track is intended to be a self-affirming and timely tribute to mother figures, both biological and chosen. The video doesn’t define “mothers” as exclusively female, either, and features a gay male couple who gaze lovingly upon their kids.
“My father died when I was 6, so I was raised by my mom,” he told HuffPost in an email. “I paid homage to what she did for me and what motherhood is – instilling positivity into a child no matter what age, sharing wisdom, nurturing them, comforting them.”
“I also wanted to write an anthem for the house moms we have in the LGBTQ community, adoptive moms and anyone who is a maternal figure and nurturer,” he added.
Watch the “Mama Told Me” video below.
Newell, best known to audiences as Wade “Unique” Adams on “Glee,” has had a prolific 2020 thus far. In January, he returned to network TV in NBC’s acclaimed musical dramedy “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist,” also starring Skylar Astin and Jane Levy. He followed that up a month later with the release of “Boy, You Can Keep It,” his first solo single in four years.
The 27-year-old has also established himself as a formidable presence on the New York stage as of late. In 2017, he made his Broadway debut in the Tony-winning revival of “Once on This Island.” Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, he performed at Carnegie Hall in “I’m Every Woman: Divas on Stage” with the New York Pops and starred in a concert staging of the musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
“I don’t think who I am [has] ever been represented on any platform other than me,” Newell told HuffPost in February. “I’ve made this lane for myself in a way. My purpose is to educate.”
“I’m a workaholic in the strongest sense,” he continued. “I love to complain about working — that’s how much I love working. But everything is now very streamlined as to what I want out of my career and my life.”