Darren Criss Biography
Last updated: 06/19/2012 12:00:00 PM
Darren Criss is a passionate actor/musician/songwriter who has—in the course of one year—gone from YouTube sensation to a 4-time Billboard charting musician and composer to joining the cast of FOX's Emmy® Award-winning series Glee. He currently stars as Blaine Anderson, a charismatic and openly-gay student from a rival glee club, the Dalton Academy Warblers. Criss’ breakout performance of Katy Perry's “Teenage Dream” in his first episode set a milestone for Glee, debuting at #1 on Billboard for the first time in the show’s history and selling over 200,000 tracks in its first week.
Quickly emerging as one the most promising actors and musicians of his generation, Criss made his television debut in 2009 as Josh Burton on ABC’s Eastwick, with Rebecca Romijn, Lindsay Price and Jaime Ray Newman, and also appeared in CBS’ Cold Case.
Growing up in San Francisco, Criss played a variety of instruments including violin, guitar, piano, and drums. He played drums in a small band with his brother Chuck (now member of indie band Freelance Whales) before he went on to pursue his acting degree at the University of Michigan.
In his senior year of college, Criss and his friends created a Harry Potter musical parody entitled, A Very Potter Musical as a fun project for their classmates, friends and other Harry Potter fans. Along with starring as the boy wizard himself, Criss also lent several of his songs to be used in the show. Within weeks of posting the musical online, it became a YouTube hit, garnering millions of views and musical theater-world attention.
Using A Very Potter Musical as a springboard, Criss and his writing partners started StarKid Productions. Within a year, they wrote and produced subsequent online hits, Me and My Dick and A Very Potter Sequel, the latter of which he wrote all the music and lyrics for. As a result, the StarKid brand has grown to become just as popular as the shows themselves, spawning an enormous cult following from all over the world.
Having recently established their home base in Chicago, StarKid Productions will release their next original musical comedy in February. Entitled Starship, Criss will again be fully responsible for the music and lyrics.
Criss and StarKid Productions debuted on three separate Billboard charts – through three separate releases – all within the past year. These include the #11 spot on Billboard's Top Cast Albums with their cast soundtrack for the original musical “Me and My Dick,” along with the #19 spot on the Top Compilations chart for “A Very StarKid Album,” and the #30 spot on Billboard's Heatseekers chart with Criss’ self-released EP “Human.” With much success on the music charts, Criss has defied what many try to achieve under various music genres. “Human” was released as an acoustic collection of 5 original songs, differing greatly from the more Broadway-esque music found on “Me and My Dick” and the pop-rock stylings featured on “A Very Starkid Album.”
When not writing music for StarKid, he continues to write music for himself as an artist, and pending time and availability intends to begin work on a long-anticipated full length studio album. As a songwriter, Criss has been able to draw from his life, relationships, loves, and quirky outlook to pen heartfelt, tender, and raw songs—all of which range from the styles of soul, folk, rock, jazz and even classic show tunes.