Jake of All Trades – American actor Jake Borelli explains about his character from “Grey’s Anatomy” as part of the show’s first same-sex storyline between two male doctors with DAMAN
Primarily known for his portrayal of Dr. Levi Schmitt, one of the most intriguing new characters from “Grey’s Anatomy,” Jake Borelli is having a new life right now. At the show’s 15th season, Borelli is part of a new major LGBTQ storyline to the hit medical-drama series with the introduction of Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital’s first openly gay male character, Dr. Nico Kim (played by Alex Landi, one of the celeb that we featured on our Feb/Mar 2019 issue). In the series’ first same-sex relationship involving two male doctors, Borelli’s character sexual orientation was revealed when he shared a kiss in an elevator with Landi’s character. After the episode aired, Borelli
posted a photo on his Instagram with a message in which he came out to his fans. Now, as he came to terms with his own sexuality both off and onscreen, Borelli shares the personal story of his life.
DA MAN: Hi, Jake. Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. How are you doing these days?
Jake Borelli: Things have been wonderful, thanks! This past year in a half working for Shondaland has been crazy! It is one of the most rewarding periods in my life.
DA MAN: So, season 15 of “Grey’s Anatomy” is currently airing. In a nutshell, how would you describe the show’s latest run?
Jake Borelli: In this season, we’ve been tackling this wonderful storyline for the first gay male relationship between two doctors on the show in over 15 years! So, of course there’s been lots of changes and it been very exciting.
DA MAN: The show has been running for 15 seasons and it’s still one of the well-received and highest rated shows. What, in your honest opinion, is the secret behind this kind of success?
Jake Borelli: i think this show has been so successful for so long because the writers and the producers at Shondaland have always put their shoulders behind representation. They have been a force in this industry for telling stories that don’t normally get the light they deserve. Everyone can feel represented by this show in one way or another and I think that’s what makes the show so special.
DA MAN: In this show, you play as “Glasses” a.k.a. Dr. Levi Schmitt. Can you tell us more about your character’s background?
Jake Borelli: I think we’re still learning a lot about him, which i think is one of the coolest parts about this job. He is always evolving, growing and he’s getting more and more confident, as well as a better surgeon and a stronger person.
DA MAN: If we’re not mistaken, the first time we saw your character was in the season 14. Now, what would you say is the most significant way that Dr. Levi Schmitt has grown since his first appearance?
Jake Borelli: he has grown so much since season 14. He’s a lot more confident and he trips far less often and fumbles over his words less and less. I think a big part of this was the fact that he came out of the closet at the beginning of season 15. He has finally been able to live a part of himself that he didn’t allow himself to live for such a long time.
DA MAN: One thing for sure, Shondaland has created some of the greatest twists of all time to the characters. On that note, do you know what’s coming up for your character in the show as the story carry on?
Jake Borelli: Honestly i’m just as in the dark as you guys are. When I sit down for the table reads, I’m just as excited to see what’s next as the audience must be when they sit down in front of their TV’s every Thursday night. We’re kind of all in this together!
DA MAN: Meanwhile, just like in a real hospital, “Grey’s Anatomy” sees people coming and going each season. How do you feel about this part of the job?
Jake Borelli: It’s definitely an interesting part of the job. It is cool in a way because we always get the chance to see new stories and learn about new relationships, but just like life, we never know when those stories are going to end.
DA MAN: We featured Kevin McKidd a couple issues back. How has it been like working with him? In particular, having him as your director for the Fall Finale?
Jake Borelli: Kevin Mckidd is one of my favorite guys to work with. He’s been on the show for such a long time. He’s a great mentor. The Fall Finale was such a special episode for me personally and one the most important scenes i’ve ever filmed. It was so good to have someone there who has been a part of the show for so long and who knew exactly what I was going through.
DA MAN: Besides Kevin McKidd, we also featured Alex Landi on the last issue. What have you liked best about working with him?
Jake Borelli: I always feel very supported by Landi. he’s always open to try new things and I feel very safe with him, which is very important when we have such intimate scenes. You kind of need to trust each other when you’re making out with each other [laughs].
DA MAN: If one can say, over the years, the show has been on screen for so long and tackled so many issues. Were you surprised it had taken 15 seasons for the show to get its first male same-sex relationship?
Jake Borelli: Shondaland has always been a huge force behind telling these stories and there’s only so much you can do with one show and one group of characters. I’m just so glad we’re finally getting a storyline that I’m able to connect even closer with. I mean some of the most developed and nuanced queer relationships that I have ever seen on television have come from “Grey’s Anatomy,” so I am just so excited to be a small part of this show now.
DA MAN: Moving on to your personal side, we know that coming out can be nerve-wracking moment, wherever and however you’re doing it. And yet, you’re doing it in front of millions of people. If you can share to us, when did you decide that you were going to come out publicly to coincide with the scenes from “Grey’s Anatomy” airing?
Jake Borelli: I think it is important to remember that “coming out” isn’t something you only do once. It is something you do, or don’t do, with every new relationship throughout your life. I’ve come out countless times in the past 10 years to a ton of different people in my life, and it wasn’t until this past year, and my newfound platform on “Grey’s Anatomy,” that I was able to speak to a much larger group of people. It was these same people that, as my character came out of the closet, I began receiving messages from social media, sharing their stories and explaining to me how they were finally feeling represented by this story we were bringing to life on the show. I knew at that moment that this was bigger than me. It was my way of saying “you are not in this alone. I’m here with you, and we’re all in this together.”
DA MAN: What was running through your mind when you pressed send on that Instagram post?
Jake Borelli: I was nervous because I didn’t know how this would change my life. Coming out is a huge thing and no matter how many times you do it, it can be very scary. Being honest is one of the hardest things we can do as humans and being honest on such a large scale can be that much harder. But I knew in that moment that it was the right thing for me to do. After the initial feeling of being terrified, I felt a great sense of relief.
DA MAN: Does this fact—representing the LGBTQ community—adds extra pressure for you to play Dr. Levi Schmitt?
Jake Borelli: Definitely. I feel the pressure to get it right and to do a good job for our community. But I also know that our community is so vast and so nuanced that I try to remind myself that portraying a fully developed human being comes first, and the rest is just icing on the cake.
DA MAN: On that note, how do you think the LGBTQ community will respond—or have already responded—to your character?
Jake Borelli: So far I’ve been welcomed into the community with open arms and I’ve been hearing countless stories of people finally feeling represented and seen by this character and this storyline. It feels wonderful and I’m reminded every day of how important this show and this character truly is to a lot of people.
DA MAN: It’s safe to say that your character’s storyline is one of self discovery. What have you learned about yourself on this journey?
Jake Borelli: I’ve learned a lot from my character and putting your shoulder behind honesty and living your truth is something I will always take from this experience. After coming out myself, my confidence has grown 100%, similar to the way Levi has grown, and I think that’s a really beautiful thing.
DA MAN: Having said that, what was most important to you in bringing Dr. Levi Schmitt alive?
Jake Borelli: I think the most important thing about bringing any character to life, is to remember that they are human. To show all their courage, colors, as well as their flaws.
DA MAN: So, all in all, how would you describe your experience working on “Grey’s Anatomy”?
Jake Borelli: Grey’s Anatomy has been life changing for me. I learn something new every time I step on set. It feels like home and also a training ground where I get to watch people who are the best in their field do what they’re great at every day. I couldn’t have asked for a better show to grow on or better platform to tell my story.
Photography Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
Styling Lisette Mora
Grooming Castillo at The Only Agency Production Duovisionstudio
SHARE THIS ARTICLE