Glee character: Shelby Cocoran
Date of birth: May 30, 1971
Birth name: Idina Kim Mentzel
Hometown: Long Island, NY
Currently residing in: Los Angeles
Education: NYU, B.F.A. in Drama
Like many of the Glee cast members, Idina has an extensive background in theatre. Like, really extensive. Her first professional theatre role was in the original cast of Rent, which landed on Broadway and earned her a Tony nomination as Best Featured Actress in a Musical. Not a bad way to start! She later won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her role of Elphalba in Wicked, where she starred on Broadway opposite fellow Glee guest-star Kristin Chenoweth. She has appeared in such films as Enchanted, starring opposite Patrick Dempsey and Amy Adams. She has also had a career as a recording artist; she performed at Lilith Fair in 1998, and continues to write her own music. Her songs have been used on Desperate Housewives and the film Beowulf. On Glee, she will play the coach of Vocal Adrenaline, but had at one point expressed interest in playing the role of Rachel Barry's mother. How awesome would that have been, considering both the physical resemblance between the two and the fact that Rachel has performed "Defying Gravity," which Idina made famous in Wicked! Idina is married to actor Taye Diggs, her co-star in the original production of Rent, and they have a son, Walker. It's not often that you hear about a Hollywood couple that doesn't constantly crave the spotlight and is able to have a somewhat-normal relationship! Bravo, Idina!
Random factoid: During her third-to-last Broadway performance of Wicked, she fell through a trap door and cracked a rib. Ouch! The injury prevented her from performing in the next day's show, although she did make a special out-of-costume appearance at that performance, performed her final song, and received a five-minute-long standing ovation. Talk about a dedicated performer! (Although did the crowd really have to force her to stand up during that five-minute ovation? The woman had a broken rib, for goodness sake!)