YA Runs A 5K Launches! An Interview with Glee Star, Jenna Ushkowitz

This year, we’re launching YA Runs A 5K in a big way! YA Runs A 5K is a campaign in which we run/walk a 5k and raise money for the non-profit organization, We Need Diverse Books. YA Runs A 5K is currently raising money to support the BJ Joseph Grant as part of the We Need Diverse Books Grants & Awards program.

We’ve got TV star and Broadway star, Jenna Ushkowitz! You may have seen her on Fox’s hit series Glee or in Spring Awakening on Broadway. But today’s talk with Jenna is all about wellness and literature. Here we go!


YA: So I’m going to ask you a question that you asked one of your guests on your Infinite Positivities Podcast and switch it up a bit. If you hosted a healthy dinner, what would you make and who would you invite?

Jenna: (laughs) Oooo! Interesting…well…I would definitely invite Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss. I’d also invite Julie Plec (The Vampire Diaries) – she’s one of my favorite showrunners. And…definitely Ryan Gosling (laughs)… and Stephen Sondheim.

YA: Oh! Stephen. Do you listen to any Broadway when you’re exercising?

Jenna: I do listen to Hamilton when I’m running. I love Hamilton. I’ve gotten to see it three times..I should give somebody else a chance (laughs)… 

YA: (laughs)

Jenna: What would I make…hmm…I’d probably start off making a light salad…maybe a kale salad with lemon and olive oil with salt and pepper and then a roasted chicken with maybe some sweet potatoes on the side. I’m trying to think of a good dessert but I’m not a big sugar girl so I don’t really know what I would serve. Maybe some frozen yogurt or something like that (laughs).

YA: And what would you say are your favorite healthy foods and snacks in general?

Jenna: I love the Babybel white cheeses, I love a hard boiled egg with dijon mustard. I eat lots of sweet potatoes and when I’m on a strict diet, I’m pretty good when it comes to no carbs. I really like black cherry soda water and I love a good kale lunch or salad. Things like that. There are so many delicious things to eat that are healthy and fill you up.

YA: So what are some of your favorite ways to stay fit?

Jenna: I’m a big work out buff. I love working out…it’s a love hate relationship but I do a lot of high intensity training and I run a bit outside when I can. I like to spin and do flywheel… I like to try new things just to keep it interesting and it sort of shocks your body into not doing the same things all of the time.


YA: So what was the first book or who was the first author you remember falling in love with?

Jenna: Oh my goodness, I actually do remember very vividly reading Roald Dahl as a kid. Growing up, I didn’t read a lot in high school and college since we already had so much reading to do (laughs) but when I got back into it recently during Glee times, I fell in love with John Green and Lauren Oliver and who wrote The Leftovers…Tom Perrotta! And Malcolm Gladwell. Those are some of the authors that I love.

YA: How often would you say you’re reading now when you’re not busy?

Jenna: When I travel, I’ll read a book on the flight and I’ll read probably two books a month. Recently, I was reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin which are both in the realm of my podcast and both people I look up to. Also, recently I read Serial Winner by Larry Weidel and The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown. I also loved The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein…I actually got a tattoo based off of one of his lines.

YA: You did?

Jenna: I did. You are everything and everything is you and I realize that’s also a song (laughs) but it really resonated with me so I got a tattoo.

YA: So what was your favorite part about putting together your book, Choosing Glee: 10 Rules to Finding Inspiration, Happiness, and the Real You and can we expect another book from you soon?

Jenna: Definitely not soon (laughs) but in the future, if I feel like I have something more to say then I probably would write another one? I just don’t have anything just yet. For me, Choosing Glee, I felt like I had something to say and something to share and it was very organic. The best part was…it was kind of a mind game for me because I have quite a selective memory so for me, it was being able to remember these memories and being able to tell those stories. It was quite therapeutic for me to go back and revisit those times.

YA: Now I’m dying to know who was a big reader on the set of Glee.

Jenna: Melissa Benoist (Supergirl) never not had a book in her hands. Kevin (McHale) is a big reader and he reads off of his kindle. Heather (Morris) was a reader as well. A lot of us, because we had so much time to pass in between shots, we would say like, “What are you reading? Give it to me after.” (laughs)

YA: Finally, if you could only recommend one book to someone, what would it be?

Jenna: Whoa. The Fault in Our Stars. I was weeping like a child when I read that and this was before the movie came out or anything like that. It was one of the first times that I’ve had that experience where I read the book long before the movie came out. I was in love with that book. It’s my favorite John Green book.

To redeem a signed copy of Jenna’s book, Choosing Glee(ONE AVAILABLE) visit the YA Runs A 5K Win Page for more details and Donate to YA Runs A 5K here.

To walk/run in the superhero themed Super Run 5K in Philly on June 11, 2016, register under Team Thread Sisters here.  

Subscribe to Infinite Positivities with Jenna Ushkowitz Podcast on iTunes.

Follow Jenna on Twitter.