Jenna Noelle Ushkowitz was born on April 28, in the year 1986, in the city of Seoul, South Korea. When she had turned three months old, she was adopted by a
New York family and raised in East Meadow, New York. As she said in an interview, she did not have questions about her biological parents because she felt a strong sense of belonging to her adopted family. Though, she admitted that she was “a little scared” about contacting her real parents. She has written about her adoption experience in an essay in a book for children, “The Adventures of Squirky the Alien #5: How Do You Get To The Garden Galaxy?” by a Singapore author, “Melanie Lee.” Her parents are Judie and Brat. Her father is a transportation sales manager, and her mother is a house wife. They later managed her work when she started off with her acting career. Ushkowitz had been raised as a Catholic.
She had joined Parkway Elementary School and later on, she had joined The Holy Trinity Diocesan High School, a school in Hicksville, Long Island known for its strong theatre department. The school was managed by the Catholic community. During her high school days, she had participated in many musicals, including “Les Misérables.” She has also appeared in The Baker's Wife, as Little Red Riding Hood in Into the Woods, Penny in Honk!, and Romaine Patterson in The Laramie Project. In 2004, she graduated from high school and joined Marymount Manhattan College. In 2007, she completed her graduation with a degree of Bachelor of Arts in the subject, theatre arts, with a major in performance and a minor in musical theatre. From the age of three, Ushkowitz was into the field of acting. She worked as a child artist in “Sesame Street.”
She bagged her first role in the Broadway musical in “The King and I.” At the age of thirteen, she sang the American national anthem at The Madison Square Garden at a New York Knicks game. In 2009, she had been cast for the role of “
Tina” in Ryan Murphy’s Glee. She has given solo performances on songs like True Colors, I Follow Rivers, Because You Loved Me, Gangnam Style, I Don't Know How to Love Him, Hung Up, and I Kissed a Girl. She has also appeared in live concerts with her co-stars from Glee in the United States, Canada, England, and Ireland. In 2011, she had a brief appearance in "Marry the Night,” a music video of
Lady Gaga. Her first book, “Choosing Glee,” an autobiography, was released on May 14, 2013. In 2014, she had been cast as “Jeannie Ryan” in “Hair.” It was a Hollywood Bowl production.
In 2015, she produced a documentary named as “Twinsters”. The documentary was about Samantha and Anais, identical twin sisters, who were separated at the time of birth and met each other through Facebook. In 2015, Ushkowitz, being the first Asian woman, was cast as “Julia Sullivan” in “The Wedding Singer.” Apart from these, she has also worked in the musical, “Hello again,” as Marie, the nurse. She gave her voice as “Ms. guided” in the animated film “
Captain Underpants.” In 2016, she founded the podcast network, with Will Malnati. The network debuted “Infinite Positivities.” It is a show that is hosted by Ushkowitz that contains discussions of topics which are taken from her book Choosing Glee, and conversations with people who inspire her. The guests invited on the show include authors, experts and fellow artists.
In each episode, she talks about the ways in which one can lead life positively. In 2016, she played the character of “
Dawn” from “Kimiko Glenn” in the “Waitress,” a Broadway production. In 2014, Ushkowitz started “Kindred: The Foundation for Adoption.” It was created to provide domestic and international adoptees and their families (both adoptive and biological) with services such as translation, travel, and support for those who wish to reunite. It was after kindred that she thought of finding and contacting her biological parents. Besides Kindred, Ushkowitz had worked for many other causes as well. With Glee co-star
Kevin McHale, she posed for the NOH8 Campaign. She has also been a long time supporter of conservation of oceans. Currently, Ushkowitz, fondly called as “Crispy,” is a famous actress, singer and a host, and finds “
Britney Spears” like her idol.