Actor, Singer, and Songwriter
University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance alumnus Darren Criss’ illustrious career spans film, music, stage, and television. Born in San Francisco, Mr. Criss studied acting at the American Conservatory Theater’s Young Conservatory. He earned his B.F.A. degree (2009) at U-M where he acted, directed, and composed for the Basement Arts theater group. His final show, a parody now known as A Very Potter Musical, gained internet fame and sparked StarKid Productions, which he co-founded. The company has produced more than 10 original shows. His career took a leap when he was cast as Blaine Anderson on Fox’s Glee in 2010. His debut version of “Teenage Dream” topped charts and turned his guest-star character into a regular for five seasons of the Emmy and Golden Globe winning show. Other TV credits include American Horror Story: Hotel and The Flash. He will appear in Ryan Murphy’s The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story in January 2018. Mr. Criss starred in Broadway revivals of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in 2012 and Hedwig and the Angry Inch in 2015. He has done voice-overs for, among others, The Wind Rises, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, and Transformers: Robots in Disguise. He has given solo concerts across North America and internationally. He also performed at President Barack Obama’s 2013 inauguration. Mr. Criss is a spokesperson for the United Nations Children’s Fund and advocates for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning community. Among other honors, he received Variety magazine’s Power of Youth Philanthropy Award and a Teen Choice Award.
For his wide-ranging contributions to the performing arts and his social advocacy, the University of Michigan presents to Darren Criss its Bicentennial Alumni Award.