Glee cast come out to support Kindred Adoption

Glee wrapped its final series just over a week ago (::sob::) and on Tuesday, March 3rd some of the cast and crew came out to support former co-star Jenna Ushkowitz at the official launch party for her latest endeavor, a non-profit called Kindred Adoption that Ushkowitz has founded with fellow adoptee, Samantha Futerman.

Kindred Adoption HostsFuterman was inspired to create the foundation after a girl who looked just like her contacted her through Facebook, and the two soon discovered they were identical twins who had been separated at birth and adopted by two different families; Futerman in the United States, and her twin sister in France. They decided to make a documentary about their story, Twinsters, which premieres soon at the South By Southwest Festival (see trailer below).

“The response from Kickstarter was overwhelming, positively overwhelming,” says Futerman. “We got messages from adoptees all over the world, every continent, contacting us saying  [our story] was great and inspiring them, and I realized that I didn’t have that growing up, and I said that I need to be involved in this community, and I need to reach out to them and say your story inspired me as well. That inspired me to be a part of it, and I talked to Jenna and she said you know what, me as well.”

Futerman’s story is something you probably wouldn’t have seen 10 years ago, before the advent of Facebook and platforms like it, and Kindred is utilizing the wide variety of opportunities available to them in this digital age to bring support to other adoptees around the world.  “We have a genertic testing discount for any adoptee who wants to do DNA or diesease teasing. We have a blog that’s already been launched. We’re going to launch hopefully after this event an online platform for online support for anyone in the adoptive community. In addition we’re developing subsidized grants for adoptee travel for those DNA and disease tests and for translation services as well.”

Kindred Adoption - Samantha FutermanThe event on March 3rd was an official launch party for Kindred which featured live performances by Ushkowitz and Sarah Hyland (Modern Family), who sang The Beatles “Let It Be”, and Ushkowitz’s former Glee c0-star, Alex Newell gave a show stopping rendition of “Home” from The Wiz.

The Glee cast and crew in attendance were in high spirits after wrapping their final season of the musical comedy. “I thought I was prepared for it, but I really wasn’t,” says Ushkowitz. “You know I don’t think anyone can prepare for something like that. It was really emotional because we’ve been through so much together, and we’re a family, and we know we’re going to see each other but leaving that choir room for the last time was really sad.”

A vast majority of the cast who had been involved in the show since the beginning was brought back for what will be the final performance of the series. One last performance on the McKinley choir room stage. “That was fun,” says Newell, who played transgender student Unique Adams. “It was really inspiring to see everyone that started the show come back for this one cause, and have this one thing that we all have in common, this one life changing thing for us all essentially, just being around the energy of that was amazing in itself.”

Jacob Artist was one of the cast members brought back after an extensive hiatus from the show, and so the experience feels especially poignant for him. “It was so nice just to kind of have that closure, and to be able to see everybody. It was a nice family reunion and we had everyone there. It was literally everybody from day one of the show to the end was there. It was really really good to be back and to say goodbye to the whole Glee set and the Glee family with everybody.”

Beyond memories, the cast will have some personal mementos to keep with them. “They gave away little pieces of the choir room floor because they had to take down the entire set,” says Artist, “And so they gave us all these little pieces and it says Glee on it 2009-2015, so that was special.” Ushkowitz is waiting on a delivery of the clock that adorned the walls of the choir room for 6 years, but Newell took perhaps the most fabulous memento of all. “Of course I took something from the set,” he exclaims. “I took my entire shoe collection, that’s all I would ever need.”

Today marks only two weeks until the finale of the show, and there’s another big milestone to be noted. Tonight will feature a song written by Darren Criss (Blaine Anderson). Criss has two songs being featured in these final few episodes. “Well he’s so talented,” says Co-Executive Producer and Writer on the show, Michael Hitchcock when asked how this came about. “He’s so prolific and he’s so good, and honestly he talked to Ryan Murphy and said ‘Hey I’d love you to consider these’ and Ryan listened to them and just loved them, and one of them was kind of written for everyone and they adopted it to be just for one person. But it turned out beautiful and I was there when they shot it and I burst into tears, it was really great.”

“It’s about time,” adds Glee‘s piano virtuoso, Brad Ellis. “He’s a wonderful writer. You know, everyone knows him as Blaine, as the actor, and he does a tremendous job with that, but he’s something even rarer than a leading man, than a wonderful actor. He’s a really good, careful, intelligent songwriter. And Broadway-esque musicals, musical film, musical television – there’s a shortage of those people that are that smart in the way that they write. So you know, I want all the stardom for him, Broadway stardom and all of that, but I also want to make sure he keeps writing all the time.”

Ellis goes on to say, “The very last thing I was on set for was the filming of the piano playing his song and it hadn’t even been written down, and the woman (Bonnie) who was playing the hands of Lea [Michele], of Rachel, [Darren] was calling out the chords as she was playing it. She sort of listened to the track once and was matching the track, and that was kind of miraculous the composer is like shouting music theory at Bonnie who is getting it right and playing while they film it.”

It’s clear the Glee cast and crew will be supporting each other in their endeavors for some time now, both professional and philanthropical. Though unable to attend the event due to other professional obligations, Ushkowitz’s co-stars Criss and Kevin McHale were both listed as Sponsors of the Kindred Launch.

You can see all the great work Kindred Adoption is doing at KindredAdoption.org. And watch the trailer for Twinsters below.

Photo Credit: Matt Wheeler