Grey’s Anatomy Finds A Rainbow Connection

Series star Jake Borelli comes out on screen and in real life

Jake Borelli as Dr. Levi Schmitt on Grey’s Anatomy. (Photo by ABC/Mike Rosenthal)

If you have ever spent any time in a hospital, you are probably familiar with the term STAT, a fast-moving response to an urgent situation. In a lot of ways, STAT can also apply to the career of Jake Borelli who currently plays Dr. Levi Schmitt in the long-running ABC medical drama Grey’s Anatomy.

Although Borelli has been a veteran actor from an early age, his current meteoric success is finding the Ohio native’s career gaining considerable momentum.

Unlike some of today’s actors, Borelli succeeds because of substance rather than style and looks alone. He carries himself in a genuine natural way that resonates with the public and personifies authenticity. Borelli is a social media star with almost 400,000 followers on Instagram and an ever-expanding Twitter presence as well. His fans remain extremely loyal and won’t be forgetting about him anytime soon. Borelli interacts with members of his fan base on a regular basis in a sincere and appreciative manner.

The kid from Columbus has come full circle this year, returning to his hometown to be King of the Pride parade, out and successful.

Dr. Schmitt (Jake Borelli) takes a phone call at the hospital in season 16 episode “It’s Raining Men.” (Photo by ABC/Kelsey McNeal)

Borelli without hesitation points out, “It was special to return home fully out of the closet with my whole family there.” That special moment has been repeated on numerous occasions since he came out publicly 12 months ago.

“I’ve had the chance to meet so many wonderful people who have accepted me and offered kindness,” is how he reflects on this whirlwind period. In his down-to-earth manner, Borelli adds that it’s about “being himself” and never changing his kind approach to interacting with people.

Those early days after he came out of the closet were complicated and found him personally going into uncharted waters.

“I was terrified, and had no idea of what to expect,” he said. “There was pressure to be open and hope people would respect my decision.”

In a case of art imitating life, Grey’s recently introduced its first gay male storyline that revolved around Borelli’s character, Levi Schmitt. It was an opportunity that Borelli felt made it the right time to come out in his personal life. Even casual viewers of the show can see how the series’ stories intersect with each other and how the characters grow, flaws and all.

Borelli points out “We tell human stories, that everyone can relate to.”

His fans have certainly related to him. Given how he’s risen to become one of the more popular young actors on television, it wouldn’t be surprising to see ABC lock him up with a long-term development deal for Grey’s Anatomy and beyond. Borelli remains an integral part of the show. The growth of his character and in his personal life have transcended the television screen and hit home with viewers. Chalk it up to the genuineness Borelli brings to this role that has earned him such broad appeal with viewers.

“I try to bring vulnerability to every role that I play” is how he describes it.

As a 10-year veteran plying his trade in Los Angeles, Borelli found early success playing Wolfgang in the Nickelodeon comedy series The Thundermans and the Netflix dramatic film Reality High. He also scored guest shots on NCIS: Los Angeles, Parenthood and True Jackson, VP before landing his current role on Grey’s Anatomy.

While maintaining a busy production schedule, Borelli remains very active in his charity work, working with AIDS Walk LA, the LGBTQ Center and the GLAAD Awards. His interests in these events is heartfelt and his commitment is never-ending. It was through these charitable causes that Borelli found his new creative passion—doing stand-up comedy in Los Angeles. Early reviews have been good and given how much Borelli enjoyed it, this might not be the last time you see him cracking jokes on stage.

Jake Borelli (far left) in a scene from True Jackson, VP (Photo courtesy of Nickelodeon)

Borelli has diverse interests, ranging from needlepoint to traveling and his love of actress Catherine O’Hara. Even if he had stayed in Columbus, Borelli says “I would have been a painter and still pursued acting.”

Currently taking singing lessons, Borelli enjoys coming to New York multiple times a year to binge Broadway shows over a few days. The 28-year-old thespian is always on the go, suitcase packed and ready to travel at a moment’s notice. Japan has been his favorite country to visit so far and Brazil is on his bucket list.

“We have such a huge [South American] fan base, I would love to go visit.”

As for his current gig, Borelli is thrilled to see that Grey’s Anatomy is showing no signs of slowing down—hitting the 20-year mark seems like a given at this point.

“I love it here. I want to stay as long as they will have me,” he said of the show and his cast mates.

The network clearly has faith in its young phenom as Borelli has been cast to star in The Thing About Harry, which premieres in February on Freeform (formerly ABC Family).
Grey’s Anatomy returns to ABC on Jan. 23.

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