“Grey’s Anatomy” star Jake Borelli on the show’s 18th season

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Jake Borelli
Jake Borelli stars as Dr. Levi Schmitt on ABC’s "Grey’s Anatomy"

New season of Grey’s Anatomy will be a rollercoaster storyline says Borelli

Jake Borelli
Jake Borelli stars as Dr. Levi Schmitt on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy”

Jake Borelli is well known since starring as Dr. Levi Schmitt on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and subsequently Wolfgang on Nickelodeon’s The Thundermans. In a brave move on November 2018, during Season 15: Episode 6 of Grey’s Anatomy, Borelli publicly came out as gay at the same time his character, Dr. Levi Schmitt, came out. Jake Borelli sat down with me before filming to discuss the new season and gives us an inside view into who he really is off-screen.

September 30th marks the premiere of the 18th season of Grey’s Anatomy. How was the filming process?

Jake Borelli: We aren’t entirely done with filming! We usually don’t even begin filming a new season until six to eight weeks before the premiere of episode one.

Season 17 had a very realistic storyline that closely paralleled the pandemic. What can we expect from this season?

JB: We are all in this new world together trying to figure out how to navigate life and move on. This season is going to be a Shonda Rhimes rollercoaster! I would feel awful to spoil it, so you’ll have to tune in!

Since May there have been whispers that there will be a spinoff of some kind. Is anything in the works?

JB: Ooh…I have no idea. Private Practice was the first spinoff. I do love the second spinoff we currently have airing, Station 19, so I wouldn’t be opposed to more.

How does the character you play, Dr. Levi Schmitt, relate to your own personality?

JB: Levi and I are very similar, to be honest. We have many overlapping traits. A lot of Levi’s clumsy behavior stems from my own. For example, in Season 14 when I first came on the show there was an episode where I was running because I was late. I tripped and fell—they kept it in—and my natural klutz behavior sort of gave birth to Levi’s klutz behavior. We are both neurotic. Levi has been working hard to elevate himself within the medical field similarly to how I have been working hard to elevate myself within acting.

How do the two of you differ?

Jake Borelli
Jake Borelli

JB: I will say that Levi is more vulnerable and open in speaking his mind. I admire these qualities which I have been trying to emulate in my own life. However, Levi is probably more socially awkward than me. I like to think that I am better at my social game than him. I also enjoy Levi’s obliviousness and inability to see social hierarchy.

Alex Landi plays Dr. Nico Kim, your colleague, and boyfriend on the show. Your relationship is the first gay relationship featured on the longtime series. Is he a good kisser?

JB: (Laughs) Yes, I think Levi would say he is! Alex and I have fun. We love “Schmico” and really enjoy acting together.

“Schmico” has gone viral on social media. Thoughts on your popular gay showmance?

JB: Oh my God! I love “Schmico.” I love all the content that I see. I love the artwork too. I’ve seen some incredible pieces of art online.

Jake Borelli
Jake Borelli on “Grey’s Anatomy” photo by ABC’s Ali Goldstein.

Over the past ten years, there have been more gay television series, gay main characters, and gay subject matter given attention within the mainstream media. Do you feel gay has become more socially acceptable or do we still have a long way to go?

JB: We still have a long way to go but I feel queerness, in general, has become more mainstream. I feel this has a lot to do with new generations who are much more comfortable talking about queer topics as well as being queer. They are causing a much larger supply and demand for these stories to be shown. I feel business is witnessing this, understanding how these queer stories can be marketed and ultimately advantageous for them.

I am only 30 years old. Growing up, we did not have much in terms of queer storylines. In the past, it was either small characters or tiny story arcs focused on fear and shame. Today we are getting much more well-rounded storylines. I am so proud that the people who run Grey’s Anatomy decided to put a queer character as a lead on a show this huge. It is massive to me just as an audience member. I am very grateful to them.

How would you describe your dream man in real life?

Jake Borelli
Jake Borelli on right in “Grey’s Anatomy” photo by ABC’s Richard Cartwright

JB: They must be curious, because curiosity is a very big quality for me. They need to be driven because ambition is a quality I really admire. Overall, I like a family man. I would love to have a family in the future. I also love men who are into the outdoors and enjoy traveling.

You have been extremely busy the past four years. Have you had downtime to enjoy activities and hobbies?

JB: During the pandemic, I felt like all I had was downtime! This summer I visited my family, and we literally did nothing. Yet it was a glorious time. During the height of the pandemic, I went camping often because going out into nature away from people felt like the safest thing you could do. I also picked up embroidery this summer. If readers follow me on Instagram, they can see my embroidery in my stories. By day I am hiking, by night I am watching trashy tv embroidering.

What are some of your favorite guilty pleasure television shows?

JB: I think I have watched every single competition reality show that exists over the last two years. It started with Survivor, which is still my all-time favorite, and moved onto RuPaul’s Drag Race. Now, this is where it gets so much trashier, my newest obsessions are The Circle and Too Hot to Handle on Netflix. They are all just so addicting that I can’t get over it. I will say at least I haven’t gotten into the Real Housewives franchise or Jersey Shore. The only show remotely like those two that I watch is Selling Sunset on Netflix.

I enjoy the competition element of reality television because it is much more realistic. Case in point: Project Runway and The Great Pottery Throw Down. Going from Grey’s Anatomy, one of the most respected TV dramas, everything just feels trashy (laughs).

Jake Borelli on "Grey's Anatomy" (left) and Mr. Landi
Jake Borelli on “Grey’s Anatomy” (left) and Mr. Landi. Photo by ABC’s Richard Cartwright.

Of all hobbies to pick up how did embroidering happen?

JB: I am very crafty. I was always an artist. Actually, prior to acting I almost went to college to become a fine artist. I always had the artistic bone and knitted since I was prepubescent. During the pandemic, we all had so much time on our hands, and I just started doing macramé, embroidery and it grew from there.

You are highly creative. What is your zodiac sign?

JB: I am a Taurus. I am not too familiar with the correlation between creativity, but I am definitely stubborn, so there is validity to what they say about Taurus.

Where do you hope to take your acting career long-term?

JB: I would love to do more theatre. Before I booked Grey’s Anatomy, I had moved to New York to pursue theatre. However, I was there for only six weeks before I booked Grey’s Anatomy and had to move back to Los Angeles. At some point, I would like to dip my feet back into theatre. Another huge goal of mine is to work on a network sitcom. Growing up as a kid I adored sitcoms and would love to work on something of that nature.

Will Loschiavo is Out In Jersey's entertainment editor. Will has written for various publications and worked for multiple Top 40 radio stations in New Jersey and New York. Will is the host of the Will Love Listen podcast available on Spotify and all mainstream streaming platforms. Instagram: @WillLoveInc.