Rilan is a young actor who is most famous for playing the character of a Dalton Academy Warbler on the wildly popular television show, “Glee.” Also, a singer, his new “Love or Drugs” music video released on April 2. In it, Rilan lashes out at Los Angeles, a city he says cultivates a culture of substance and emotional abuse.

Rilan recently discussed his rising career and a controversial new song in an exclusive interview.

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Music, songs, and drugs

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you start singing and acting and do you regard one talent as your primary talent?

Rilan: I grew up on stage. Theatre was my life since I was five-years-old. I was a shy kid in the real world, but I honestly felt most myself performing. As I got older, I didn’t click with the theatre as much as I used to. I wanted to play my own character rather than the one written.

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I wanted to write my own music. I wanted to create my own world. So that’s what I did, and I never looked back. I’m an artist, and I think my strongest suit is leaving this world and bringing the one I wish I lived into life through my music. The real world is too boring for me.

MM: How did you land the gig on “Glee”?

Rilan: “Glee” had always been a dream of mine, but just that - a dream. I used to watch it every week after “American Idol” since the eighth grade.

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As the loner, the theatre kid, and the outsider at school, I felt understood and represented on television for the first time. I auditioned for the show four times over three years. Two of those times I got called back, lied and said I was an LA native, and flew in from New Orleans just for the callbacks. I read for different named characters both times to no success. When I finally moved out to LA, I had written off my chances of ever being on the show.

It seemed like it just wasn’t in my cards. Then in the summer of 2014, my dance agent sent me on an audition for the last season. I honestly didn’t think I had a shot, so I went with no expectations and really not a care in the world. Unbeknownst to either of us, they sent me to the acting call instead of the dance audition. I walked into the casting office in dancewear, my busted black converse, and a tattered acid washed jean jacket.

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Every other guy there was in a navy-blue suit, red tie, and dress shoes. They were all clean shaven with perfectly quaffed pompadours. I, on the other hand, looked like I stepped out of a dumpster from 1986 as I always do. All I could do was laugh. I was thinking there is no way in hell I will ever book this looking like myself. Low and behold, I did. I always find it funny how success never happens as you imagine it to.

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MM: Do you have any fun “Glee” stories from behind the scenes?

Rilan: Darren Criss is the nicest person on the planet. Our first day of shooting was at a turn of the century mansion in Pasadena they used as Dalton Academy, the Warblers’ school. Our scenes were two performance numbers with Lea Michele and Darren. He greeted us with big hugs and smiles and said, “My Warblers are back.” It was a little surreal to see him in person after watching him on TV every Wednesday night growing up, but he was so personable and genuine. Instead of eating in his trailer for lunch, he sat with us in our holding room the whole time getting to know us. It was such a great experience to see someone so talented and so successful be so kind and humble after so much success. It was truly inspiring.

MM: Do you keep in touch with any of the “Glee” cast?

Rilan: I do. I’m best friends with two of my costars and see them weekly. Quite a few Warblers are east coast based while some live overseas now, but whenever they’re in town, we usually get together and catch up like old times. It was a great group of guys. They were like the brothers I never knew I wanted.

MM: What inspired your latest song?

Rilan: “Love or Drugs” is my f**k you to Hollywood. My dream was to move to LaLaLand and create. That’s it. I love art, and LA has always been the hub of every facet of entertainment, so I figured this is where artists thrive. But it’s not. Hollywood is no longer the home of artists. It’s the land of opportunists. Art has died and been replaced by fame. It’s all about sex and drugs and rock’n’roll without the rock’n’roll. I’m making fun of the cool kids. I’ve never been one and never want to be one. I’m bringing art back to music and pop culture one satirical pop song at a time.

MM: How much control did you have over the music video imagery?

Rilan: I have complete control over everything I create, from the music to the lyrics to the video to the costuming down to what I caption my Instagram photos. I wouldn’t have it any other way. In a time where everyone wants to look the same and fit into a mold, I think it’s my obligation as a weirdo to promote my weirdness. There are other weird kids out there like me who need to see themselves out in the world.

MM: Is it true that most of your friends in LA have had drug problems? How has this influenced their lives?

Rilan: Yes. My best friend in LA had a drug problem a few years back. We were very close, and it definitely took a toll on our friendship. The friend I made was not the same while high or low. They became a different person - a person neither of us would ever hang out with. Since then, my friend’s come a long way, and we’ve repaired our relationship over time. A lot of people I know in LA are recovering addicts. Substances have touched just about everyone here in one way or another and not in a positive way. I think the most important thing to ask ourselves is why are we reaching for a drink or a fix? The reason is to feel something. It’s to fill a part of us that we can’t find anymore. That’s the problem.

Hollywood, shows, and fans

MM: Why do you think LA has such a culture of addiction and what can be done to combat it?

Rilan: It’s a part of the perceived lifestyle of this place. It’s perceived because it’s a facade. The glamorization of party culture is everywhere - television, film, music, and now social media. I’ve never been a part of it because I was never cool enough to attend. That makes me sound bitter, but I’m not. What I mean is that I didn’t fit the type of person those parties wanted. There are specific communities all over Hollywood, just like there are cliques in high school. Each has a party scene, and each has an aesthetic to match. I’ve never fit into one category. I was always outside of what it meant to be a part of a scene with the way I look, what I say, what I think, what I do, and just who I am. To me, I combat expected behavior by doing the unexpected. If everyone’s walking left, I’m gonna run to the right. I am terrified of being normal, and if the party culture is the norm here, I’m going to throw my own party for all the uncool kids like myself. Be individual. Don’t be a part of the crowd. Create your own. That’s how you win if you ask me.

MM: Your manager is legendary Hollywood music executive, Randy Jackson. How does he feel about your strong anti-Hollywood message?

Rilan: Randy gets me. I’m so grateful. I’ve met a lot of people out here but no one has ever understood me and my vision as much as he does. He’s given me some of the best advice of my career thus far but always encourages me to trust my intuition as an artist no matter what.

MM: What are your live shows like and do you have a tour planned for the near future?

Rilan: Yes. I plan on being in every city in the world soon. I’ll keep you updated.

MM: What else would you like to mention to fans?

Rilan: I love you. I’m here for you. It’s our party, and us weirdos are about to kick the cool kids out of it for good.

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