One piece of advice Andrew Rannells, star of NBC’s The New Normal, has taken to heart is this nugget from fellow actor Mark Ruffalo: “Your career is happening right now, it’s not something that will start when you get a certain job.”

Now 34, the Omaha, Neb. native got his career off to an early start as a voice actor and director of children’s cartoons and video games like Sonic the Hedgehog and Kirby. But then came the big break. In 2006, he was cast as Link Larkin in the hit Broadway musical, Hairspray. He then toured the country with Jersey Boys before returning to Broadway.

And, while he was working—no small feat for any actor—his next role made him a star. Rannells created the role of Elder Price in Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s Tony Award-winning musical, Book of Mormon, a gig that would earn him a nomination as Best Actor, too.

“It changed my life,” Rannells told The Hollywood Reporter and also gained him the attention of television executives on the West Coast.

Soon he was cast in the recurring role of Elijah, the gay friend on HBO’s Girls, but it was The New Normal that would make him a household name. As half of a gay couple planning to have a baby with a surrogate, the dad-to-be’s adventures are certain to gain him a new fanbase on network TV.

In the meantime, his reach will extend to the big screen later this year when he makes his film debut in Leslye Headland’s Bachelorette. What’s a gay guy to do when a bachelorette party, runs awry? Andrew Rannells will be right in the middle of the action, just where he wants to be, in the middle of an exciting career. JW Arnold