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Emmy host Jane Lynch not totally filled with ‘Glee’

Jane Lynch will host Emmy Awards show Sunday she may take home one statues herself having already wan Emmy for

Jane Lynch will host the Emmy Awards show on Sunday, and she may take home one of the statues herself, having already won an Emmy for her portrayal of Sue Sylvester on “Glee.”

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Updated: November 17, 2011 12:46AM

Jane Lynch, tennis star? Could have happened. In her lively and compelling new memoir, Happy Accidents (Voice, $25.99, 304 pages), the actress recounts how in her freshman year at Thornridge High in Dolton, she found herself “paralyzed with fear” during rehearsals for a production of “The Ugly Duckling.” She quit and joined the tennis team.

Afterward, she was inconsolable. “I started having dreams in which everyone I knew had gotten a part in a play, and I was the only one who was left out,” she writes. “All these years later, I still have those dreams. And when I wake up, I hug my Emmy.”

Yes, Lynch got back on track and recently became a household name playing Sue Sylvester, the meaner-than-mean cheerleading coach on “Glee.” She just might win another Emmy at Sunday’s awards ceremony (7 p.m., WFLD-Channel 32), which she also is hosting.

Lynch was inspired to write the memoir after reflecting on the successes of the last few years and wishing she could have told her anxious younger self to not worry so much.

“I found such strength in pulling back the covers on my life,” Lynch said in an interview from Los Angeles. “I don’t fear exposure the way I used to. I actually had so many secrets that I actually found empowerment in telling the truth.”

Lynch is the first to admit the road to her current success has been a long one. She steadily built a name for herself as an actress whose unique comedic skills caught the attention of the powers that be in film and television.

But the pressures of the acting life pushed her to alcohol abuse, and she spent decades conflicted about her sexuality (she finally came out to her family at 32). Through therapy, she says, she conquered her demons.

“When I look back, I’m blown away by how strong my resolve was for someone who was so insecure and had so much angst,” Lynch said.

After honing her craft at Illinois State University and Cornell, Lynch came back to Chicago after looking for work in New York, where she confronted “one closed door after another.” In Chicago, she found “really cool projects and really cool people.”

“I became immediately energized when I hit Chicago,” Lynch, 51, said. “There was just so much going on, and there still is.”

Her credits include work at Second City, Steppenwolf Theatre and the Annoyance Theatre, where she would portray Carol Brady in the long-running “The Real Live Brady Bunch,” created by Faith and Jill Soloway.

“It was frightening how good Jane was in the role,” said Annoyance artistic director Mick Napier, who played Bobby Brady.

Lynch brought the Soloways on to help with the writing for the Emmy show. Faith Soloway says her old friend hasn’t changed.

“She knows herself comedically; she knows what works for her,” Soloway said. “It’s been so wonderful to see her in the new light of fame.”

In the book, Lynch credits her success on “Glee” to writer Ian Brennan, who pens the crazy things that come out of Sue’s mouth.

“Ian has the weirdest, most wonderful sense of humor,” Lynch said. “He’s the nicest man on the planet, but he also has this really dark side.”

Another is-this-for-real moment came when Lynch met her idol, Carol Burnett, on the set of the movie “Post Grad.” The comedy legend later would play Sue Sylvester’s mother (a former Nazi hunter) on “Glee.”

The actresses became friends, and Burnett penned the foreword to Happy Accidents.

“I was a huge fan of her television show,” Lynch said. “It looked like they were having so much fun, and I said to myself, ‘This is what I want to do.’ And to have Carol be a part of it is just so surreal.”

Jane Lynch reads from her memoir at 2 p.m. Oct. 8 at Barnes & Noble,
55 Old Orchard Center, and at 1 p.m. Oct. 9 at Women and Children First, 5233 N Clark.

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