Diabetes Forecast

People to Know 2015: Nick Jonas

By Tracey Neithercott ,
nick jonas

Nick Jonas
Photograph by Andrew Zaeh

You think you know Nick Jonas?

Think again.

Gone is the floppy-haired tween idol whose adorkable smile graced the bedroom walls of girls across the country. In his place is the beefed-up solo star whose flirty pout … well, graces the bedroom walls of girls across the country.

Meet Nick Jonas, 2.0.

He sings, though not with his brothers and not about pom-poms. He acts, though not in Disney song-and-dance flicks. He’s 23 and ready to be taken seriously.

It was a calculated effort. With the lifespan of boy bands so short and successful solo careers so few and far between, Nick worked hard to set himself up for a serious career as a solo artist and actor.

A year after the Jonas Brothers—the band Nick and his two brothers formed in 2005—called it quits, Nick got our attention with a one-two punch. The first episode of DirecTV’s gritty mixed martial arts drama Kingdom aired in October 2014, featuring the bulked-up former tween idol and proving he had serious acting chops. That same month, Jonas recreated Mark Wahlberg’s iconic Calvin Klein photo shoot for Flaunt magazine, erasing all memory of his squeaky-clean days.

He followed that up a month later with a solo album, Nick Jonas. His single, “Jealous,” hit No. 7 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

“It definitely feels like a new chapter,” he says. “This past year and a half has been so exciting. To be acting, creating songs that really connect with people—it’s what you dream of.”

His recent success is the result of hard work. To play MMA fighter Nate Kulina, Nick put on 12 to 15 pounds of muscle—a daunting task for anyone, never mind a guy with type 1 diabetes. He transformed his body with a diet of lean protein and minimal carbs plus constant workouts—a mix of strength training and learning to fight. “It definitely felt like a turning point to push myself in that way, going to that place physically,” he says. “Itreally required all of me mentally and physically.

Of course, there comes a risk with all of that physical training: dangerously low blood glucose. But Nick stays vigilant with his care, which keeps him safe. “I’ve got to think about all the scenarios and plan accordingly,” he says. “You have to be ready for anything.”

That’s especially true when your life’s as hectic as Nick’s: He’s currently touring for his new album, gearing up for the second season of Kingdom, and starring in Fox’s campy horror series Scream Queens. He’s also teaming up with continuous glucose monitor (CGM) manufacturer Dexcom to promote diabetes awareness. He does that in his free time, too, most notably calling out fitness giant CrossFit for its false and disrespectful tweets about the disease.

On top of all of that, he’s focusing on getting his A1C right where he wants it. But while Nick’s attentive to his diabetes needs—he wears an insulin pump and CGM to manage his blood glucose—his life doesn’t revolve around diabetes. “I don’t think it defines me,” he says. “It’s a big part of who I am in the same way singing and acting are part of my life.”

Tracey Neithercott is senior editor of Diabetes Forecast magazine. She and her sister formed a band once, but it broke up before dinner.

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