name: alexander russo. birthdate | age: august 20, 1984; 34. hometown: albany, ny. residence: chelsea, ny. occupation: college dropout; musician; actor. relationship: married to allison reynolds


► A fire station in Albany. Actually, to be exact, the back of a firetruck in Albany. That's where Alexander Russo's life started almost 34 years ago. For a while, it was unclear exactly when his birthday even was or where he was actually born. He had nothing; no birth certificate, no identifying information except a piece of notebook paper stating that his name was Alexander and the initials of who he now assumes was his mother–he was just a baby wrapped in a blanket in the back of a firetruck. She was probably a teenager who needed to dump the evidence of a mistake she made. She didn't want a baby, and neither did anyone else. The firefighter who found him had noble intentions, but his new wife was already pregnant and they just couldn't afford a second baby with one already on the way. Thus, Alex's life in the system started too young. It's a myth that babies get adopted quickly. No one wants a baby that has no identifying information.

By the time Alex turned seven he'd been living in the same group home for years; he'd seen his share of kids come and go while he was overlooked. Too many problems, too scrawny, too wild. Ms. Gold, the woman he'd grown attached to in the time he'd been in the system always told him to be on his best behavior when families would come to look at children that had the potential to be adopted. Like puppies in a shelter. He'd sat down with his share of families who passed on him and went for a younger child, a toddler. Too old, too much baggage, to violent. He'd heard every excuse by the time he was ten, and even before that.

No matter how hard he tried to be on his best behavior, families tended to make up their minds before they even sat down with a child. So at that point Alexander saw no use in trying to be on his best behavior anymore. He lashed out, he bit and scratched and hit anyone who tried to touch him, and eventually Ms. Gold, too, sent him away. The second group home he found himself in was no better. Nor was the third. There was no place that could handle his problems. The system has always been overloaded and kids like Alexander with a history of issues that were never addressed in childhood are simply passed through the system until they're eighteen and no longer their problem to deal with.

When Alex turned fourteen he was finally, for some reason, placed in a foster home. It didn't take long to figure out why the family took him and not a baby or a toddler: the woman, Jessica, was a lonely housewife to a wealthy businessman–Brett Russo. She thought a child would keep her company. But fourteen year olds aren't agreeable and fourteen year olds aren't a Yorkie you can carry around in your purse. Brett, his foster father, had half decent intentions in "getting" Jessica a child, but he was ill informed about exactly what he was getting. Alexander didn't come out of his room, he lashed out, he got into fights at school, with other kids in the neighborhood, and it all fell on the Russo's shoulders. Alexander could overhear Brett telling Jessica to take him back, but she refused.

Eventually, Brett and Jessica separated, leaving her with the responsibility of a fifteen year old who was angry at the world. Not in the way most teens are angry at the world, though. The deep anger that Alexander carried with him made him wild, untamable at best. Jessica was persistent, even when Alex rejected any and all of her affection. It wasn't until he found one of her guitars from her days at Sarah Lawrence (when she was as wild as he was) that they had their bonding moment. Music came naturally to him although he'd only picked up an instrument once or twice before. It was something he was meant to do, it seemed.

The only constant in his life besides Jessica's refusal to send him back even at the expense of her marriage was a girl named Eleanor. There was no rhyme or reason why an angry, wild child like Alexander took to Eleanor and no one else. He was popular but detached. No one knew anything about him except a million dollar smile and a good head of hair. He liked to fight and drink and smoke weed and somehow still managed to maintain an exemplary GPA. He wasn't as stupid as the show he put on to keep everyone at arm's length. Except Eleanor.

By the time he finally worked up the courage to explain his life to her he was sixteen and living in Chelsea with Jessica. Money does a lot of things: for one, it paid for her to keep Alexander with her even after her divorce. As more of a gesture than anything else, Jessica officially gave Alexander her last name on his eighteen birthday. By then it wasn't so much needing a mother as it was having a birth certificate with a mother's name on it that meant something. Belonging to someone, permanently. At eighteen he had no idea he'd belong to another person for the rest of his life sooner than he realized. By the time he was nineteen he'd been in countless beds, but there was only one bed he ever stayed in until morning.

When Alex was accepted to Bennington in Vermont, Jessica was as proud as any mother. When Alex dropped out after a year and decided to pursue something else–she was as disappointed as any mother. Standing in her living room–the only one he'd ever felt safe in–and telling her he was taking a chance on music and acting she, like any sane parent, feared for her son's future. She supported him nonetheless. After all, she'd chosen him over her lonely, loveless marriage. All those years ago she was just a bored housewife to him, now he was looking in the eyes of his mother and the feeling of disappointing her was too much. He couldn't disappoint her.

Except he would disappoint her more than once. Dropping out of college, a sure thing, Jessica knew was a mistake. She watched her son, used to having to fight for everything his entire life, continue to work himself to the bone just to make ends meet. The money she'd gotten in her divorce was long gone, and she'd gone back to work after decades of living comfortably just to make ends meet. She suddenly had a newfound respect for the son she almost never got to have. If this was even a taste of what he'd been through his entire life, she couldn't imagine how he survived it. He promised her, though, that she wouldn't have to live that way for very long. While it didn't happen overnight, Alexander kept his promise.

He wrote a musical [ ooc note: hamilton ] that in the words of John Lennon, would one day be bigger than Jesus. He never expected it, any of it. He'd become so used to fighting everyone all the time that even open doors were entered with raised fists and a healthy dose of distrust. Because like everything else in his life, Alexander still had to fight for even the smallest good thing. His sobriety being one of those things. Despite the success by every account he never should've had given he was found in a firetruck and didn't have a real last name until he was eighteen, he still struggles with the inner demons that never seemed to really leave him alone. After five years in and out of rehab and prison he finally has the smallest amount of stability: his show, the wife he met in group therapy and married a week after they were released (on a whim), and a baby on the way.

That should "stability" should mark something for him; an accomplishment of some sort that he made it after fighting for 30+ years, but it doesn't. For everything he's managed to barely hold onto, Eleanor is the one thing he's lost that actually hurts. Engaged to someone else while he was off destroying his own life and serving time for it, he has to watch as like every other good thing in his life, he loses her too [ the difference being he actually cares about her ]. She'll be able to say she knew him when. Before, during, but another woman has his after. An after he spends most of his time wondering if he even wants if Eleanor's not in it.