December 24, 2012 12:00 PM

Pretty soon fans of Andrew Rannells will be seeing a lot more of the TV star. It isn’t simply because he’ll be appearing on two shows-in his current part on NBC’s The New Normal and, starting next month, in his recurring role on HBO’s Girls. No, Rannells’s increased exposure is also due to the risque nature of the average Girls script. “I had to sign a nudity waiver,” says the native Nebraskan, who plays Lena Dunham’s gay ex-boyfriend in the series (which returns Jan. 13). “It was a very exciting day. I took a picture of it and sent it to my friends: ‘Look what I’ve achieved!'”

His fearlessness is paying off. After headlining the hit Broadway musical The Book of Mormon in 2011, Rannells, 34, landed the lead as a gay man preparing to become a father in executive producer Ryan Murphy’s new NBC sitcom (“My mother told me that people at my Catholic grade school really enjoy it!”); months earlier he’d gotten the role on Girls. “All of my professional dreams came true,” Rannells says.

His personal ones too: Now in L.A., Rannells is happily dating his boyfriend of one year and enjoying the social life that comes with knowing Murphy: “Ryan will invite you to dinner, and-surprise, surprise-Jessica Lange is there!” After the holidays he’ll return to New York City to ring in 2013 and celebrate his good fortune. “Having been working hard for 15 years and then having everything happen in one year is nuts. It’s crazy and humbling.”

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