In just a few years, LGBTQ+ media personality Jason Lee's star has shone brightly in Hollywood.
In 2015, Lee started appearing on the reality show Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood as well as the MTV improv show Wild 'n Out. Now, he (along with DJ Damage and Blue Telusma) hosts the provocative and successful podcast Hollywood Unlocked, in which they discuss hot topics and interview many celebrities.
Windy City Times: Regarding Hollywood, a lot of people feel it's this bastion of liberalism. What is your take on that?
Jason Lee: I think Los Angeles, like any major city, is a melting pot of individuals with diverse backgrounds and different interests. They eat and sound the same. I love the city.
WCT: I know that you've talked about feeling pigeonholed when you were on Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood, which is the same thing I heard from Trent Crews when he was on Love & Hip Hop: New York. [Crews is also LGBTQ+.]
JL: I think the industry, in general, has certain opportunities for certain groups of people. I think Fox Soul likes that, as a Black man, I have [helped create] spaces for people of color.
WCT: Talk a bit about Hollywood Unlocked.
JL: Hollywood Unlocked started as a news platform that pulled back the veil on Hollywood. It provides access to your favorite stars in a way and you get to know them in a way you might not have known. It's a talk show and radio show and podcast that will build upon its cultural imprint for 2022.
WCT: One of the people you have talked with was Kevin Hart, who has had a controversial relationship with the LGBTQ+ community. You have said you viewed him as a mentor, though. Could you talk about that?
JL: What I said is that Kevin and I have had old tweets pop up, which allowed me to look at the situation [with a] clearer lens. There's been the journey of Kevin's self-discovery of accountability that he talked about so candidly, and he talked about his ego getting in the way of reflection, which was refreshing. But it was my own personal experience of being called a faggot for the first time and Kevin hearing about itand intervening and bringing about a resolutionthat brought about my respect for him.
Learning from experiences is what makes us a stronger society, and I think Kevin has gone a great job of that. I've been on my own journey doing that. Having more compassion after I got judged helped me. I've been able to go to Kevin and build a relationship with him where I've been able to give and get insight on, for example, supporting Black journalists. I've just found the exchanges with Kevin to be very valuable.
WCT: Who's on your Hollywood Unlocked wish list to interview, and why?
JL: Well, I definitely want to interview Rihanna. I think that when people get to know her personallyshe's so dope and dialed into the culture. I just think she's so iconic to us, but is also so humble and grounded. I'd love to interview Mary J. Blige.
WCT: Of course, you've heard about the Jussie Smollett ruling. What's your reaction to that?
JL: I think Jussie made a mistakea conscious mistake by saying things that weren't true and that implicated the city of Chicago. I'm all about accountability culture, not cancel culture, and Jussie is an example of what accountability culture should look like. Unfortunately, he was found guilty, and he has to be accountable for that.
WCT: Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has been in the news for her anti-trans views. When it comes to watching or listening to someone, does that person's views affect if you will see an actor's movie or hear a singer's record? Where do you draw the line?
JL: Do I watch House of Cards [which stars Kevin Spacey]? It's one of my favorite shows. Do I listen to R. Kelly? His songs aren't in my playlist but if it comes on, do I turn the channel and run down the street? No. Do I throw paint on people who wear fur? No. I'm not here to police the world; I can only do what I do.
I feel that when people rape or molest other people, yes, there should be a certain level of cancellation. But do you turn off R. Kelly's "Step in the Name of Love" when it's been playing in your house for years? Nothat's an individual decision. I don't have a list of people I can and can't support. Some people would expect me to cancel Dave Chappelle; I think he's brilliant.
I'm 44 and I come from an era when comedy pushed the needle and was controversial. I saw an Eddie Murphy show where he said the word "fag"and he would be killed if he said something like that today. So I think we're going through that pendulum swing in which we have an oversensitive society in which people are quick to cancel, judge and incarcerate public opinion.
And then you have Richard Pryor, who played in our community, anyway. So half of these people who make these homophobic comments are probably on the down low. Make it make sense.
WCT: With the COVID pandemic and the so-called racial awakening some people have had, what have you learned about yourself?
JL: I deserve to be loved and it starts with loving myself, so I've been working on that. In terms of the racial awakening, I get frustrated with things going back to normal once the fire dies down. The mission of social equality should [take place] every day. Having one white police officer put in jail because he killed a Black man does not fix things.
Experience Hollywood Unlocked at hollywoodunlocked.com . The podcast is also available on iHeart Radio, iTunes, YouTube and, most recently, Fox Soul, the first online streaming service ever launched by the Fox Corporation.