Openly gay entertainer Todrick Hall has created a sort of cottage industry as a YouTube viral sensation that allows him to showcase his talents on a worldwide scale. As a Broadway veteran and a former American Idol contestant, the Texas native is like a one-man band whose talents as a singer, dancer and directerjust to name a fewhave garnered the attention of industry bigwigs. Hall spoke with Windy City Times about working with Beyonce, coming out at 14 and finding love.
Windy City Times: A lot of people first saw you on season nine of American Idol in 2010. Do you think that not winning the show was better in the long run because you were able to control your own destiny?
Todrick Hall: I do think that it's better that I didn't win the show. I wasn't ready and I didn't know about L.A. and I think L.A. would have eaten me alive. I've had to learn a lot from my mistakes and I've had to fall a lot of times to be able to get up. Now I think I am ready for whatever may come my way.
WCT: You're a singer/dancer/choreographer/director/actor/writer/producer. What did I leave out?
Todrick Hall: I design a lot of the costumes that we wear [in my YouTube videos], so I'm a stylist as well.
WCT: Where did you develop all these diverse talents?
Todrick Hall: I honestly think that YouTube has been my college. But I think that people can tell from each project that I do, that there is growth and that I'm learning and I love it that my fans are watching me learn and grow as I make video after video.
I started dancing when I was 8 years old, doing tap, ballet and jazzand I was in the Nutcracker for years. I was singing my whole life at church and my dad taught me how to tumble in my backyard. I was a gymnast in high school and that helped me get all my Broadway shows and those shows helped me get on American Idol and that helped me make viral YouTube videos. Those videos have now helped me work for Virgin America [he wrote the music and lyrics for their in-flight safety video], Beyonce and get signed to Scooter [Braun].
WCT: Your "Beyonce End of Time Target Flash Mob" video has more than 10 million views on YouTube, but you recently choreographed the video for her song "Blow."
Todrick Hall: She saw my videos and she hired me from that and said that she wanted me to bring her new video to life. She flew me to Houston, put me up in a hotel for four days and I got to help her and be on set with her. It was a dream come true.
WCT: Can people make a living by posting videos on YouTube?
Todrick Hall: A lot of my friends make a living by posting videos on YouTube. You make money based on how many views you get and also endorsement deals. If you get big enough they'll ask you to wear and promote certain things for a certain amount of money. Things are changing and I think that pretty soon YouTube is going to have a lot more power than it does now, or the same amount of power as NBC, FOX or ABC.
WCT: You came out as gay at the age of 14. Was it a difficult process?
Todrick Hall: I told my mom when I was 14. I didn't lose friends but it was a struggle for my family, but we pushed through it. I was obviously bullied as a kid and I didn't understand why people were making fun of me. Part of the reason that people make fun of you is because you give them the power to make fun of you and you let them know that it bothers you. When I came out no one had a reason to call me "gay" anymore because I was already out.
WCT: Does your busy schedule allow you time for a personal life?
Todrick Hall: I broke up with one of my true loves a long time ago and part of the reason that I love doing these videos is because I know that he's seeing them. Also, part of the reason that I keep working so hard is because I feel that one day he's going to come back and I'll be with him again.
WCT: Was your pro-gay video for CinderFella your way of coming out to fans?
Todrick Hall: It was, and a lot of people didn't get that. But I didn't want to make an announcement and say something because I don't really like to talk about my sexuality because sometimes when people become celebrities, they say stuff about their sexuality and their whole career becomes about that. I want to be completely honest with my fans, but I don't want to be pigeon-holed into a situation.
Keep up with Hall's videos at www.youtube.com/user/todrickhall and follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/toddyrockstar .