Actions Are Louder Than Words w/ Todrick Hall
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Episode · 1 year ago

Actions Are Louder Than Words w/ Todrick Hall

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

He kicked off his singing career and gained national attention when he performed on season 9 of “American Idol.” After making it as far as the semi-finals, he went to the Broadway stage and landed iconic roles like Lola in “Kinky Boots” and Ogie in “Waitress.” He’s collaborated with some of the biggest voices in music today like Taylor Swift, Beyonce and Ariana Grande and has been a regular judge and choreographer on the beloved reality competition “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Today we’re joined by Todrick Hall, a multi-hyphenated creator who went from a small farm town in Texas to creating a home and career in Hollywood. 

Be sure to follow Todrick on IG! Your host is Levi Chambers, co-founder of Gayety. Follow the show and keep up with the conversation @Pride. Want more great shows from Straw Hut Media? Check out or website at strawhutmedia.com. Your producers are Levi Chambers, Maggie Boles, Ryan Tillotson and Edited by Sebastian Alcala Have an interesting LGBTQ+ story to share? We might feature U! Email us at lgbtq@strawhutmedia.com. *This podcast is not affiliated with Pride Media. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

This episode of pride is brought to you by ATNT. Atnt in the Trevor Project share a commitment to bringing an end to lgbtq plus youth suicide. Thanks for listening. Now let's turn up the love Straw media. He kicked off his singing career and gained national attention when he performed on season nine of American idol. After making it as far as the semi finals, he went to the Broadway stage and landed iconic roles like Lola in kinky boots and ogie in waitress. He's collaborated with some of the biggest voices in music today, like Taylor swift, beyonce and Ariana Grande, and has been a regular judge and choreographer on the beloved reality competition Ru Paul's dragons. Today we're joined by Toddrick Hall, a multihiphenated Creator who went from a small farm town in Texas to creating a home and career in Hollywood. I'm toddrick and this is pride. I'm a singer, dancer, actor, producer, director, choreographer, social media influencer and, yeah, and a proud member of the LGBTQ plus community. But before Taddrick earned all his titles he was just a little kid growing up in a tiny town in plain view, Texas. I honestly couldn't have had a more simple life than I had. I grew up in a really small town. I always loved the wizard of Oz and was always fascinated with costumes and creativity and figured out how to make things out of paper, Miss Jay and a pint and I was always just a creative child. But I grew up as an only child and just like played in my garage pretty much seven Taddrick's first encounter with queer culture came from watching talk shows like the Mari puvot show or the Rickey Lake Show. Not a positive memory because, unfortunately, I mean my grandparents, who I love. They're no longer with us, but that's just a generation they were raised in, and I just remember them making comments about, you know, how much they didn't like the fact that these people were being outwardly gay and flat buoyant and and I remember being in the room with all my cousins and I could tell that I was having a emotional response to this behavior, even though at that time I didn't register that it was because I was gay. I just I felt guilty. I felt like something shot down my body and into my mind that was like, if you ever become this or ever say that you are this, it would be your family would be ashamed, it would be an embarrassment to your family. When Tadreck was fifteen, he came out to his family. My family was my mom, my immediate family, because my dad was not involved in my life. My stepdad nice human being, but it's very quiet, so spoken, not super opinionated or forceful with his his his stance on anything as far as I'm concerned. So in some ways I was so upset because my mom was so outwardly upset. Didn't want boys calling the house. I couldn't hang out with boys. Boys couldn't come over and close with the door closed, even if they were straight or even if they were somebody I wasn't interested in, just friend. It was just like boys were off limits, basically, and and she didn't want it. was just it was insane. But what really upset Tadreck was how apathetic his entire family was when it came to relationships. It was just as hurtful that the rest of my family members had heard it through the grape vine and never asked me questions about it, never brought it up, never wanted to discussed it. About a year ago my...

Stepdad said to me, we are okay with you being gay. That's not an issue for US anymore and I hope, I wish that you would stop harping on that, because it we love you and we're okay with it. But actions speak louder than words and Tadrick still doesn't feel welcomed and accepted by his family. I think that it's really difficult for him to understand that it is to issue when we come to the family reunions or the family gets together and and you ask everybody about their girlfriends or asked them if they have a girlfriend, and then you skip over me and my one cousin who is gay, who no one ever talks about. I think that it just makes us feel like our story doesn't matter, like our family doesn't care if we are in a relationship. They don't care about where where we are romantically because it makes them uncomfortable. So it's still and there's an elephant in the room. Even though they're not telling us we can't come to the family events, it still feels that way. Tadrick eventually moved to California and is grateful to have found an accepting community outside of his family. I've seen the toll that it's taken on other family members who are part of the leg betaking US community. That it's even still weird for me to say that now, because we don't talk about it as a family. I think specifically like we should be talking about it just as the human race and then the LGBTQ plus community, but specifically in the black community. We have to start having these conversations because we are just as prevalent in the black community is as we are anywhere else. But unfortunately these conversations just don't happen enough in our community and it saddens me. When you think of Queer Representation in the black community today, a few names may come to mind. There's the fabulous drag Queen Rupaul and Montero. Call me by your name, singer, little mass acts, but in two thousand and twenty one, representation in media is still limited. You can name them on you're probably both hands. It would be difficult for you to need all fingers, you know, which puts even more pressure on Toddrek as a prominent role model for his community. And it feels so surreal because I walk into a room and I think I don't know that anyone cares and I'm in this room, or that they care what I have to say about something. But then you leave and you go online and you see the story of them posting on social media to their friends that they met you and what an impact had made, and you have to start recognizing that, whether it's absurd to you because you're a human that's flawed and you see everything that is wrong with your life, but to that person they see you as something else, completely different. When I went on Tour and heard the stories of these kids who were saying that they didn't take their own lives because they could come home every week and know that I was going to put out another video and know that they couldn't make it through, that's very powerful information to get as an artist who thought you were just posting something to be fun with your friends, but then seeing me live my life and it's truest form inspired them to know that they could make it and then in turn inspired me to go further and challenge my own self and my own identity and what I was comfortable with and when I wasn't comfortable with. Tadreck doesn't see it as a responsibility but as a desire. He wants to continue to connect with the younger generation of Queer people of Color and empower them to live their own authentic lives. Sometimes it's stressful when I have outfits and things that I want to wear or lyrics that I want to say that might not be the greatest for all ages, but then I go that extra mile to go and record clean versions of almost every song that I've ever released so that in the event that some dance studio has a young black boy in it or a young gay child in it and they want them to do a song that's fierce and fabulous saying by somebody from the LGBTQ plus community, they can use my voice in my music, in my art as an option for that. But I don't look at as necessarily a responsibility,...

...but more as a privilege that or an honor or something that I get to do some not something that I have to do. Toaddrick recalls several instances where he was able to really feel the gravity of his impact on others, but some moments stick out from the rest. When I was in Kinky boots, I got a direct message from a dad who basically told me a story. I'm paraphrasing, but he said I have a son who is very, very flamboyant and loves to dress up, and it's clothes. He likes to wear a girl shoes and stuff, and when I open the door and see him, he always gets embarrassed and he's like it may. It makes me feel horrible because I haven't done anything to my knowledge that would make him feel like that's not okay and I wish that there was something I could do, but I don't know what I can do. But tonight is his twelve birthday and I'm going to be bringing him to come see you and keep boots on Broadway and I bought my son, and I'm matching pair of THY high he'll is to wear to the show so he doesn't feel like he has to go to the show wearing them himself. And that story touched me so much that that straight father would buy his son a pair of matching boots and they would come to the show together wearing them, because I think a lot of people wouldn't be willing to embarrass themselves and make themselves feel uncomfortable to make their child feel comfortable, and that, to me, is what real love is all about, and I just loved it so much it made my heart fluttery, gave me goosebumps, like I got to meet them after the show, and that story is the one that really sticks out to me because I think that that that Kid's life was probably changed to that moment that his father did that for him. Social media is a place where we can build a persona for ourselves, but it's only ever a window into someone's life and it's never accurate. For Toaddrek, his media personality can sometimes feel like a shield. People that know me or people I date, when they meet me, they're like, you're nowhere. Mirror is crazy and over the top, is flamboyant, austentatious, as I assume that you would be from watching your videos, and I don't think that I put on an air. I think I'm finally at a place now where I'm like, this is who I am. You could come over one day and I might be wearing a gout, you know, but most of the time I'm going to just be in sweatpants and puts offas Tadic is bold and unapologetic in his daily life and online he seems like the type of person who doesn't think twice about what there's think of him. But tadrick says he sometimes struggles when he thinks about his family watching him back home. Every single time I get ready to do a video or something, I do think about it, every time. Every time I write a cuss word, I think about it and when my mom comes to the show, to my concerts, there's not a single cuss word or something that comes out of my mouth that I don't think about the fact that she's listening to me when I say it, which I don't love, because I'm an adult and I should be able to say whatever words I want and I don't feel like the words should have as much power as they do. But here we are in two thousand and twenty one, and you know, and this is this is the world that we live in, and being a prominent figure in the media means you're being watched all the time. Tadrick recognize its. The people are looking up to him and he doesn't want to let them down. I have to always be aware when I go out and I really try to own that and and try to like move through the world in a different way now that I know that there are so many people watching me and that the words that come out of my mouth, the way I treat people, has a stronger impact than it did fifteen years ago or ten years ago. At the end of the day, Tadreck is just another human being like you and me. He makes mistakes, but then he grows from them and I look at myself forty eight hours later and I'm like, Dad Reck, why did you do that? But the answer is that you're human and you're going to make a ton of mistakes. So I try to make less mistakes, as smaller mistakes. But, but, but I'm no longer are really afraid of making mistakes...

...and saying you know, I try to be candid on interviews, knowing that once I say something, it exists on the Internet and there's a way that, out of context, or even in context, something I could say today could be totally appropriate today and totally not woke and not pc two weeks, two months, two years from now, and I have to live with that consequence. But today I can I can only be as smart at society is, and so I just have to try to just leave with my heart and know that, if my intentions are pure, that that is all I can do. You know, when we come back taddic strained relationship with his mom, his documentary behind the curtain and his love letter to the LGBTQ plus community. This episode of pride is brought to you by a TNT. ATNT supports organizations that strengthen the LGBTQ plus community. ATNT and the Trevor Project share a commitment to bringing an end to Lgbtq plus you suicide. Here's a way that you can help support the trevor project with a TNT. Every time you post on instagram or twitter, use Hashtag turn up the love and ATNT will donate ten to the Trevor Project, up to one hundred and twenty five thousand. So start using the Hashtag turn up the love today and let's help the Trevor Project with a TNT. Since nine one hundred and seventy five atnt has been a proud ally to the LGBTQ plus community. ATNT turn up the love is an events advocacy and editorial initiative to celebrate the LGBTQ plus community and to promote acceptance and ally ship. Atnt celebrates the pride in you by offering meaningful ways to have a positive impact on the LGBTQ plus community. Discover exclusive content, contests and events at turn up the LOVECOM. Welcome back. Today we're chatting with Toddra call, an artist whose accomplishments include creating and releasing several studio albums and serving as an executive producer for Taylor swift's you need to calm down music video. Earlier, toaddrick spoke about coming out to his family. His mother's negative reaction truly came as a shock to him. At the time, I didn't realize how much the the the religion and church like frown down upon being gay. I thought maybe it was an ideal, but I didn't realize that it was like such a huge abomination to most people. So and I felt like up until that point I had a really, really close relationship with my mom and I thought that I was in love. So I thought with this guy that was went to my school and I wanted to share that story with her, and I imagine the world where he'd come and we'd have dinner together and we go to events and my mom was so sweet and kind to all my friends. All my friends love to come to my house because my mom would sit down and talk for hours and hours, and that just wasn't the case. You know so, but that's why I wanted I think. I think everybody on this planet wants to be loved and wants to be accepted and wants to be embraced and unfortunately, people can only do the best they can. And I think that, even though my mom and I are not on great terms right now, we haven't spoken in a year actually, but I know in my heart of hearts that and my mom, even when she did things and said things that like, still scar me to this day or hurt my feelings or broke my heart like that, she was doing what she thought she needed to do to be a great mom and to protect me. And as a kid you have to just know that and you have to love your parents where they are and sometimes take a break from them. But, like, I'll never not love my mom, but some of the things that she has done, that my family is done, that the society has done, are scars that that may never heal during his adolescence. Taddrick missed out on...

...big milestones like dating and Prom because he wasn't free to live his life on his own terms. You can't go back in time and wish, you know, like I wish that I would have had a situation where and I could have gone to prom like all the straight kids get got to do and ask someone to go to prom and and then your parents be excited and see you come down the stairs like the movie. She's all that, and like to help you put on your flowers and your carsage or whatever you call it, and help you arnt the Limo and be excited for you like that. Was Not my experience and I didn't even go to my prom because I didn't want to go with a girl and I would never have dared told my mom I wanted to go to prom because she would have never accepted it, and not because she didn't love me, but because it was just, it was just beyond anything that she could conceptualize. Like embracing and accepting instead of living in the past, Taddick keeps moving forward and advocates for the LGBTQ community, with hope that queer teenagers can enjoy the prom he always dreamed of having. I try to be there for as many kids and as many parents also. I spend so many hours messaging and dming parents who are like I don't understand this, but I'm trying. I'm trying to bring my kid to this show. I'm trying to understand this. I'm trying to figure out these pronouns. I'm trying to figure out the difference between the L and G and the be and the tea. But in order for there to be changed, there has to be acceptance from both sides. Families and communities need to be more accepting and compassionate of the people who are Lgbtq, and the queer community has to be accepting of their new allies. If we're going to go out and March and put our fist up and paint walls and paint streets and banners to try to get people to change their minds and hearts, we have to be willing to accept those people when they do decide to come over. We can't still punish them for things that they did five years ago, ten years ago, six months ago. If someone is trying to reprogram the the stupid shit that the world is put into our minds and hearts. We have to accept them because we all, we all are foot from society, you know, like we and we all are just doing the best we can to try to get from point A to point B. So the next time there's a square everyone's supposed to post, don't attack somebody that didn't use the right Hashtag or didn't post it at the right hour or didn't you know, like they're they're trying and we are all just trying, you know, and love people where they are. Don't be the woke police and call them out and say you did it wrong, you're a horrible person. Like let's help each other and get in. Try to be understanding about the fact that this is all new for all of us. You do a lot of concerts. Are You bring your show to places like Salt Lake City or Utah, where, you know it's not like West Hollywood, it's not like Manhattan. It's very different. Health kitchen in particularly like the buqueer communities there, but it's just just not the same. Is there any when you're deciding where to bring a show, do you feel like, yeah, let's go there, where, like my message is important? Oh yeah, this is so funny that you're asking this and no one ever has. I love that you're saying this. I have fought and fought and fought and thought to go to Salt Lake City, to go to Utah, for so long. There was a time I called it theater and Tennessee and they were like, I'm sorry, but mean. They just school were straight up discouraging me and telling me I couldn't say cuss words, I couldn't do this, I was going to have to have extra security. They told me that their audience wouldn't buy tickets to come and see my show. And here we are in two thousand and twenty one and I've done two sold out concerts in Nashville and pointing back in two thousand and twenty two and when my agency is like telling me that the routing doesn't make sense for me to go to Utah next year's costing me so much money because the drive is so long. I have to fly in and extra driver and pay them double time...

...to help drive the drive from Los Angeles for three different for two buses and a truck. I have to do it times three, but it's just so worth it to me because I feel like those people need to see queer artists, need to see black artist coming to Utah and performing for them. And and so yes, I do, and I fight for it and I will spend extra money to go there and potentially lose money because I think the message and the overall my existence in Utah, I feel is necessary. Despite toddects dedication to reaching his community, sometimes reality steps in and kicks you where it hurts. I feel like sometimes seem were like, yes, we want you to do this, but we're going to put you at the worst time thought, or we're going to put you on a day when no one watches the show. Or you're going to be a part of this, but can you rewrite it and can you make it more fit into this is some like are the other artist that you ask, how are they having to rewrite their music in order to get the same opportunity? And I'm like, I should be able to be on the show or be in the room or be a part of the project without having to do more than all of the other people who are there. And it is frustrating and sometimes there and there are days where I consider throwing in the towel or walking away from opportunities but I think it's so important for me to be in the room. But taddrick persist and doesn't let discrimination take away from his end goals. At the end of the day, I'm willing to show up. I'm willing to be there for probably less money than you paid someone else, because I think it's important for the kids that are going to watch this show to see me there, and that's that is what I need. That and what keeps me pushing from project to project and keeps me going, because I think this message is just so, so, so unbelievably important and this battle goes beyond concert venues. Every every day, every project that I do, I feel like I'm having to jump through hurdles. It gets exhausting. I feel like I have to deliver times ten. Every single time I put out a video or something, it has to be at a certain level, a certain caliber, because if not, then it might not be accepted. So it's really difficult, but it's so worth it. Another outlet toddic has utilized to spread his message is documentaries. In two thousand and seventeen he released behind the curtain, a documentary on his life as a queer kid in Texas and its journey to stardom with behind the curtain. Honestly, I was not a big fan of documentaries, not that I wasn't a fan, but I just didn't watch them. But they approached me and said, would you be interested in doing this, and I said sure, I'd be, I'd do it, and it was really, really awesome because I never realized, you know, when you have like a gift, sometimes it doesn't seem like a gift to you. But people being able to watch the process of something coming out, because aptually out of my brain onto music, onto onto film, on to a stage, was really, really cool. And I'm also a person that I have high expectations for myself and I have to admit that during the time I did my first ray out of Oz tour, I sold a tour with music that no one knew and it didn't come out to like a week or two before the album, and there would be days where they'd be two thousand seats and I'd Se one Thousan eighteen hundred and ninety five seats, and I would look at that as a failure. I would look at is I will, you didn't sell out. It's the point of performing and when I watch that documentary, it changed my whole perspective because I got to see what I never get to see, the kids being so excited with their costumes and their banners and their posters running into the theater, and it made me realize that what I was doing was so much bigger than that and so much more important than being able to post a sign on the Marquis saying it was sold out. It was so and impactful and powerful for those kids to see and I now I'll go on my tour and of course I want to sell out like any person, but I can have just as much fun performing for an audience of four hundred as I do for...

...an audience of four thousand. I'm so grateful to every single person who buys a ticket to come out and supports me and dresses up and it's just incredible for me to see and I changed my entire outlook on everything and it's something I'm so proud of because it's the most real, raw and true documentary about what it's like to be in my head, to be a part of my team and to be a part of creating these videos that have given me this platform and a level of success that I would not have had without people supporting me on social media long before it was cool and trendy and in fashion to support a queer black lgbtq plus artist. DODGIC has released several albums throughout his career, including House party, a three part EP series geared towards the LGBTQ plus community, and for other studio albums. His newest released, femuline, came out this year just in time for pride month. He says it's a love letter to the LGBTQ plus community, but it's also for anybody who just wants to feel fabulous, who doesn't feel like they really belong in the box set societies put them in. I was so happy, I didn't even realize this until I was looking at some feedback on social media the other day, that every person who collaborated me as a person of color, from tyra to ts Madison to Britney Spears, to Shaka Khan to Nicolasters and your I'm very, very proud of that. I think it's an album full of anthem the songs that people have never talked about. It took me a long time to embrace my fibilinity of my feminine side and my masculine side and be okay with telling that line and dipping toes in both sides, and I think a lot of people in the LGBTQ community I've been longing for that permission for a long time. So this album is something I'm very, very proud of. It's the best response I've ever gotten from any piece of art I've put out. It's very specific, so I'm interested to see how other people perceive it and how they embrace it. But to see people dancing to it and using it to you know, for their dance classes, in their zooma classes and stuff, is really awesome for me and it makes me really happy and I can't wait to continue to create art that is for this specific group of people that I feel underserved and deserving great oops and anthems. So what's next for Tadraic? My tickets for my faminline world tour on sale now at Toadra CALLCOM. I have a toy that's out. It's like a little version of me and my low costume. That's available. It's on my social media. The album is available now to stream and downloads. Please check it out. Please join in the tick tock of it all. You don't have to be the greatest dance or get your umbrella and go outside and dance with it, and I can't wait for you all to see the new projects I have come in the future. I'm working on new music projects, books, musicals and I think there's a lot in store. I'm excited. The fire has been ignited within me and I hope to continue to make my family, my home town, texts, my community, Theil to be to P bus community and the African American community proud. So probably a part of both of those communities and I'm just grateful for all the love and support that I've seen shower only over the past week. You can connect with Todd Recht on twitter, instagram and Tick Tock at Taddreck Todric k. This episode was presented by at and T. thanks for listening and helping US turn up the love. Pride is a production of Straw hut media. If you like the show, leave us a rating and a review on Apple, podcast, spotify or whever you're tuning in from. Be Sure to follow us on Instagram at pride and tune into our IGTV for new episodes weekly, featuring amazing queer people. If you'd like to connect...

...with me, you can follow me everywhere at lead by chambers. Pride is produced by me, lead by chambers, Maggie Bowls, Bryan Tillotson and Caitlyn mcdaniel, edited by Sebastian Alcala and Daniel Fer are. Sound mixing by Sebastian Paul Calm and, if it was about money, you could just add a show to lat angelas until everyone to come here and just sell out again. Yeah, if that was the Casey, I can stay here and drive over to the Zaban Theater. Yeah, it's not about money to meet.

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