Todrick Hall worked his ass off to do things his way, and it’s paying off
Tammye Nash | Managing Editor
“I would like to not always be this busy,” Todrick Hall told Dallas Voice in a recent interview. But it doesn’t look like the Texas native’s schedule is likely to lighten up any time soon.
Hall, who was born in Plainview then later moved to the DFW area, brings his Haus Party Tour home to Dallas’ Bomb Factory on Thursday, Nov. 21, before heading to Beverly Hills for the last tour stop this year on Saturday, Nov. 23.
In the new year, Hall heads “Down Under” for a March 26 show in Wellington, New Zealand, followed by an April 2 show in Brisbane, Australia.
It’s a busy end to what has been a very busy — and very rewarding — year for the young man whose made himself into an international star through his own hard work and creativity, without benefit of a record label or management.
“I am an unsigned artist. … I do it all by myself, and I worked my ass off to do it,” Hall said.
Although Hall worked in stage musicals in New York, including a stint on Broadway in The Color Purple with 2004 American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino, and made it to the semifinals on American Idol in 2011, it was his original videos — from hilarious parodies (his “Once Upon a Crime” series, for example), to an original, full-length stage musical in video form (Straight Outta Oz, which he then turned into a successful concert tour), to this year’s Haus Party songs and videos that have taken Hall to all new heights of popularity.
Along the way, he starred in a pop-music safety video for Virgin American airlines, produced and starred in a holiday commercial for MTV, created the docu-series Todrick for MTV, became an occasional guest judge and later a choreographer for Ru-Paul’s Drag Race and headed back to Broadway to take over the lead role of Lola in the hit musical Kinky Boots.
But 2019 is proving to be perhaps the biggest year yet for Hall, with his sold-out Haus Party concerts, Haus Party videos that have created a spike in his YouTube subscribers and video hits and his role as co-executive producer of the video for his friend Taylor Swift’s LGBT rights mega-hit “You Need to Calm Down,” a video that snagged not just the 2019 MTV VMA “Video for Good Award,” but also the VMA for “Video of the Year.”
Hall started 2019 with about 2.9 million subscribers to his YouTube channel, and 588 million channel views. Today he has at least 3.42 million subscribers and well over 7.13 million views. He debuted his Haus Party video album at the end of May with the video for “Nails, Hair, Hips, Heels.” It and the rest of the Haus Party songs, he has said, were made with a specific audience in mind: the LGBT community, and the LGBT dance clubs.
“NHHH” has, Hall admitted, “some very choice lyrics.” But at the same time, he said, “There’s just something about this song that is making people feel free.
It’s not an activist song, it’s just got a cool beat that you want to dance to.
“I had a very clear vision of what I wanted to do in the video,” he continued. “Come out in black latex with the pink heels, then all the other colors come out. I wanted to do a male version of the Rockettes, and it just turns into a rainbow. The video and the song together were just a perfect marriage; it’s just so poppy to look at, but at the same time, [there is a message in the idea of] 80 men dancing together in heels in a warehouse.”
While “NHHH” was the first Haus Party song/video released, others quickly followed, including one simply named “Fag.” The video premiered on YouTube on Sept. 25 and already has more than 2.3 million views.
The opening lines prove Hall’s intention to “reclaim,” as it were, a word that has for so long been used to hurt the LGBT community: “They call me fag, now I’m the one with the bag. They call me bitch, now look who famous and rich.”
Hall said he knew he was taking a chance with the song, but it was a chance he wanted to take.
“’FAG’ — I have always hated being called this word. I don’t like it. At all. That word has destroyed so many people’s confidence. It’s a word that makes me cringe. Like the N word, it has so much power attached to it. It’s just a word, made up of letters. But because it has been used to make people feel less than human, it does hold power.”
The idea of the song, and the video, Hall said, was to say, “To all the people who tried to bring me down, look at me now! I wanted to make a statement, to reclaim this word and make you feel badass.
“I get a lot of comments on that song,” he added. “I really expected to get a lot of backlash over it. But from what I’ve seen, it’s only gotten positive commentary.”
The success of both Haus Party Pt. 1 (“NHHH,” “I Like Boys,” “Chapstick,” “Relove,” “Glitter,” “Attention” and “Amen”) and Haus Party Pt. 2 (“Cake Pop,” “Two,” “Fag,” “Y.A.S.,” “Dripeesha” and “Wig”) — all of which have been explicitly queer-centric — seems to show that despite the regressive political regime currently in power, Americans are moving toward a more open and accepting future.
“It makes me happy,” Hall said of that apparent pathway to a brighter future. “People have gone through a long, rough journey, especially in Texas.”
Noting that he grew up in a time when there “were no shows for young kids about coming out and being cool,” it is especially heartening now to see the success of TV programs like Glee and Pose, and movies like Love, Simon. “It is wonderful for young people to not have to just imagine what it’s like, but to be able to see people like them falling in love and being happy,” he said.
Still, we have a ways to go. “Every year, we get one gay movie, and we have to hope that every gay person gets to see and likes that one movie,” Hall said. “I want to see 10 great queer films every year. That is something that is really, really necessary.”
And it’s something that Hall hopes to make happen. As the Haus Party tour is winding down, Hall said, “It is time to start doing whatever is next for my career.” What does that mean, though? Well, it means a lot of things.
Perhaps he will write and produce a Broadway musical, an idea he has long been passionate about. He also wants to get into television and film — perhaps a scripted series on Netflix, a screenplay maybe, or even a children’s book.
Whatever he chooses — one or all of those ideas — Hall said he intends to keep creating projects that “speak truth to myself” and to his community.
“I look around at how lucky we are, and at the same time, it is heartbreaking to live in a world where it’s still not accepted everywhere to be gay. Right here in our own country, trans women are being killed,” he said. “I’m grateful to be alive right now, when my voice matters. I’m grateful to have the chance to fight for our rights, to go to marches and to make huge statements that can help change lives.”
And Hall also wants others to know that he’s living his dream, and they can live theirs, too.
“I never needed permission to live my dream,” he declared. “I am selling out shows because me and my friends are doing what we want to do, the way we want to do it. But that’s not a privilege just for a few people. It’s something everybody has the chance to do for themselves. If you want to be a singer, or a dancer, or an author — then do it!
“If you have a dream, do it now,” he urged. “Don’t assume you have til tomorrow, because this life can be so short, so fragile. Just believe in yourself; believe that you can do it, that anything is possible. Those words — you can do it, anything is possible — those words are so powerful to say to your kids, to your siblings, to your friends and to yourself.
“Anything is possible.”
Todrick Hall brings his Haus Party tour to The Bomb Factory, 2713 Canton St. in Deep Ellum, Dallas, on Thursday, Nov. 21. Doors open at 7 p.m.; show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $44 and are available online at SeatBomb.com