A native of Texas, Todrick Hall, is a singer, songwriter, dancer, actor, choreographer, playwright, costume designer, Broadway performer, “American Idol” finalist, star of his own self-titled MTV Show and viral YouTube sensation with over 2 million subscribers and 400 million views.
Dancing since the tender age of 9, Todrick is a classically-trained ballet dancer who has traveled the world performing. His Broadway credits include Oprah Winfrey’s “The Color Purple,” the 2010 Tony Award winning musical “Memphis,” and most recently his box office record breaking run as Lola in “Kinky Boots.”
He has had the honor of opening the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards, being a judge on “Rupaul’s Drag Race” and “Gay for Play,” choreographing music videos for Beyonce, writing and starring in the Virgin America Safety Video, Fiat Commercials and the theme song for the new online version of Jim Henson’s “Sesame Street.”
In 2016, Todrick released the highly-acclaimed visual album, “Straight Outta Oz,” which debuted at #2 on the iTunes Album chart. Featured artists include Jordin Sparks, Perez Hilton, Nicole Scherzinger, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Todrick hit the road that year with his “Straight Outta Oz” tour which spanned the United States.
From a small town in Texas to big-time show business, comes an inspiring documentary of grit, perseverance and the redemptive power of art. In “Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall,” we watch him struggle to write songs about growing up gay and black in small-town Texas, his difficult relationship with his mom, and the harsh realities of trying to make it in show business. With limited time and budget, the odds are against him, but Todrick’s passion and his team of talented performers overcome all obstacles to bring this story to the world.
It was a pleasure for Hotspots to sit down with Todrick to talk about his documentary.
Q: At what age did entertaining become an interest of yours and when did you realize it would officially be your career?
A: At eight years old I was introduced to theater and fell in love the moment I saw my first show. I did realize, even at that moment, that there was nothing else I had ever been as passionate about. However, it’s when I got to high school, and started auditioning that I knew this would be the thing I would do for life. I actually made a deal with my mom, and it was if I audition for Disney and I get it she would allow me to not go to college. I got hired at Disney to be in the “Beauty and the Beast” production and the rest is history!
Q: Who were/are your inspirations in the singing/acting/Broadway industry?
A: The first people to inspire me were Lauren Hill in “Sister Act 2” and Brandy in “Cinderella.” But now I love Rascal Flats, Beyonce, Jazmine Sullivan and Mariah Carey.
Q: What made you try out for “American Idol”?
A: I was in the “Color Purple” on Broadway with Fantasia and saw how it changed her life. She helped inspire me, so I took the plunge.
Q: How did you discover YouTube and did you ever expect to be as popular as you are?
A: I discovered it accidentally after I got eliminated from American Idol. I was so nervous to perform after being eliminated so I started making videos and found YouTube to put them on. I started getting a lot of response from it immediately, so I decided to make a name for myself, and host many videos on YouTube. However, I never expected it to get this big. In just a few years I have made friends with Beyonce, Arianna Grande, RuPaul and my new bestie Taylor Swift.
Q: How did “Straight Outta Oz” come about and were you happy with the outcome?
A: It came about because I was talking to Taylor Swift and she said she uses a lot of her experience to write her songs. I realized I was a victim of a lot of homophobia and racism in the industry and I decided to write the album. When I was reflecting I realized the only thing I was super passionate about was the “Wizard of Oz,” so I wanted to tell my story and parallel it with the “Wizard of Oz.” The more I thought of it, I realized I was living the story of the “Wizard of Oz.” Yes, I was very happy with the outcome.
Q: At what point did you decide to make the documentary, “Behind the Curtain: Todrick Hall,” and how did you feel once you actually watched the final product?
A: I cannot take credit for the idea to do the documentary. Awesomeness approached me to do the documentary and I agreed to it with the provision that it had to be a true representation of what my team and I experience. They agreed, and I’m so glad that I did it. I had no idea how well this project would turn out, and how proud I would be of it. I’m so grateful that I now have the entire thing documented for me and my unborn children to watch and enjoy.
Q: Tell me something people would be surprised to know about you.
A: I’m super insecure, and I don’t allow people to film me or photograph me with my shirt off. There are only two in existence that I know of and in one of them I’m a mermaid, and it’s just my back. That was the NUMBER ONE RULE during the documentary that no footage of me shirtless could be used. I’m crazy about it. Working on it though.
Q: Describe yourself in three words.
A: Spontaneous, loving and sassy
Q: What does the future hold for Todrick Hall?
A: I want to EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony), and I want to write musicals and stories that shine a light on an underserved community. I want to change the game and do projects that are out of the box but just in time for what the world needs and is ready for. I want to do Broadway, Television, Film, Music, Children’s Theatre, and clothing lines and someday have a family and a well-behaved dog to take care of.