'Abuse and misuse': RuPaul star Todrick Hall's take on cancel culture

Gillian Wolski
Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
Todrick Hall accepts the 'Video For Good' MTV Music Video Awards with Taylor Swift for her "You Need To Calm Down" music video which Todrick co-executive produced. Photo: Getty Images.

Todrick Hall has come a long way since he auditioned - and subsequently made it to the semi-finals - on American Idol in 2010.

In the intervening decade, the multi-talented Texan had conquered YouTube, released two chart-topping albums, starred on Broadway and joined RuPaul’s Drag Race as resident choreographer.

These days, the 34-year-old is on Idol judge Simon Cowell’s lucrative payroll, counts global superstar Taylor Swift as his BFF and boasts a loyal fan following of ‘Toddlers’ all over the world.

“The fact that I’m able to change peoples’ lives and inspire kids to dance and sing and perform by sharing my gift is just so worth it,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle in an exclusive chat.

Cancel culture ‘lost its power’

While Todrick may be ‘living the dream’ he’s well aware of the pitfalls of celebrity, namely the recent online phenomenon of ‘cancel culture’ whereby a famous individual or group is boycotted or ‘cancelled’ because of something controversial they’ve said, done or been involved in.

In his opinion, since emerging as a hashtag on social media several years ago cancel culture has evolved from a positive, ‘power to the people’ type of expression to something more sinister.

“When it started out, cancel culture was such a beautiful thing because it was a way for people to not be silenced,” the “Nails, Hair, Hips, Heels” hit-maker says.

Todrick has come a long way since his American Idol days. Photo: supplied.

“But now, if someone finds a comment that somebody said ten years ago that wasn’t considered politically incorrect at the time but is now, people want their careers to be over and they want to ruin them,” he explains.

“I think we’ve lost sight of the purpose of cancel culture and, as with anything, if you use it too much or abuse and misuse it, it loses its power,” he adds.

Todrick says he hopes to remind everyone of what cancel culture is - and isn’t - so it can be used ‘to evoke positive change’.

In order to remain on what he calls the ‘right side of change’, the trained ballet dancer is committed to ‘evolving, working on himself and making mistakes’.

“I used to be afraid of making mistakes but now I’ve realised that mistakes are the most beautiful part of being human. You have to fall to be able to get back up and learn how to not fall again,” he says.

Todrick and Taylor on set of the "You Need To Calm Down" music video. Photo: Instagram/todrick.

BFFs with Bey and Tay

Despite that, Todrick admits he’s hesitant to fully embrace the title of ‘role model’ for his millions of fans.

“That seems like a lot of pressure,” he says.

“My story has been so unique because I just wanted to make [YouTube] videos and have fun on the internet and the responsibility [to be a role model] came at a strange place,” he adds.

That’s not to say Todrick doesn’t look up to other stars - singers Beyoncé and Taylor Swift in particular - for guidance and inspiration.

“It’s so important for me to have people like Beyoncé and Taylor Swift to look up to but also to be my mentors and friends because I think both of those women are really strong and what they do for the world and for society is so amazing,” he says.

“I thank them for supporting the LGBTQ+ community and for standing up for what they think is morally and ethically right,” he adds.

As he says, Todrick has gone on to become close pals and collaborators with both Bey and Tay, having most recently starred in and co-executive produced the latter’s music video for the LGBTQ+ positive anthem, “You Need To Calm Down”.

He’s also come full circle with one of the most powerful men in showbiz who once told him he should stick to musical theatre and call it a day over a decade ago.

“I had never thought that Simon [Cowell] and I would ever see each other again and be friends,” Todrick says of his new judging gig on The Greatest Dancer, Simon’s latest reality TV show.

“Now I’m working for him and working with him on a level where we are peers and coworkers as opposed to me being a contestant trying to prove something to him,” he adds.

Todrick Hall is bringing his Haus Party tour Down Under. Photo: supplied.

Todrick Down Under

Todrick is excited to bring his all-singing, all-dancing Haus Party tour to Australia later this year, marking his fourth visit Down Under.

“I love the culture, I love the people, everybody is so sweet,” he says of his Aussie fans.

While he’s sad to be missing Sydney’s annual Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras by just a few weeks, Todrick hints to Yahoo Lifestyle that he might make an appearance int he near future.

“Maybe next year I’ll be able to come as a performer because I love what I see on social media and how your country embraces it,” he reveals.

You heard it here first, Toddlers.

Update: Todrick’s nationwide Haus Party tour has been rescheduled from April 2020 to January 2021 due to COVID-19 self-quarantine restrictions. Venues are unchanged. More info can be found here.

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