‘Queer Eye’ star Karamo Brown will deliver the graduation speech at Chaffey College on May 23, spreading wisdom to new college grads just like he has inspired millions from his reality television show.
Karamo Brown, 38, captured hearts everywhere after Queer Eye premiered on Netflix on Feb. 7, 2018 as the Culture expert on the show. After more than a year of being part of the beloved “Fab Five” – which includes Tan France, 36, (style), Bobby Berk, 37, (design), Antoni Porowski, 35, (food), and Jonathan Van Ness, 32, (grooming) – Karamo spoke with HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY about Queer Eye, what viewers don’t see on the show, and how reality television has changed in the last 15 years. When asked about the piece of advice he’d give to fans who are struggling with something at the moment, whether it’s sexuality, an insecurity, or trying to succeed, Karamo said, “I’d encourage them to be patient with themselves. So often we get to a space where we’re always thinking, ‘I have to keep up with the next person, or I’m at this age and I haven’t accomplished this, so there’s something wrong with me.’ [It] does a disservice.”
The star continued, “We’re designing our journey, whether we are going slow or fast, that journey is just as beautiful as any other journey. If you have a goal in mind – in one day or in 10 years, you will get there.” Karamo suggested that “small gestures to yourself can make a big difference in your own life.” He offered the example of not being “mean” to yourself, and instead showering yourself with kindness. “Like saying, ‘I’m not gonna be mean to myself this morning. I’m going to be kind to myself, that will allow me to feel more confident going into the world and feeling better,’” he said.
Karamo, who attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, made history on MTV’s The Real World: Philadelphia back in 2004 when he was the first out gay black man on a reality television show. In Karamo’s opinion, the medium of reality tv is “the same.” He said what has changed is how he has used reality television to connect with others. “My desire to use the medium as more of a space to help people, versus when I was on The Real World, I was not focusing on my own issues, and deflecting the fact that I wasn’t comfortable with who I was through hostility,” Karamo said. “Now I’ve done the work on myself, I want to help other people to do the work themselves. That’s the power of reality television: to inspire people.”
On the Netflix show, each member of the Fab Five targets an area of the hero’s (the subject’s) life – in the aforementioned categories above. Karamo, in his role, really gets to the “emotional core” of the heroes, targeting the most vulnerable parts of that person, and helps them. “To get to their emotional core, I spend the most amount of time with the heroes,” Karamo said. He mentioned that he’s often the one driving the heroes around on the show, and he said that that’s actually a strategy to get them to open up.
“In between driving the heroes, I can have a conversation with them that allows them to be more open and more receptive to expressing their truth to me,” Karamo said. “Especially for me, I can’t just physically see what they have on their home or their hair and say, ‘Let me change it.’ It takes some digging.”
“The car is a secret trick of mine from social services,” Karamo said, mentioning his tenure as a social worker, which he did for 10 years after The Real World: Philadelphia. “People are intimidated by direct eye contact. Take a car ride, and then have the same conversation, not looking at each other. It gives people the option to feel comfortable about expressing themselves without intimidating them, that you’re looking at them or they’re being judged. I drive next to them, they can look out the window, and express at their own pace versus me staring at them and saying, ‘Open up now.’”
Completely in character for Karamo, he will soon inspire the graduates of Chaffey College, a two-year community college in California, by delivering the commencement address on May 23. This will mark as his first-ever commencement speech. Karamo’s address, which is in partnership with EXTRA Refreshers gum, will be available to watch on the EXTRA Gum YouTube channel after the ceremony, and we can’t wait to watch him inspire others, even more.
Written By: Elana Rubin