Why You Need People Who Won't Coddle You | Chris Colfer on Impact Theory | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "Why You Need People Who Won't Coddle You | Chris Colfer on Impact Theory".


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Intro (00:00)

I'm in a weird place right now because I played a bullied kid on national television. 20 million people a week watched me get pushed into lockers and thrown on floors and called a faggot, called queer, all these negative things. And I experienced all that myself in real life. And I really let people know that that was one of the reasons why they are maybe connecting to my performance so much was because it was coming from such a real place. And I let people know that I was bullied horribly when I was a kid. I was bullied so badly in middle school that my mom actually took me out of school and started homeschooling me just because the harassment got so severe. But I'm at this weird place right now where I feel like, I'm so not a victim anymore that I kind of, maybe that's my ego, I don't know. I think I get tired of being associated with someone who is bullied because I don't allow that to happen anymore at all. I'm proud of kind of where I'm at now because because the minute I see someone who tries to take advantage of me or isn't kind, I have the option to walk away now, which I didn't when I was a kid. - Everyone, welcome to Impact Theory. Today's guest is a multi-hyphenic creator, best known for his star making turn on the smash hit television series, Glee, for 121 episodes across six seasons. He played Kurt Hummel, the openly gay teenager with the unbelievably beautiful voice. It ended up being the role of a lifetime, but the combination of having grown up in a very conservative family from a small town outside of Fresno, California, and getting cast fresh out of high school at the age of just 18, the idea of taking the role actually terrified him, but take it he did and millions of people tuned in every week to watch him and his fellow cast members perform. Along the way, he earned not only a massive following of Arden fans from all over the world, but he won a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and three People's Choice Awards. But being a world famous actor with one of the most recognizable voices on the planet was not enough for him. And since departing the show, he's not only continued his Hollywood career as a triple threat who can also write, direct, and produce, he's managed to turn himself into a number one New York Times best-selling author with 15 published books to his name. He's even working with 20th Century Fox and Disney to turn his first book in the Land of Stories series, The Wishing Spell, into a major motion picture which he himself is slated to helm. All of this would be amazing and completely dazzle anybody at any age, but it becomes truly mind-boggling when you consider he hasn't even reached his 30th birthday yet. So please help me in welcoming the man Time Magazine named as one of 2011's 100 Most Influential People, the incredibly talented Chris Kollfer. - Thank you so much.

Chris Colfer'S Life And Influences

Fantasy storytelling (03:16)

- I'm really excited to come. - Okay, welcome. - Thank you. - You got it, thank you. Can you just come with me everywhere and repeat that? - That was the plan. I thought if I write this well enough, you and I can go to Comic-Cons together. - Good to hear, oh my God. - Which is exactly what I wanna talk about. I think that you and I share maybe a vision on how story can be used to impact people, certainly hearing you talk a lot about as a kid sort of coming up with stories and that being a big part of your formative years is something I can very much relate with. What is it about storytelling and Comic-Con in particular that is interesting to you? - Oh gosh, I think it's all a matter of fantasy, isn't it? For me, I always loved superhero novels and graphic novels and movies and I loved stories about witches and wizards because in those worlds you get to be whatever you wanna be. And I think sometimes there's so many limitations in reality that those kinds of stories can be very, very encouraging. - In a fantasy, in a comic book, a mouse can slay a dragon if it's courageous enough. And that can be very, very therapeutic for those of us who haven't quite slayed our dragons yet. - That's really interesting. As a kid, when did you start to feel ostracized? I know that you talked about being bullied as a kid. When did that kind of stuff start? - Oh gosh, at birth. I think my nuclear family was very small but my extended family was very large and I was very much the runt of that family. So I always was kind of the person that got me fun of the most because I was the youngest. So yeah, it started at home and then things just got worse when I went to school. I was a very, very eccentric kid.

When did Chris feel ostracized (04:59)

I do not know how my parents did it. I think of some of the things that I did and said and I don't know how I was not killed. But yeah, I was very different. Growing up, my dad was really funny and I remember trying so desperately to be like him because I thought if I learned to make people laugh, I would be on their good side instantly. And I think I tried that a little too much. I think I alienated a lot of friendships when I was early on in elementary school because of that. - Was it like an Andy Kaufman kind of humor approach or what was it about that that animated? - I'm not sure there was a style to it. I think for me, anything was fair game. I just wanted to make people laugh because to me, if you could make people laugh, you were their friend instantly. And then as I got older, I think that interest sort of changed and storytelling because I think as a young person, writing was the only way I could get anyone to listen to me or to hear me out without someone wondering what was wrong with my voice. And so that became a very useful tool as I got older. So your voice then, which of course now, you've become incredibly famous for and it becomes the thing that just singles you out so rapidly and you have such an amazing singing voice.

Chris high voice (06:14)

- Oh, thanks. - But that was like a real source spot for you. - Oh, absolutely. It was what I was made fun of for the most growing up. It's actually gotten much cheaper as I've gotten older, believe it or not. But that was the quickest way someone could insult me. And they did. I grew up in a very, very conservative town where being different was not accepted. It was just having a high-pitched voice was like you were the outcast, just for that. So I remember people, even adults, even teachers would give me these looks when they'd hear me speak. And I was a very talented singer. And I could sing like the song "Defying Gravity," like no one's business. I could sing all of the high parts in Phantom of the Opera. But that meant I was useless to any choir director or any drama teacher. - Interesting. So you weren't.

Being a character in Glee (07:20)

I always, I guess, sort of imagined that your real life was very glee-esque in that you were seeing all through middle school and high school. - It was. And I definitely did. I sang in the choir. I quit choir because I got tired of standing. I was in a lot of school plays. I was never the lead role or anything. I always had small roles in the background. But yeah, no, it's interesting. I think, I hope I'm not patting myself on the back. I think I played that character and glee very, very well. And people really do think I was playing myself and although we were experiencing very, very similar things, I was very different from that character. I'm much more cynical than that character.

Character from Game of Thrones (08:09)

- Interesting. In fact, so I'm glad you brought that up. I heard you in an interview, somebody asked you if you were a character from Game of Thrones, who would you be? And you said, I want to say that I would be the mother of dragons, but I think I'm actually Cersei. - Yeah. - What did you mean by that? - I'm sorry. I just, she's a woman who knows what she wants and she goes out and she gets it. I mean, you know, her methods and her strategy is a little questionable, you know, but-- - I think that's fair to say. - I just, I don't know, I love anyone with a drive. And I remember when I was in senior year of my high school, I was chosen to put on my own show. It's called The Senior Show. And every year, one senior in the drama class got selected to basically put on whatever they wanted. And usually they would do like SNL type, you know, variety, sketch kind of shows. But I was like, nope, I'm writing a musical. And I gender reversed Sweeney Todd and called it Shirley Todd. So I could be, so I could be Mrs. Lovett, so I was Mr. Lovett. And because we were all seniors, no one wanted to do it. I ended up, I ended up blackmailing all of them to be in it. And it was a great show. - Walk me through how that drive and ambition has manifested in your life. Is that something you value in yourself? Is it something that you're skeptical of in yourself? 'Cause you, when you answer that question and I fully understand that it was a little tongue in cheek, but when you say that I fear that I'm actually Cersei, is there part of you that is very cognizant that there is a line that you can cross with drive and ambition or? - Oh, I think so. I think I've never quite gotten to the point where I was so ambitious where I was causing harm. But I think ambition is so much of who I am, maybe to a fault, but never to the point where I feel like I'm harming anyone or anything. I think growing up, ambition and hopes and goals and dreams, that was literally all I had. My family didn't have much money and I wasn't good looking and I wasn't athletic. I could act, I could sing, I could write, but there aren't many areas for you to do that when you're a young person, at least when I was a young person, there weren't. And so I think my ambition sort of just became my imaginary friend. It was a survival tool. It wasn't narcissism, it was survival. - In that I can be somewhere else one day, I can be bigger than this, I can go places. Is that the sort of savior mechanism? - Yeah, I think it was making a treasure map to a life that was better than what I was in currently. I, that's what really what it was for me. Hence why also I identified so much with fantasy and superhero in Greek mythology and literature. It was all part of a, yeah, I was used to fictitious people as my examples of getting somewhere.

Harry Potter (11:01)

- Give me some examples, who were people? - Oh gosh, Harry Potter, I guess, that's a good one. - What is it you like about Harry Potter? - Oh God, oh my God, it's like Harry Potter was like my religion growing up, so it's a hard, hard to answer. I don't know if it was actually him, because when I was reading Harry Potter, he wasn't even, he wasn't my favorite character by it, by a long shot, I loved Ron, Hermione and Professor McGonagall. Those are the characters that I love, but I think Harry Potter just in general was, when I was a kid, that was just the first time I ever remember enjoying reading. I had dyslexia, I was not a good reader. I needed reading glasses to read, and I didn't find that out much later in life, so reading physically hurt me. And it wasn't until I was in junior high school when I told the teacher that, and they said, well you really should get your eyes checked, and I did, and lo and behold, I was far-sighted. So Harry Potter was a huge introduction to literature for me, and it inspired me to be a storyteller myself. - So I think it's interesting that you didn't find Harry Potter to be the most compelling character. I find that a lot, I even find that sometimes when I'm writing, that making the main character the most interesting, the most intriguing, when they have so much sort of heavy lifting to do, can sometimes be difficult, whereas you can make a side character, be a little more flippant. - Yes, yeah.

Healing from PTSD (12:25)

- It can be a bigger personality, a very specific flavor, if you will. What was it about Iran or Hermione or a Professor McGonagall that actually really drew you in, and how were you using what you were reading as a way to deal with what you were going through, and so let that hang in the air for a minute, because one thing that I heard you say, which I think is really interesting, is I was bullied pretty relentlessly, but it is not a daily thing for me, and that if people didn't ask me about it in interviews, I wouldn't even think about it. That is so extraordinary, that you've been able to get out of that, so part of what I want to package up for the listener at home right now is like, how do they take anything? It doesn't even have to be a fictional story, but what were those things that you got from those characters, even if it was just escapism, and then you leveraged that breathing room to center yourself or whatever it was, but how did you use that to not be diminished by the bullying? - Hmm, I think it's all about vulnerability, to tie those two questions together. I think one of the reasons why audiences respond to secondary characters, rather than the lead characters, because the lead character usually, if it's written really well, shows their heart on their sleeve, and you relate to them with vulnerability, with their fear and with their desires, where the other characters, you're not quite as connected to them, so they can just be, they're pure escapism. They are the people that you want to be, because you're not quite as familiar with their challenges as you are the main character. But yeah, and to go back to what you said about bullying is I'm in a weird place right now, because I played a bullied kid on national television, 20 million people a week watched me get pushed into lockers and thrown on floors, and called a faggot, called queer, all these negative things, and I experienced all that myself in real life. And I really, like, I let people know that that was one of the reasons why they are maybe connecting to my performance so much was because it was coming from such a real place. And I let people know that I was bullied horribly when I was a kid. I was bullied so badly in middle school that my mom actually took me out of school and started homeschooling me, because the harassment got so severe. But I'm at this weird place right now where I feel like I'm so not a victim anymore that I kind of, maybe that's my ego, I don't know. I think I get tired of being associated with someone who is bullied, because I don't allow that to happen anymore at all. I'm proud of kind of where I'm at now, because because the minute I see someone who tries to take advantage of me or isn't kind, I have the option to walk away now, which I didn't when I was a kid. But I feel like I have to, at certain point, I have to stop talking about it because I've told so many millions, I've told millions and millions of kids around the world that that is something you get to leave behind. But because of my circumstances, I don't get to leave it behind because I'm always asked about it. And it's a good thing to talk about because it's still going on, but at a certain point, I feel like I'm doing, I'm doing the kids who look up to me to service when I keep talking about it, because it does, maybe for them, does seem like it doesn't leave me. Does that make sense? - It does, definitely. If these were gonna be the last words that you ever spoke on the subject of healing from being bullied, what would you want people to understand? Like, what was your process to close that chapter, to feel good about yourself, and I'm definitely putting words in your mouth, but to be reborn in some way where that is not who you are anymore? - Well, I think it's really just knowing that you get to move on from it. That's the thing is, is you, look, the adolescence is the toughest time in your life, I think, because you have no freedom, but you have all the responsibility. You are expected to make adult decisions, but you don't get the benefits of being adult. And you are literally trapped in an environment, high school, unless you're homeschooled, where you have no control over who you're around. And probably the one the lesson, or the bridge that I've crossed in my life that has given me the most relief, is knowing that I don't have to be in any environment that I do not want to be in. And I think that would be the message that I'd give the kids who are being bullied. But also, look, the world is full of assholes. Like, bullies, bullies, they do go away at a certain point, but there are always people in your life that you don't like, that are mean, that are rude. And I think sometimes when you do go through a period of harassment, especially when you're young, you do learn how to overcome that, and how to maybe not have peace with, maybe have some inner peace. It's not really outer peace, 'cause you can really control the world around you. But you do learn a lot. You learn a lot of good communication skills, I think.

Creating your own identity (17:36)

How do you think about identity creation? So I think a lot about the notion of really deciding what story you're going to tell yourself about who you are. And that in that story, whatever you're repeating to yourself is gonna become your reality, because you're gonna see that over and over and over. Was, is that a tool that you use? Like, I know that people, originally, it was hard for you to convince them that you could write. So they're like, well, you're obviously a very talented actor, you're a very talented singer. But can you really write? Yeah. So how, when people are telling you that you're not good enough, which is crazy to think there was ever a time where people thought that about your voice. Oh, thank you. But if people were telling you about you, that about your voice, you obviously overcame that, and then they're telling you that about your writing, but you overcome that. So how do you leverage, or maybe it's not narrative, or self-narrative, maybe it's something else, but how do you get the courage to do things that people are telling you you can't do? That's such a good question. Yeah, it's so interesting. I've been told I can't do something my entire life. It's almost now it's like a rite of passage for me. When someone tells me I can't do something, I'll be like, okay, there's proof that I can do it. But it was never about my ability, if I recall. It was always about, the world's just not ready for you yet. I was told, the world's not ready for someone like you to start singing. You sound like a girl, no one wants to buy an album from a guy that sounds like a girl. The world's not ready. The world's not ready to see you as an actor. No one's gonna wanna go to a movie theater to see someone like you act, or see someone like you on TV. - People actually say this to his face. - Oh, to my face, oh yeah, I know it's crazy. It's crazy. I mean now in hindsight it's always a gift, but yeah, no, I can't believe these people, I've never felt the need in my entire life to tell someone they couldn't do something. Sometimes I tell them, well, that's gonna be a challenge, and you gotta be ready for this, this, and that. But I've never, ever had the need, the desire to nip someone's dream in the bud. - What's your initial emotional reaction when somebody says that?

\be the ant\"" (19:40)

- That I can't do something? - Yeah. - Oh, I'm kind of numb to it now, because I have to be honest, like one of the reasons why I've accomplished so many things is because I've been very lucky. I've had many opportunities that were just, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. I did have to-- - You haven't believed that. - Yes, I do, but I do also believe that I had to build on that. I had to create the steps that I took. I had to form my own ladder from, I had to use that as a stepping stone. And that I think I can take credit for as using one experience, my Glee experience, using that to go into so many different ventures was because I luckily have always been, the story of the Grasshopper in the Ant, I've always been the Ant. So I'm very proud of myself for creating those opportunities. - Tell people what that means. - I've always been one to work hard, even when a reward or luck comes my way, I've always been one to try to turn that blessing into a blueprint. - That's a really interesting take on you. And as much as I researched you before you coming on, there's nuance in here that I didn't pick up, which I really, I'm super excited by in your story. - So, I'm a little bit nervous. - No, no, no, for people that don't know the details of the Grasshopper in the Ant, it's a great little parable about this Grasshopper who's playing around and like, "Oh, there's plenty of time, it's summer, everything's abundant, it's all good." And he's playing the fiddle or something, if I remember right. And all the ants are preparing, preparing, preparing, and they're like, socking food away and carrying it back and they're just working like dogs through the whole summer. And they keep telling him like, "Hey, it isn't gonna be like this forever, so you better get ready." - Yeah, winter is coming. - Right. And so it becomes like that ultimate parable about make hay while the sun is shining, right? The time where you think it's party times, actually the time to buckle down and do the work. And dude, writing your intro, I was like, "What the fuck?" Like the number of things that you've done is 15 books. It's amazing, it's fucking wonderful, man. And like hearing you, one thing people will not appreciate, unless they actually go watch the videos, you get heckled in the most beautiful way whenever you go to speak.

Being in a seekers position (21:55)

Like the audience, I've never seen audiences that like reactive to almost every word out of your mouth, elicits like this audible reaction from people in the audience. You've obviously touched them with your writing, you've obviously touched them with your music and you're acting, but it's really interesting. So the drive, the being the ant, I think is super, super interesting. So when did you realize you're the ant? When did that crystallize as a value for you? And why do you think that's important if you think it's important for other people? - Well gosh, I think it crystallized for me in the midst of Glee, because I was finally in a position that I had been told my entire life, I was someone like me would never be in this position. And the minute that I had that position, and people found out that I was a gay actor playing a gay character, I had an avalanche of doubt, not my own, but from other people saying, well, I think one of the first critiques that was ever written about me was, he's great on the show, it's a shame that he'll never do anything else again. Just because based on other careers and other actors that had come, and I think that really put a fear in me that they were correct. And I was so honoree at the time, being a gay person, I was like, no, I'm not going to go gently into that night. I'm going to do whatever I can to make sure that I always have a place at the table. And so yeah, I guess a lot of my drive used to come from proving people wrong, and now I think it does come from wanting just to make the world an easier place for someone like me. I think that is what I'm driven by now. - At least that. - At least it was the second part of your question. - Well, even more interesting, you just said something that I really want you to invite people into understand, 'cause I think it's incredibly powerful.

Acting on the motivation to prove people wrong (23:52)

I get that you don't do it anymore, maybe not as much. Take us back to your young, you're being, how did by people intentionally or otherwise, but they're telling you you're not going to be able to do it. At one point, I know you're getting death threats. So how do you use the chip on your shoulder to prove people wrong, which I'll call sort of a dark energy? How do you use that to create something so incredible? - I had had a bucket list from the time that I was five, and that I think that truly is the greatest blessing I think I've ever received in my life is just having a list of things I wanted to do to keep me motivated, and I don't know where it came from. I don't know how I developed it so young, but from my earliest memory, I knew that I wanted to act, and I knew that I wanted to write. It made life a lot easier, I guess, because I knew what I wanted to do, and I was very lucky because I had a grandmother who just believed in me to a fault. Like she would tell me, you're here to do this, it's gonna happen, it's gonna happen. And even when I would-- - Was she talking about the writing or the act? - Both, both. She really made me think that anything that I wanted to accomplish could happen. And I've said this before, but I think that is the greatest gift you can give a child, even if you don't think that it is possible. And many years later, my grandmother told me, I told me, I can't believe you got it all done. Like I was encouraging, but I never thought you would actually get it all done, but you did. And I'm like, well, thanks, I think it was the delusion that you installed in me, that made it all work for me. - You've said that your grandmother was your first and toughest editor.

Were you happy when you were torn down in the past? (25:35)

- She was, yeah. - Which I think is amazing. Do you think that, like, I'll ask a two-part question. Part number one, are you actually glad when she didn't think your story was good enough that she would crumple it up, throw it away, and so you can do better? Are you actually glad that happened? 'Cause that had to be kind of horror. - Oh, it was traumatic, yeah. - So that's part one. And then part two of the question, would you do the same if you had kids? - Oh my God, oh, well, I think the first part is, yes. I now am glad that my grandmother did that. - Because it actually made you better? - I think it did, yeah, I think it did. And I think it also, oh, it's so weird. And I've never put this, I've never put this two and two together, but I think that experience actually made me seek people who were, seek honesty in my career, rather than just someone who's gonna tell me everything that I wanna hear. Because I know the honesty is what gets you from A to B. The coddling doesn't. So yeah, I think I am glad that she did that, as traumatic as it was in the time. And I would say no, I don't think I could ever do that to a kid, and that's one of the reasons why I, honestly, don't wanna have kids, 'cause I don't think I could, I would be such a coddler, I would coddle them to death, they would be useless to the world. So yeah, so yes and no to this question. - That is exactly how I feel about having kids.

Resilience, Success, And Personal Growth

Going through hardship is empowering for some and devastating for others (27:10)

Like I know it's the right answer. Even in my own life, it's been the things that were super hard that actually, like, I have been in, there have been times in my business career where I've been involved with people that I would just call straight abusive. - Yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah. - And so it's like, okay, this is actually making me better. It's horrible, and I do not like it. But the gyrations that makes me go through mentally toughening up, getting more strategic, having to sharpen my skillset, all of those things have made me better. But yet now, as an employer, or if I were to have kids, I wouldn't do that to somebody else. Even though I know that for some subset of the people, it is the right answer. Like I don't think you get somebody great that doesn't go through the hardship. But my problem is hardship destroys so many of the people that it touches. - It does, yeah. - I'm always so interested in me, people like you, that on the other side of it, they're so empowered. - Yeah, yeah, some people, one critique will just kill their creativity, will kill it for forever. And another reason why I'm glad my grandmother was harsh with me when I was younger, because I think I can deal with criticism a little bit better, because I had it when I was very young. But no, I'm the same way with business, it's interesting, because you can always hire a bad cop. You can be the good cop and you guys have, you can always work with a bad cop, who's gonna do that for people. But when it comes to families, I feel like it says a whole different thing. You need both parents to be everything all at once. And I would be the exact kind of parent, I would not give my kids any freedom, I put trackers on them, I would just, I would be the worst. I'd make Joan Crawford look like Carol Brady. I would be terrible. - That's amazing. That's at least you're very self-aware, so that's good. I wanna go back to drive and ambition.

How do you stay ambitious when you've had a lot of success young? (29:00)

So you've accomplished a lot, and obviously it'd be very easy for somebody that has your kind of resume this young to just sort of tap out and coast on that for a while, and then end up behind the eight ball, because they don't have any career momentum. How do you stay hungry? - Oh God, it is tough. It is because sometimes it's, you know, especially in the entertainment industry, the entertainment industry has a way of building it up and knocking it down and building it back up. It's such a rollercoaster of emotions. And it's a business that is based on creativity and opinion. So naturally, it's a tough environment to be in. I know because I do go through this period is where I think I'm done. I, this fight is too hard. A few years ago, we started shopping around the land stories, adaptation to studios, and I was very, very adamant that I wanted to direct this. I had written, I had screen written in the past and worked with some great directors, and I had screen written in the past and worked with directors that I felt did not capture what I was going for at all. And that is such a miserable place to be in, to see something you've created, you know, being driven in a wrong direction. It's like watching someone else parent your children. I can imagine, I can only imagine. And so I was very adamant that no, this is gonna come to life. I wanna be the person to bring it to life, and I want to validate all those images that the readers and I have created together. And there's a period when we went to so many different studios, because it had done well, every studio wanted it. They just didn't want to give me the creativity and the control over it, 'cause I hadn't done it before. And at a certain point, I was right when I had come to terms with, okay, you know, this is not going to turn into a movie. I could not live with this being a bad movie. And I unfortunately just, I don't trust someone else to make it a good movie. So I'm just gonna come to terms with this not being a movie. And of course, that's when the phone rang, literally the next day. And 20th Century Fox gave me that opportunity. So there are moments like that where I do, I have many moments where I just wanna give up. But I think you have to go through those moments. I think you have to go through those moments where you want to give up. I think that's part of the process. - Tell me more, why? - I would love to tell you more, but I'm not sure I know. I said that, I think that was right, what I said. I know, I think that, especially when you're in a creative position, I think the depths are just as important as the highs. I think that it just broadens your spectrum as a creator. And, you know, I think it's those moments of despair. I think that really made me a better writer because now I can write characters that are in despair. And people who are reading it, who are actually in despair relate to it. And it helps them. So yeah, I think it's life, eh? - Yeah, I have a theory about what it is that makes that worthwhile.

The power of anti-fragility. (32:10)

So the human mind is, so Naseem Taleb has this idea of becoming anti-fragile. And the best example of a system that's anti-fragile is the immune system. So something that is weak, obviously breaks easily, something that is tough or resilient. It can take a real beating and it will last a long time before it breaks, but it's ultimately still defined by its breaking point. Something that's anti-fragile actually gets stronger the more that it's assailed. So the human immune system is that, right? So when you're born, it's like everything makes you sick and blah, blah, blah. But every time you get sick, your immune system learns about that invader. And so the next time it can thwart that invader, and that's how you get sick a lot less as you get older. So that's an example of a system that by attacking it, you're actually making it more powerful. So I think the human psyche, when done in sort of careful conditions is the same. Now you can break it, just like you can get so sick you die. But if you are hit with these like stressors, and there's a whole name for it with the Hormissis. So you get this Hormetic response, right? Something is bad, but not so bad that it kills you. So it actually makes you better, right? So if it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger, but this like really on a biological level. So when you're going through this despair, the bad news is that maybe something like eight out of the 10 writers that encounter that, it kills them forever and they never go back to it. But the two like you that make it and they push through, they become a better writer, they're more relatable, but they're also more resilient and they will have learned a trick, a path. So one thing I think that's so critically important is when you hit a hardship and you overcome it, what you just learned, your nervous system learns at a deep limbic level, is that there was a path here, even though I couldn't see it in the beginning. And so the next time you hit an obstacle, like the next time you wanna do a project and they're like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, you're like, yeah, yeah, I've been through this routine before. And if I really believe it and I stay true to it, eventually like people are gonna break. And I think that is, it's a dangerous game and it really is something that I often liken it to the inner cities. The inner cities destroy most of the people that they touch, but the occasional Jay-Z comes out and they're just unstoppable. - It's unfortunate for some people, but you want to apply that phrase, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger to the mental side of things too, but sometimes what doesn't kill you makes you suicidal.

Differences in people's responses to stress. (34:29)

And it's really up to you to, well, am I gonna let this kill me or am I gonna let this motivate me? And sometimes when I hear people say this, I want to throw things at them. So I'm gonna say it, I'm gonna say it very tongue-in-cheek, but sometimes it really is, it's a choice. It's not a choice, I don't know, sometimes I don't think you're, sometimes I don't think your point of view or your interpretation of something you're going through can be a choice. Sometimes things are just so tragic that you just have to feel whatever you're feeling so it can work itself out. - Talk to me about your going into YA novels. So I know that you go there 'cause you've said that that's so impactful for you growing up and it's the space that you love to be in. Is there anything that your, any kind of relationship you're trying to forge with your reader? Is there anything that you want them to get out of it? Is it pure escapism? Like how do you approach it as a writer? - It really is just escapism for me. That was what I enjoyed reading the most when I was a kid. And it's kind of like where I'm, how I'm wired. I'm kind of wired to live part time in reality, part time in a fantasy world. And I think when I was a kid, like the things I said earlier, the fantasy really impact me more than any other genre that I had read. And I think stimulating imagination is one of the greatest things, one of our best lines of defense that we can give to the next generation coming. Because I think that's where, if you inspire people to be more compassionate and more curious, then I think the world is on the right track.

The impact of fantasy novels on children. (36:16)

- How do you do that? How do you inspire that curiosity? - Oh gosh, I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. I try to write the kind of books that I would like to read as a young person. I always joke that I just write my reading level and it works out. I don't know. I think about the books that I read as a kid, and not just the Harry Potter series, but every book by Bruce Coville and every book by Ava Abatson and just like that prelude to a book. That's where I think my soul lives. My favorite part about writing the book is right before I actually sit down and start writing and I'm just daydreaming about it. And I'm curious about, where is this world gonna take me? Who am I gonna meet? What am I gonna learn? Kind of fun am I gonna have? What's the end result gonna be? And I think every kid, every time they pick up a book and they read the first chapter, that's kind of where they're at. And I think if more people lived there, I think the world would be a much better place. Like I said, I think imagination is the greatest tool in the whole world. - What is it about imagination? Are you using that in a Einstein way of imagining a path forward or is it just the relief from your day-to-day life or are you gonna escape into a fantasy land? What do you mean by imagination? - I think the thing from imagination is is what you can create nothing and make something from nothing. Is what, nothing plus imagination equals something. And that's also the same definition of magic that I use in my book. So I think imagination is the most magical thing we have in the real world. - There's a notion in your books of portals, of being sucked into the story world. That made me feel like I might be getting an insight into you as a person. What is it about the notion of portals that was so enticing that you base so much of your story around that? - Oh, probably 'cause I hate reality so much. God, I mean, I think I just, if I had the choice of visiting Wonderland or Neverland or Hogwarts or Narnia, I wouldn't have heartbeat. There would be no question in my mind. Yeah, funny, it's like a therapy session. Thanks, I don't have to go this week. Thank you, appreciate it. But no, I think it's just escaping it. I think it's going someplace where you can be appreciated. You can be loved and you can have adventures and fun that you just maybe aren't available to you just yet in whatever your situation is. - So as you progress, obviously there are a lot of doors and things open to you. If you could only ever write or sing, but not both. So if you write, you can never sing again. If you sing, you can never write again, which path would you choose? - Oh, right, that's so easy. I can write my pajamas. Singing has always terrified me, strangely enough. - Interesting. - Yeah, I-- - The performance element? - The performance element, absolutely. Yeah, I've always had horrible stage fright. Even when I was a kid and I used to just sing at inquire at my grandma's church or something.

Chris Colfer's fear of singing in public. (39:46)

Yeah, we did this huge glee tour. We did, I think, 70 performances in a two-month span. - Whoa. - And we did, it was insane. And I sang live every single performance 'cause I was trying to get that fear out of my system and it didn't work. It didn't work. I was just as terrified on the last night as I was the first night. - Interesting. - I don't know. I don't think about it very much 'cause I just don't really think of it as a possibility. I don't know why I don't. I've always wanted to maybe do like a, maybe a cover album that has some kind of charity aspect to it where I cover some songs and the money goes to the LGBT Center in LA or the Trevor Project or make a wish or something. I would love to do that. But it's a tough thing to accomplish in the music industry. - So fucking interesting. What was the first time that somebody told you that your voice was just fucking extraordinary? - Extraordinary? - Extraordinary, they cannot fast. - I think this right now. - Are you serious? - Yeah, thanks. - The first time I heard you sing, I was like, what? - Oh, wow. Yeah, thank you. - So, yeah. - I mean, no people have been very kind over the years, simulators and tweets and whatnot. I don't know, this is very deep. We've scratched the surface of something here. Yeah. - That's super interesting. - But so, like I said, I have been told my whole life that I couldn't do other things, like writing and acting and for whatever reason, I always had a deaf ear to do those things. But for whatever reason, I accepted the critiques of the singing. - I am literally beside myself shocked. So there are two gifts that I, it's interesting that I call them gifts, talk about therapy. There are two talents that I have hang ups about because I want them so desperately, do not have them. And as much work as I've done around getting rid of a fixed mindset, these are the two things that I think, if you really want it that bad, like why don't you put in any energy and the truthful answer is because I don't think that I would get good. I would get better, I recognize that, but I don't think I would ever get good in that singing and drawing. And I remember before I met my wife, I said, I can describe who she is and she will either be able to sing or draw. And of course, my wife can draw. - You're a world-class artist, absolutely ridiculous. - She can lead you. - Yeah. - I so love that skill set. So hearing you sing and thinking, okay, wait a second, like A, you're on a show, you win a Golden Globe, you win a bunch of other awards, like, Arden Fan Base, it is so fascinating, a glimpse into the human condition to think that that's an area that you're still like, yeah, I'm not sure if I could do it. - Yeah, yeah, it's when I used to say, I think I'm the only person in the world who doesn't consider myself a singer. Like when I introduce places and people say, oh, well, please welcome Sage Singer, Chris Gopher. I'm always like, what? All right, cool, I'll be out, take it, I'll take it. But yeah, it's so, yeah, it's interesting. I should, yeah. Huh, maybe this interview will change that. Maybe I'll get an offer. - Yeah, dude, I mean, that's super, super intriguing. My wheels are spinning. Where can people find out more about you? - Oh gosh, America's most wanted. - No, no. - Nice. - Let's see, the landofstories.com is a good place. A tale of magic.com is a good place. And yeah, and then I guess just hit me up on social media. Yeah, and interviews like this. - Nice, perfect. Before I ask my last question, I actually wanna sneak in a little bonus here. What is the trait that you have that's made you so successful?

Key To Chris Colfer'S Success

The one trait that enabled Chris's success. (43:34)

- You know, the first word that came to mind was delusion. - I'll take it. - I think, yeah, I think it's delusion. I think, like I said earlier, I think I owe that to my grandmother. She truly made me believe that every single one of my goals, every single one of my goals was possible. And I believed her and because she gave that to me as a kid, I think I, that's really what, that was the secret ingredient to my success. - I'm good with that. - Yeah. - All right, what's the impact that you wanna have on the world? - Oh my gosh.

Chris Colfer'S Aspiration For Impact

The impact Chris wants to have on the world. (44:09)

I think I just want, I want to make the real world reality just a little bit more bearable for people. And I wanna bring a little magic to people's lives. - That's a great answer. - Yeah. - Guys, there are a few people that I think have the breadth of creativity that he has. He's really doing extraordinary things. So if you only know him from TV or you only know the books to really look at his life across all the things that he's doing, and hopefully we will very shortly see the results of him as a producer and director and screenwriter of his own translated work that would be pretty extraordinary. So I highly encourage you to give him a follow, check out his book series. It's all very, very impressive. If you haven't already, be sure to subscribe and until next time my friends, be legendary. Take care. Chris, that was amazing, dude. - Thank you so much. - Thank you. - Thank you, man. - Scott, but what is it within my power? - Rather, it's getting the proper sleep. Rather, it's learning your lines. Rather, it's researching the character. Rather, it's watching movies for reference. Rather, it's picking up a subject matter or a person to study or working out or eating healthy. for. You

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