The untold truth of Todrick Hall

Todrick Hall is a highly versatile entertainer. MTV refers to him as a "quadruple threat," but even that's a conservative estimate. He's a choreographer, actor, dancer, songwriter, singer, director, and all-around modern-day Renaissance man. And he's succeeded where others have failed, managing to parlay his fleeting American Idol fame into a highly accomplished career. "Idol is [a] very strong beginning, even if you get kicked off the first episode," he told Billboard in 2016, "but people don't think about what they're going to do when they get off the show." Hall effectively creates opportunities out of thin air, which explains why his popular YouTube channel is a constantly updated swirl of sharply-edited clips featuring frenetic dancing, comedy, singing, and liberal helpings of ersatz glamour.

"Every time one of my videos goes viral, I don't sit back and relax and wait for someone to start knocking on my door," he tells Billboard. Instead, he orchestrates his next move. In recent years, Hall's prolific output has earned him accolades from the likes of Beyoncé and Taylor Swift, both of whom he counts as friends. Between the viral vids, his ongoing stint on RuPaul's Drag Race, and well-received performances in Kinky Boots and Chicago on Broadway, Hall has become entirely ubiquitous in a very short time. Still, there's a whole lot we don't know about him. This is the untold truth of Todrick Hall. 

​He was branded a 'sell-out' for teaming up with Tay

Everything's controversial nowadays. Somewhere among all the CGI snakes, squawking ravens, and bathtubs teeming with gleaming diamonds, you may have spotted Todrick Hall shaking his thing in Taylor Swift's 2017 video for "Look What You Made Me Do." He's clearly having a ball playing the role of sycophantic subordinate to the pop star, and the whole thing is just some harmless fun, right? Well, evidently not for everyone. 

Hall was antagonized on social media for the cameo and stood accused of disrespecting the black community and the LGBT community — simply for collaborating with Swift. Adding fuel to the fire, several Beyoncé fans reportedly thought the video was a flagrant rip-off of Beyoncé's "Formation" video and held Hall accountable for that, too.

In an interview with Yahoo in September 2017, Hall defended himself against accusations that he'd "sold out," whatever that even means in this day and age. "I didn't do this Taylor Swift video for money," he said. "I did it because she's my friend, and she was very excited about it." Hall also revealed how harsh some of that online criticism was: "I have gotten comments from people who are upset and have literally said the fact that I am friends with a white person is a problem."

And this is exactly why you should never read the comments, join a social media channel, use the internet, or own a computer.

He defended Swift's silence on Trump

How much sleep have you lost wondering where your favorite pop stars stand on the issues? Apparently, there's a whole lot of people out there waiting for Taylor Swift to sidle up to a podium and categorically spout her views on President Donald Trump: Is she yay, nay, or simply Tay-Tay? 

As Politico reported in December 2017, a small militia of self-appointed social media mavericks want the "studiously apolitical" singer to break her silence on The Donald. A Guardian editorial from 2017 dramatically proclaimed that Swift's "silence is striking."

In a 2017 interview with Yahoo, Todrick Hall suggested that some folks have taken Swift's silence as proof-positive that she's a fan of Trump. "They're making this huge assumption," he said, "when Taylor has never to my knowledge come out and said anything about her being pro-Trump." Hall emphasized that he isn't Taylor Swift and has no idea what's going on in her mind, but he happily noted: "She has been nothing but a great person to me."

​The controversy over Oz, The Musical

Todrick Hall put himself on the map by competing on American Idol in 2010. Unfortunately, that new-found fame led to a virtual mob of angry parents accusing him of sketchy business practices in the past. 

According to The Associated Press (via the New York Daily News), the uproar involved a doomed production of Oz, The Musical, described as "a contemporary twist on the classic story, with all new music," which was written and directed by Hall. Though he'd successfully mounted the musical several times, a 2009 production turned out to be a "financial disaster," and the show sputtered out before the cast and crew could embark on a projected national tour. Parents who'd helped fund the show accused Hall of not refunding their money. 

One disgruntled father gave his two cents to Inside Edition: "You've got a bunch of 6, 7, 8-year-olds that had their heart set on a play and they were basically scammed and lied to." 

Hall told Inside Edition that he wanted to give a face-to-face interview to clear the air, but his American Idol contract forbade him from doing so. As of now, it's unclear how this particular saga ended.

​He's a teetotaler

Should you ever happen to see Todrick Hall at the club dancing on speakers and making a general spectacle of himself, don't blame the demon liquor for his excesses. He claims to be stone-cold sober. Todrick Hall doesn't drink, never touched a cigarette, and certainly isn't interested in drugs. "I'm already turned up as it is," he explains. "When I went to school and they showed me, like, the guy smoking, and his lungs turned black, and they said, 'Don't do it,' I was like, 'Gotcha.'" 

But don't confuse Hall for a health nut, because… he's not that. "I only eat basically things that you can get in a theme park," he confesses. Think cheeseburgers, quesadillas, corn dogs,  and, like, the most delicious pizzas ever. (But not macaroni and cheese.) Oh, and in case you're preparing some sort of care package for him, please note that he's an extremely finicky eater and only likes to consume "vanilla things." He admits that he loves chocolate-chip cookies, but meticulously plucks out each chocolate chip to enjoy all the crunchy goodness that surrounds them. 

So now you know.

​How he became known as 'The Beyoncé Guy'

Looking to get Beyoncé's attention? Well, you'll have to to create a fabulous YouTube channel dedicated to all your friskiest dance moves. As Fuse reported in June 2015, Todrick Hall effectively showed the world how to properly use the internet by cobbling together a meticulously crafted Beyoncé mashup. Splicing together a total of 70 songs featuring Hall's everything-defying choreography, supreme vocal stylings, and plenty of split-screen canoodling, the clip added up to five Beyoncé albums in four minutes. These are the sorts of ambitious projects that eventually land on the desk of a certain Bey.

Speaking to The Ryan Seacrest Foundation in 2015, Hall opened up about how he came to be known as The Beyoncé Guy. "Beyoncé found me online," he explains, claiming that she checked out his YouTube clips and simply "fell in love with them." She clearly was fond of the 2011 Target flash mob video that incorporated her music because she personally thanked Hall for that performance in a YouTube clip of her own. Hall subsequently helped choreograph her 2013 video for "Blow."

Sounds like a fruitful collaboration. Hall says watching Beyoncé in action makes him aspire to "be a better entertainer, be a better producer, and be a better director."

​He's utterly obsessed with The Wizard of Oz

"What makes a king out of a slave?" You'll find this riddle tattooed on Todrick Hall's arm, and you'll find the answer to it by cozying up to the collected works of L. Frank Baum. In case the names of projects like Straight Outta Oz and Oz, The Musical hadn't tipped you off, Hall is utterly and completely obsessed with The Wizard of Oz. In fact, it's his "Number One movie of all time, without a doubt." Hall also goes bananas for The Wiz and the hilariously morbid '80s curiosity Return to Oz. Basically, count him in for absolutely "anything that has to do with The Wizard of Oz."

As for his tattoos, Hall designed them in collaboration with someone named "Kevin" from L.A. Ink. His left arm is a visual paean to the Emerald City and its surrounding environs: There's a hot air balloon, the ruby slippers, the heart medallion, the Tin Man, and the Lion. The back of his neck bears "a Scarecrow patch" that boasts: "Made in Oz."

"I just always identified with Dorothy, being a misfit kid growing up Texas," he told Billboard in 2016. "I always knew that there was something bigger and better for me outside of the little black-and-white world that I lived in." 

(P.S. The answer to the riddle is "Courage," m'kay?)

​ He's happy to strike back at Twitter critics

Todrick Hall has a tough-as-nails approach when it comes to teaching choreography to contestants on RuPaul's Drag Race. His methods aren't necessarily everyone's cup of tea, as illustrated by a raft of tweets directed at the performer in 2018. After guiding drag queens Aquaria, Eureka O'Hara, Kameron Michaels, and Asia O'Hara through a succession of tricky maneuvers, some judgmental Twitter dissenters accused Hall of being "the least constructive person" on the show, noting that most of his "critiques were negative." Meanwhile, Hall was clearly subjected to a lot of less than constructive criticism when Twitter minions called him "annoying" and "trash."

Hall has no problem striking back at his critics. "Get up and do something with your life instead of sitting behind your phone talking about people who do," he tweeted. He also assured everybody that if he seems to be hard on contestants, it's for their own good — and their own safety: "My goal is to make it so hard for Ru to eliminate them that he keeps them all, and I do … so you're welcome." 

Lastly, if anyone questions his qualifications for being on the show, Hall is more than happy to spell them out: "5 Broadway shows, choreography for artists like Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift and I dunno Beyonce." Fair enough.

​He's related to Dreamgirls' Jennifer Holliday

Unless you're a dedicated Todrick Hall superfan/stalker, you probably don't know that he's related to Jennifer Holliday. He revealed this info in one of his many YouTube clips, emphasizing that Holliday is not to be confused with Jennifer Hudson: "They both have the JH initial thing going on, and they both played the role of Effie White in Dreamgirls." But whereas Hudson won the Oscar for Effie, Hall's "distant cousin" Jennifer Holliday scooped up a Tony Award for the same role when she was just 21 years old. As for Holliday's performance of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," Hall says: "She sang the mess out of that song. She never has to sing anything else again." 

Clearly, the business of show runs in Hall's blood. When he was 21 years old, he landed a role in his very first Broadway show: The Color Purple. "It was the first time that I looked at a group of people that were doing something that I wanted to do: sing and dance on stage," he recalls. He describes his stint in the musical as a "pivotal" moment in his life — particularly since he got to meet the Season 3 winner of American Idol. Hall says working with Barrino inspired him to audition for the reality-show competition.

​Don't call him a drag queen

Though "YouTube sensation" Todrick Hall spent a good chunk of 2016 on the judging panel for RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 2, the tables effectively turned when he swaddled himself in drag and performed for the likes of Carson Kressley, RuPaul, Michelle Visage, and, weirdly enough, Todrick Hall (thanks to some pretty rudimentary editing tricks.) As Attitude reported, the clip is ultimately a fun promotional ploy to get word out that Hall is starring as Lola in Broadway's Kinky Boots.

Despite the occasional dalliance into the world of fright wigs and frivolity, it sounds like Hall would prefer that you didn't refer to him as a drag queen. That's not because he's particularly touchy about the subject. It's because he thinks calling himself a drag queen is a disservice to the entertainers who dedicate their lives to the craft. "I do not consider myself to be a drag queen by any means," he told PhillyVoice in April 2018. "That would be disrespectful to those who spent so many years in the art form." 

That doesn't mean he's incapable of dancing up a storm in high heels: "I'm a dancer, so being in heels is just like walking on my toes," he said. "High heels have never been a struggle." 

​He's terrified of being seen naked

A docuseries called Todrick ran for eight episodes on MTV in 2015, allowing fans to go on an extended tour of Todrick Hall's so-called "creative factory." The short-lived series featured the occasional high-caliber guest star such as Joseph Gordon Levitt and Kelly Rowland, and found Hall spoofing Titanic, retelling the Peter Pan story through the music of Katy Perry, and, in one particularly memorable episode, satirizing "crazy celebrity excess." 

In the show's premiere episode ("Who Let the Freaks Out?") Hall reenacts several over-the-top pop culture touchstones, including the notorious Kim Kardashian Paper photo shoot that made everyone grow tired of the term "breaking the internet." Though his fleshy bits are blurred out, it looks like Hall stripped down for the segment, and it's safe to say he must've been really friggin' nervous.

By his own admission, Hall is "so insecure about being naked." He considers this personality quirk to be his "most insecure thing," so if you're planning to search Google for "Todrick Hall shirtless," in private mode, go ahead and save yourself a couple of keystrokes. "Stop searching that right here, right now," he says, "because this is never going to happen." And that, as they say, is that.