Whether on his hit show Queer Eye, on Instagram, or in front a room full of recent college graduates, Karamo Brown is the go-to guy for the inspiration, encouragement, and motivation you need to overcome just about any obstacle. That’s probably why Chaffey College invited him to be their commencement speaker last week. And that’s why NewNowNext jumped at the chance to catch up with the star.
We attempted to play a game of “21 Questions” but we got off track too many times. So here’s, like, 16.
1. What was your most recent purchase?
2. What is your favorite restaurant in New York City?
Village Den. Antoni would kill me if I said anything else! Plus, the food is really good.
3. What is your favorite restaurant in L.A.?
4. What was the best movie you saw this year?
I can’t think of the best, but Night School was terrible. I love Tiffany Haddish and Kevin Hart, but that was so bad.
5. What was the last thing you read?
I Am Perfectly Designed, my children’s book.
6. Name a TV show you wouldn’t mind seeing rebooted?
MASH. My favorite on television ever.
7. What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to stop femme shaming. Luckily, I stopped that in my 20s. I’d tell my younger self to set boundaries. I felt like I had to be open to be liked. And I’d also tell my younger self not to compare myself to other people. Comparison is the thief of joy.
8. What’s one piece of advice you gave the Chaffey College grads?
That small gestures make a big difference.
9. Father’s Day is coming up. What advice would you give fathers?
Listen to the slogan for Extra Gum: “Give extra. Get extra.” Give extra to yourself. Give extra to your kids. You get a lot of extra love in return.
10. Which celebrity would you like to bring on Queer Eye?
For a makeover, I’d bring Homer Simpson on. He is a mess. He’s been wearing the same outfit for years. And those small little hairs have got to go. Even Marge switches it up.
11. Who is the last person you called on the phone?
I talk to my fiancé 14 times a day.
12. Your relationship is goals for a lot of gay men. Do you have any dating advice?
Definitely! Don’t go to your friends for advice. When you invite others into your stuff, you’re giving them permission to weigh in. Don’t get too comfortable too quickly. Keep yourself looking nice for your partner and keep putting the effort in. And if you’re having an argument, only bring up one issue. Don’t fight about five things at once. If you’re walking to a healthy place in your relationship, take one step at a time.
13. I imagine you get a lot of messages about having a white partner. What are your thoughts on the matter?
I’m proud to be a black man. Just because I’m dating someone who isn’t black doesn’t make me any less proud of myself or my culture, and it doesn’t take away from my experience as a black man. The LGBTQ community still struggles with racism, homophobia, and sexism. We forget not that long ago, many clubs didn’t welcome trans people. We see the divides on the apps, in the clubs, and so forth. We’re a community that’s been hurt, but we need to stop hurting even more and start celebrating our diversity.
14. What’s one thing you’ll never do again?
Lie to my sons. I thought I was protecting them, but they made the same mistake. Trust that your honesty will give your kids the tools they need to have their best life.
15. Who was your first celebrity crush?
Well, my first male celebrity crush was Shemar Moore. And my woman crush was Tyra Banks.
16. What’s one of your grooming secrets?
Tailoring. It’s not that expensive. Also, don’t be afraid of color.
Below, watch Brown’s full inspiring Chaffey College commencement speech, made possible by Extra Refreshers Gum. In addition to bringing Karamo to campus, the company also donated $50,000 to the college to support ongoing efforts by the students and school.