How Jonathan Van Ness Went From Hairstylist to Emmy Nominee

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“In the Envelope: An Awards Podcast” features intimate interviews with award-winning actors and other creatives. Join host and Awards Editor Jack Smart for a front row seat to the industry’s most exciting awards races, and valuable acting and career advice from contenders!

Jonathan Van Ness grew up in rural Illinois with dreams of launching an empire as a hairdresser. As he tells Backstage, his inner child is over the moon about how that dream has manifested; these days he gets to pursue his passion for comedy and entertainment, ice skating and gymnastics, and helping others look (and feel) fabulous.

After leaving the midwest for Los Angeles, Van Ness broke into the online comedy world in 2013 with the Funny or Die web series “Gay of Thrones,” a recap of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” filmed in the hair salon he co-owns, now twice nominated for the Outstanding Short Form Variety Series Emmy. Harnessing his entrepreneurial spirit, he then began producing the interview podcast “Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness” and trying to book hosting and reality gigs. That led to a whirlwind rise to reality TV fame: in 2017 Van Ness was cast as the grooming expert on David Collins’ “Queer Eye,” Netflix’s award-winning reboot of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” Over four buzzy seasons alongside fellow hosts Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Tan France, and Antoni Porowski, Van Ness has transformed the lives of people in Georgia, the midwest, and beyond.

READ: The ‘Queer Eye’ Fab Five Share How to Nail the Audition of a Lifetime

Covering everything from how to adjust career goals and expectations to “carrying yourself like you’re meant to be there” (to the joys of Domino’s Pizza), Van Ness, of course, makes for an inspirational interview. To hear it in full, tune into the “In the Envelope” podcast at any of the links below.

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Jack Smart
Jack Smart is the awards editor at Backstage, where he covers all things Emmy, SAG, Oscar, and Tony Awards. He also produces and hosts Backstage’s awards podcast “In the Envelope” and has interviewed some of the biggest stars of stage and screen.
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