How 'Queer Eye' star Tan France became friends with Pete Davidson and Gigi Hadid

Raechal Shewfelt
Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
Tan France dresses to impress. (Photo: Greg Doherty/Getty Images)

If you’re looking for Queer Eye fashion guru Tan France, social media is a good bet.

France, 35, is on it “all day, every day,” he tells Yahoo Entertainment.

It’s how he met a couple of the celebrities that he’s been palling around with lately, including model Gigi Hadid and Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson, whom he took shopping in a video shared on the show’s YouTube channel in March.

“He liked what I did on the show, and he wanted to be friends,” says France, who quickly became famous after the Queer Eye reboot debuted in February. “Weirdly, that’s how people in this little world make friends, apparently. They just slide into your DMs and you just hang out, which is real nice. Who knew it happened that way? I always wondered how these people got together and that’s it — Instagram. I always assumed it was arranged by some people and teams.”

While it’s been reported that France will be working with Davidson ahead of the actor’s upcoming wedding with his fiancée, Ariana Grande, France says those reports are false. But he said he will help if asked.

“Of course, I love him very much. He’s a very, very good friend, and any friend who needed my help, I would absolutely help,” he says.

The reality star also uses social media to connect with his co-stars on the delightful Netflix show. He’s not someone who enjoys talking on the phone or texting.

“Almost every one of them DMs at least once a week,” France says of the Queer Eye crew. “Everyone that we’ve ever worked with.”

Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk, Antoni Porowski, Tan France, and Jonathan Van Ness promote Queer Eye on May 31, 2018. (Photo: Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)

It’s also how he connects with fans. France estimates that he gets 1,000 direct messages a day and, with the help of his assistant, responds to about 10.

“Here’s the thing: I think the reason why these people reach out is because I don’t play a role on the show. I’m not an actor; I’m just Tan,” France says. “And so I think it’s so easy to find a friend in one of the five of us when you feel like you know them completely. And I think that’s why the audience connects so strongly, when they see us out on the street, they feel like they know us very well. They feel like they’re our real friends.”

It’s tough to believe after watching the show, but France, a Utah-based designer, didn’t like being on camera before he was on the Emmy-nominated Queer Eye. Initially, it was his husband of eight years, Rob France, who convinced him that he could do it. Hours in front of the camera have changed France’s opinion for good, he says, and now he looks back and laughs.

“The world has my husband to blame. He’s the one who encouraged me,” France explains. “I really thought that I wasn’t going to be right for this little world, and he encouraged me to do it. He thought that I would be great for the job. Actually, something that is coming up in a book I’m writing. I was going to quit the job, literally a few days into the filming. I just was so nervous on camera, I thought, ‘I’m never gonna feel comfortable,’ but, yeah, he encouraged me, encouraged me, and reminded me of why I wanted to do this.”

That reason, as Queer Eye fans know, goes much deeper than clothes.

“I’m encouraging them to be the best version of themselves, to make sure they are achieving what they want to achieve in life, and making sure they’re dressed appropriately for it,” France says of his role on the reality show. “I think generally people see clothing as shallow and unimportant, and I’m trying to highlight the importance of making an effort to dress appropriate for every situation to achieve what you want to in life.”

Tan France has teamed with Men’s Wearhouse for its annual drive to collect suits for charity. (Photo: Men’s Warehouse)

This month, France is also promoting the Men’s Wearhouse Suit Drive, which provides professional clothing for unemployed men and women as they look for jobs. He’s encouraging people to donate gently used shirts, ties, jackets, belts, shoes, and, yes, suits at their local store now through July 31. Donations will be rewarded with a coupon and also a warm and fuzzy feeling similar to the one you feel after binging on Queer Eye.

Netflix announced Thursday that the show has been renewed for a third season. Production begins Monday in Kansas City, Mo., with new episodes set to debut in 2019.

Feel free to DM France with comments.


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