By Karis Fuller
Arts & Entertainment Editor
For Michael Henry, who graduated with a BFA in acting, the success that followed his move to the west coast has been monumental. Henry started his YouTube channel, “Michael Henry” in April 2014 and has since accumulated 70,000 followers, with average viewership in the millions per video. Henry’s skits, improvisations and comedic outlook on what life throws at people quickly gained him a large following.
Henry moved to Los Angeles in an attempt to challenge himself and experience the world of acting and performance outside of the college stage. In the Post Theater Company, the acting was “very avant garde, experimental and artistic,” he said, but his “natural instincts lead more to comedy.” In Los Angeles, he spent most of his time “going to improv classes, doing some stand up, and doing sketch comedy. And now I do my own YouTube channel.”
His channel’s success over the past five years has snowballed. As an advocate for the LGBTQ community, Henry proudly uses the global platform of YouTube to reach parts of the world where people are alone, struggling and may not get any form of representation.
“I get messages from people from Syria, China, Taiwan, Russia, [and] India. They don’t get to be themselves where they are,” he said. “A lot of these people don’t even have YouTube; they’re watching it on the dark corners of the web.”
Henry believes that by continuing his channel and social media presence, he is aiding American society in accepting people. “We have a lot of things to work on in America when it comes to minority issues, but it’s really bad in a number of other places,” Henry said. He now knows that by being authentic to himself he is helping people, and that has been a humbling experience. “I get to tell stories of myself with myself and my friends that are a lot like most of the globe; I didn’t realize [it] was as impactful as it is,” he said.
Henry recently starred in “Pig Hag,” a feature length film that will premiere at the SXSW film festival in Austin this March. “It [the movie] shows you someone authentically trying to make their life work, and I think we can all relate to that, especially people that don’t feel like they fit in,” Henry said.
The film follows Jodie (Anna Schlegel), a woman in her 30s dealing with the pressures of trying to find love. She thinks she finds it at a concert but is ghosted the next morning– the definition of unlucky in love. The journey she embarks on with her four gay best friends (one played by Henry) following the concert prove the importance of friendship.
“We’re her [Jodie’s] confidants; we are I guess her substitute for a ‘man’ romantically in her life,” Henry said. “She sees that having your strong friendship bonds are almost as important as having your male romantic bonds.”
Henry has big plans for the future. “The next five years I plan on being the next Lisa Ray, the next Lena Dunham work-wise, people who have created their own stuff online and then been able to showcase it on a massive scale,” he said. Henry hopes to transition to television; his ultimate goal is to have his own television show whether it be digital, via cable or a broadcast. Henry said. “That’s what we all need; we don’t have any gay shows on television right now that actually tell their [the LGBTQ community] stories.”
Reflecting on his time at Post and the things he has overcome since then, Henry said college is the perfect foundation for what he built on his own. “When it comes to creating things, just do it. You’re going to second guess yourself, you’re going to fail, but embrace failing,” he said.