Exclusive Interview: Queer Eye Fab 5 Antoni Porowski, Bobby Berk, Jonathan Van Ness, Karamo & Tan France head to New Orleans for season 7

Queer Eye always seems to make its return just when we need the show’s buoyant, joyful spirit, and healing and hopeful messages of love, self-care and self-acceptance the most. With the seventh season of the Emmy Award-winning series now streaming globally on Netflix, The Queer Review’s editor James Kleinmann spoke with The Fab FiveAntoni Porowski, Bobby Berk, Jonathan Van Ness, Karamo, and Tan France—about the increased meaningfulness for the hosts of being part of the series at a time when our community is under legislative attack and the target of hateful rhetoric. They also share their standout breakthrough moments with this season’s heroes in New Orleans.

Queer Eye’s Fab Five – Antoni Porowski, Bobby Berk, JVN , Karamo & Tan France – talk season 7 now streaming on Netflix.  

James Kleinmann, The Queer Review: this season of Queer Eye feels like an urgently needed part of the counterbalance to all the anti-LGBTQ legislation and rhetoric out there that’s affecting people in the country. To what extent has being part of the show taken on a new importance to you given the current climate?

Jonathan Van Ness: “I’ve always been someone who’s been really interested in equality, equity, and having more people have more resources. But having been on Queer Eye for the last five or six years, and lived in Austin, Texas for the last three years, I am so much more aware of the widespread suffering, widespread discrimination, and widespread marginalization of our community. Having been given this platform, I’m really interested and invested in figuring out how to make more queer liberation happen in my community and in our country, and to fight this misinformation and disinformation that is so incredibly negatively impacting our community, and especially our kids. I have a lot more awareness and I’m really grateful to be in this fight shoulder to shoulder with people like these gorgeous folks! We have got to get it together. Honey, we’re just going through it this year, but we’re going to be okay. We’ve been through worse. Well, actually, not really legislatively speaking at the state level. It’s rough out there, but I love my friends.”

Karamo Brown and Jonathan Van Ness in Queer Eye season 7. Courtesy Of Netflix © 2023.

Karamo: “One of the beauties of Queer Eye is that people get to see our lives and see our expertise and understand who we are as individuals. I would implore our audience who loves us to think about the family members or friends they have who might support legislation, or who might not support members of our community, to challenge them to sit down and watch. But not only watch, because then it becomes like, ‘oh, look, they’re having fun’, but also to have a conversation with them once that door is open and to challenge them. Because I think there are individuals that watch our show, who sometimes don’t understand that it is their duty to then go out in the world and still continue this fight. We’ll see it in our comments sometimes, where you’re like, ‘Don’t you watch Queer Eye?! How are you supporting this or supporting that?’ I think it’s an opportunity not only for you to be entertained, but for you to challenge yourself to be better and to make the people around you better as well.”

Jonathan Van Ness: “Mic drop! That was So good.”

Antoni Porowski: “Why I personally feel so lucky is that we get to know these individuals in a very personal way and when you get to know the individual, the nuances of their experiences that we get to learn, that makes it a lot harder to not want to show up.”

Queer Eye season 7 hero Stephanie Williams with host Jonathan Van Ness. Courtesy Of Netflix © 2023.
The Queer Eye Fab Five, Karamo Brown, Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Jonathan Van Ness, and Bobby Berk, with season seven hero Stephanie Williams. Courtesy Of Netflix © 2023.

What was your most memorable breakthrough with one of your heroes this season?

Tan France: “Mine was with Steph. It was the first time on the show that I got to work with somebody who had such a hard time accepting who they were as a queer person and seeing that they had every right to love themselves and should love themselves exactly as they are.”

The Queer Eye Fab Five, Bobby Berk, Antoni Porowski, Jonathan Van Ness, Tan France, and Karamo Brown with Ray Walker aka “Speedy” in season seven of Queer Eye now streaming on Netflix. Courtesy Of Netflix © 2023.

Bobby Berk: “For me, it was Speedy. He was going through a really hard time in his life where he didn’t see a future for himself where he could be independent and take care of himself and live his life exactly the way he wanted to. He was literally stuck in his home all day and had to rely on other people to get him in and out. So to be able to show him that it doesn’t matter the situation you’re in now, you can change it was really meaningful. To show that you can go out and you can still be successful and you can fulfill all your dreams. Your dreams might have changed a little bit now, but you can still be anything you want to be. It was very beautiful to see in his eyes when he realized, ‘wait, I can do anything I want’.”

Queer Eye host Karamo Brown with season 7 here Stephanie Williams. Courtesy Of Netflix © 2023.

Karamo: “Steph was one for me, particularly because I realized in that conversation with her that many gay people don’t realize that they experience internalized homophobia or understand the reason that you don’t think you deserve, and the reason you think you need to hide, is because you’ve taken on these messages that have been told to you your entire life. That you’re not worthy of walking around, you’re not worthy of living and receiving and thriving. That’s internalized homophobia and I think a lot of people in our community experience that. We do it to each other, we start to knock others down because of that internalized homophobia. So to see her break through it with all of our help, I was like, ‘yes, ma’am!’ She had an LGBTQ sibling, so that was also interesting. Even with that, you still feel like you don’t deserve. It was powerful to see one of our own, a member of our community, become so successful in such a short amount of time.”

Jonathan Van Ness and Stephanie Williams in episode two of Queer Eye season seven. Cr. Courtesy Of Netflix © 2023.
Jonathan Van Ness and Queer Eye season seven hero Jenni Seckel. Courtesy Of Netflix © 2023.
Jonathan Van Ness with Maryam Henderson-Uloho in season seven of Queer Eye. Courtesy Of Netflix © 2023.

Jonathan Van Ness: “I thought Steph’s episode was so special. Mine was a tie between Jenni and Mary, though I loved everyone on our season. In Mary’s episode, she seems like she’s not afraid of her haircut and she’s really ready, but that was actually a huge decision for her and it was one that she really led. That was her deciding to make an about-face and change. Then with Jenni, you also don’t see it so much in her episode, but I suggested that she go red and she had such a visceral reaction of, ‘no, I’m not doing that, I’m really scared!’ Then when we got to the salon, she was like, ‘you know, I thought about it and I’m going do it!’ Some people might think, ‘oh, just changing your haircut is not that big of a deal’, but for her and her life and her story, making a decision like that and taking the leap was a big deal for her. I felt like it really built her confidence. I loved getting to work with both of them.”

Queer Eye hero Stephanie Williams and host Antoni Porowski in Queer Eye season seven. Courtesy Of Netflix © 2023.
Antoni Porowski with Wesley Hamilton, Ray Walker, Karamo Brown in episode 703 of Queer Eye. Cr. Courtesy Of Netflix © 2023

Antoni Porowski: “What Jonathan just touched on is the willingness and the openness to change. With Steph, I saw that more than with almost any other hero. This was somebody who wanted to change so much, but didn’t have the tools or the resources or the knowledge. She came in so excited. I get emotional just thinking about it. We have all these meetings with producers when we’re trying to figure out what our segment is going to look like and with Speedy he was telling them that one of his favorite recipes that his mother made was beans and rice. So I was mentally preparing as a white man to teach this young Black man how to make beans and rice and I was really nervous about it. Then he was in our loft and we were talking in the kitchen and I tried asking him all these open-ended questions leading into tell me about these beans and rice. Then lo and behold, he finally said, ‘I love hibachi, I used to love going there with my mom and I want to learn how to make chicken and steak fried rice, can you teach me how to do that?’ I almost broke down in tears. I was so excited that he came out of the blue with this thing that he wanted to make and was so open and willing to do it. It’s a reminder to always ask those open-ended questions and to not make assumptions about what somebody should or shouldn’t want to learn how to make.”

By James Kleinmann

Season seven of Queer Eye is now streaming globally on Netflix.

Queer Eye’s Fab Five – Antoni Porowski, Bobby Berk, JVN , Karamo & Tan France – talk season 7
Queer Eye: Season 7 | Official Trailer | Netflix
Queer Eye: Season 7 is now streaming globally on Netflix.

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