Funnyman Jeffery Self has been making us laugh (hysterically) for over a decade now. Back in 2007, the young actor and writer created comedic skits under the YouTube moniker VGL (Very Good Looking) Gay Boys alongside friend, and fellow viral YouTuber Cole Escola. Their performances were among some of the first clips to ever go viral back when YouTube was still in its infancy. Quickly, Self began booking major gigs in the entertainment industry, including a 2009 Logo Show based off of his funny internet sketches, and stints on "30 Rock," "Desperate Housewives" and "90210."
Self also flexed his incredible comedic writing skills by penning jokes and scripts for some of the biggest television shows on air and most recently his very own novels. His latest work, "Drag Teen," is a hilarious and heartwarming story of a young high school student who desperately tries to escape his modest roots in favor of the big city. By entering an NYC-based drag competition, he hopes to not only win the scholarship he'd need to break free from his mundane life, but also overcome his own self-doubts.
We recently sat down with the author and comedian to talk about his latest novel "Drag Teen." Ahead, find out how Jeffery Self discovered his love for writing, what his creative process is like, and more!
And for even more Jeffery Self news, head over to AOL.com at 12 p.m. ET for more exclusive features, including what he hopes readers will take away from "Drag Teen."
A post shared by Jeffery Self (@jefferyself) on May 3, 2016 at 2:13pm PDT
When did you first discover your love for writing?
I homeschooled myself for high school. I begged my parents to let me do that. I went to a very small school where it was basically the same eighteen people from pre-school until eighth grade. I was very close with them and comfortable, and I felt very accepted, because they knew me my whole life. I knew in middle school that I was gay and that in high school it would become an issue, where it hadn't been before. I have always been the effeminate kid in the class that they knew their whole lives. I was very terrified about going into the real world of high school so I begged my parents not to make me. They finally agreed and my parents aren't educators so they wanted to find a program that would do it for them, because they couldn't possibly do that. They found one out of Ojai California. Doing that I had a lot of time on my hands and I was very bored. I had to motivate myself, so much of that time ended up being spent on creative writing for short stories, plays, and scripts. That kept going until I started to write stand-up and sketches. And now I'm doing books.
A post shared by Jeffery Self (@jefferyself) on Apr 28, 2016 at 8:27pm PDT
Biggest difference writing your newest book compared to the ones you wrote previously?
It's a young adult novel which was different, whereas the first two books I did were more humor based. One was a parody and the other was a humor, coffee-table type book. I always describe it as an Urban Outfitters clearance table book. You know the ones when you're thinking "I have to go to someone's house and bring something, so I'll just grab this! And some socks." But for this, I was huge fan of YA fiction and I love how they opened up the genre to all communities across the board. They're so encompassing in a way that our mainstream culture isn't yet. And I think that speaks to the generation that's actually reading it since there's a need for it. For me, it was about writing a YA novel that wasn't about coming out -- since there's so many of those and there have been for decades. They're great and we need those, but for me I wanted to write something about a teenager who was gay and that's not part of the issue. Part of the issue is liking himself. Whereas the other two books were more coming from me as narrator, this was me getting inside the head of a seventeen year old which I haven't been in like, a year? Haha no, but in a while. That made a very big difference.
A post shared by Jeffery Self (@jefferyself) on Apr 26, 2016 at 1:51pm PDT
You also do a lot of television writing as well. Talk to me about the process behind your television writing versus your novel writing.
I prefer the novel writing because I don't really like being around people. I don't like leaving my house or wearing pants, so it really just checks off all my boxes. All those things that you can't do in a workplace, you can do while writing a novel. I think when you're writing a TV show or a movie, you are writing one part of it. The director, the actor, the production designer are all really big parts of the end product. Whereas when you're writing the novel, you're everything: you're the director, the production designer, and the characters. There's something really cool about that -- maybe it says I'm a control freak -- but it's incredible to be able to create your own world. And with television writing I've done, it's creating jokes or memorable catchy dialogue.
Just woke up and today is the day my first ever young adult novel comes out. It's a cool feeling. The book is called Drag Teen and it's a little real life fairy tale about teenage angst, self loathing, and wigs. I am genuinely proud of this story and I hope that it ends up in the right hands. In a world that continues to discriminate and house mountains of hate, I hope you can take a little solace in this story of belonging. Because you do. I do. We all do. I am so proud of Scholastic and the rest of the young adult publishers sharing queer stories for young people and I am so proud to be a part of that. What I hope teens and others will take away from this, and get ready to roll your eyes, is that being who you are is the only possible way of being at all. Life can suck but if you find your tribe and own your truth it doesn't have to. That's what I learned writing this book and I hope you'll read it. #DragTeen
A post shared by Jeffery Self (@jefferyself) on Apr 26, 2016 at 6:22am PDT
What is the hardest part for you when you have to sit down and write a novel?
I guess the act of sitting down and writing a novel. I'm someone who isn't good about doing things like, "I'm going to write from 9 until noon and then take a lunch break." For me, my process is that I have to do it by rewarding myself with treats. So I'll write a little bit before breakfast and then take a break, then will do it again and lunch and take another break, then I'll have an afternoon cookie and coffee and then I'll have a glass of wine. I have to bribe myself in order to do it. For me, it's just sitting down and doing it in a world of distractions. We are the most distracted generation.
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