INTERVIEW | Popdust talks to... Tyler Mount

THEATRE | The internet's own Tyler Mount talks about being the face of Playbill, and what the future holds for Broadway

Tyler Mount is arguably Broadway's biggest influencer.

His video blog is the pride of Playbill, and has featured many of Broadway's great and good. Gloria Estefan, Todrick Hall, Perez Hilton, and Anthony Rapp are just a sampling of the talent he has interviewed and played truth-or-dare with on his couch. Beyond that, in the last year he has branched out in to producing and landed his first Broadway show; the critically lauded, audience favorite Once on this Island. With that credit under his belt, he is set to become one of the youngest Tony-Award nominated producers in history. With him and his cohorts turning Broadway on its head, Popdust sat down to ask just how he got where he is, how it feels to be there, and what he sees for himself in the future.

So, let me start by saying, your on screen persona is great fun.

Thank you, I try.

The first thing I'm curious about is, how did you ending up doing all this? Being the face of Playbill and a producer on Broadway, what path lead you here?

I grew up knowing I wanted to be an actor on Broadway. I was from small town in Texas, and I knew that wasn't the life for me. I eventually made the move to New York and was gung-ho to be an actor, and did the whole audition circuit. I got a lot of callbacks, but never booked a job. Half of that was really disappointing, and part of it was actually helpful. I realized I hated going to auditions. I had also worked as a stage manager in Austin, so I said "Why don't I do that?". I stage managed a few shows, and the last one I did was On Your Feet with Gloria Estefan. On that I randomly got the idea, with some friends, to start a little blog/web series. We had no script, we knew absolutely nothing about video production, but fate intervened, and the rest is history. I was doing On Your Feet, I filmed an episode with my friend and then Gloria asked if she could come to do the show. She came over to my house with her crew, we filmed for about an hour and a half playing truth or dare, and I've now been producing an episode a week (just about) for the past two years. That morphed in to this rite of passage, and I'm just, super, super lucky that that lead to me being a producer for Once On This Island, and other Broadway projects that are coming up down the line. All things that I always wanted for my life, but in a way that I never expected. A complete perfect accident.

Well, no one's life story is a straight line. Still sounds pretty incredible. So did the blog start off with Playbill, or did it start with you and then Playbill picked it up?

Exactly the latter. I was producing by myself, working in a restaurant and doing my show because I really liked it, and I felt like I was doing something that no one else was really doing. I had approached Playbill several times, and after a year they had an opening in video. I signed on almost a year today. Playbill's my home now, and I'm happy to see where it takes me.

Excellent. Now, no one who has seen Once on This Island seems to have a bad word to say about it. How does it feel to have your name above the title?

I got really lucky. I mean, yes, I put in the hard work and dedication, blah, blah, blah, but a lot of it is being in the right place at the right time, and that's what happened with me. That's what happened with stage management, and that's what happened with this show. I was brought on as a producer having never done it before, having zero idea what I was doing, and was taken under the wing of the incredible Hunter Arnold. He took me and a group of like-minded individuals under his wing with the ultimate goal in mind being the fostering of a new generation of Broadway producers that don't fit the mold of being straight, over sixty-five and white.


This group are all different races, genders, non-conforming, and we're really trying to flip Broadway on its head. So when I was asked to be a producer on Once On This Island, it was a no brainer. It tells the story of underserved people. People of color don't get their stories told as often. It's important to tell their stories in the large medium that is Broadway.

So what's the learning curve for a new producer like?

Almost infinite challenges. I was so unprepared to do it. But a lot of times in life you have to jump in to a challenge and you usually come up swimming. That's what happened here. They had to teach us from step one. I had to learn to read a profit and loss report. I had to learn how to pitch a show. I had to learn all the questions that my now investors would have. It was a huge learning curve, but like everything in life, I tackle it head on. I don't commit to things half-assed. If I'm going to do a blog I'm gonna do it. If I'm going to produce on broadway I'm gonna do it.

I'm curious, this is not the path you expected to take… is it a path you would recommend to other people?

There's no one path. Hearing that was always frustrating for me growing up. But it's honestly the truth. My advice is always to follow your truth, live your life. It may not be easy, but that's where you really start taking off professionally. I'm gay, I love Broadway, I'm a big theatre nerd, I'm not athletic, but this is who I am, this is what I really like, and I gonna live this unapologetically, and saying that was when I really started getting a following and garnered the respect of the industry. I couldn't imagine being an actor now. If someone offered me a job on Broadway I'd probably say no. I mean, I say that now…

We've all seen how you behave around some of the stars you interview… I think you might take it.

[Laughs] Yeah, maybe. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it and I'll get back to you.

It feels like the kind of blog that you do exists for other mediums, (TV, film, etc) but, short, easy to digest videos featuring Broadway stars and theatre people don't really exist. You seem to have found a niche for yourself that people were waiting for.

You're absolutely right. There were no real Broadway bloggers per se. A few have started since me. But I was one of a few that lead a revolution of social media on Broadway.

I know you have a lot to choose from, but do you have a favorite interviewee?

Oh my god! To be honest I have never had a guest I felt uncomfortable with, or that I thought was bad, or I didn't vibe with. Gloria Estefan was my first, and she's pretty hard to top. She was so kind, and so influential in my career, I also just had a great time with her. Other Broadway stars have been a riot. What's great is they're just real humans, and that's what I really aim to show in my series, is that these people are real life human beings and at the end of the day they'll sit down on the couch with you and have a real conversation.

And the natural follow up question to that is (and you probably have a list for this one) who would you love to have on, that you haven't already?

Oh my gosh, okay, so my Broadway wish list is Lin-Manuel Miranda, he has been on, but obviously he is iconic in this space. Ben Platt, who just won the Tony for Dear Evan Hansen, I'd love to have him. This is a little more niche, but Cynthia Arebo who won her Tony two years ago for The Color Purple. I'm obsessed with her in a very healthy, legal way, and I would love to have her on. Aside from Broadway my dream guest is Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, or Beyonce. If you have a connection please let me know.

And now I want to see Barack Obama on Broadway

Me too. I'd so buy a ticket for that.

So, the Tony nominations are coming up in June. People are already buzzing a lot about Once on This Island… how are you feeling about it?

A part of me produced the show because of the message, a part of me produced it because of the people in it, and the story that we're telling. But also I would be remiss to say "I don't want a Tony nomination, I don't want a Tony award" especially since it's something I've dreamed of my whole life. It hasn't really sunk in yet. I've dealt with extreme nerves and pressure, but I don't even know what that feeling is like. I'm kind of chuffed, relishing not being nervous right now. I know that I won't be able to sleep the night before the nominations, but, like for so many people, this has been a lifelong dream of mine. And if it hasn't happened by the time I'm 28, that's not crazy, but this is the first time its even been a possibility, much less something that looks like its in my reach. So we'll see.

Well, good luck to you!

Thank you! And I appreciate you taking the time to chat today.

No problem, break a leg!

You can catch Tyler in his weekly blog, or on his Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And be sure to watch Once on This Island, currently playing at the Circle in the Square theatre on Broadway.

Thomas Burns Scully is a PopDust contributor, and also an award-winning actor, playwright, and musician. In his spare time he writes and designs escape rooms. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram

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