Queer Eye’s Tan France on ‘pressure’ of fame as gay Asian immigrant

Tan France web series dressing funny

Queer Eye star Tan France has spoken out about the “pressure” he feels to tell his story as a gay Asian immigrant in the spotlight.

France, one of the Fab Five who provides fashion expertise to the show’s participants, said he is constantly reminded he is different from his co-stars because of his ethnicity and background.

He was born in South Yorkshire to Pakistani parents and worked as a fashion designer, before finding global fame on the Netflix series.

Speaking to PA, France said it felt like a responsibility to tell a story for “marginalised” communities in his new memoir, Naturally Tan, which is out now.

“It’s hard when you’re doing a reality show because you never know which parts are going to be used and how it’s going to be edited, so I wanted to take an opportunity to write my book where nobody gets to tell me how this message is conveyed, and I also felt it was my responsibility,” he said.

“I’m in a very privileged position; I’m one of the first within my community to have a platform like this, a global platform like this, so I wanted to take the opportunity to tell the story of a person like me, who represents and is a member of many different marginalised communities, and so I wanted to tell a story that many people probably have never heard before.”

The Fab Five at their Emmy Nomination party back in July (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

He added: “I would never profess to represent an entire community, but I represent a certain version of each of the communities that I fall within, and it adds on a huge amount of pressure.

“It’s actually one of the main reasons that I didn’t want to do Queer Eye initially, and I was scared to do Queer Eye because I don’t want people to assume that when I say something, all Asians think this, or all gay people think this, or all immigrants think this, and that unfortunately is the way the media often sees it.

“When a story is written about me, it will always start ‘Pakistani, immigrant, Tan France’ – it will never say that about Antoni (Porowski) or Bobby (Berk), it’s just their name.

“So it reminds me constantly that I am different, that I am other, and that when I speak, people assume that I speak for a whole demographic, and that can’t possibly be the case.”

Earlier this year, Netflix announced France would be fronting new reality competition series called Next In Fashion.

The ten-episode show will see competitors fight for the chance to win a $250,000 prize and an opportunity to debut their collection with luxury fashion retailer Net-a-Porter.

“Next In Fashion is a high-stakes competition series coming soon to Netflix featuring some of the world’s best and quietly innovative designers who compete for a chance to become the next big name in fashion,” a press release revealed.

“Hosted by fashion designer and TV personality Tan France and designer, model and global style icon Alexa Chung, Next in Fashion begins with eighteen designers who face challenges centering on a different trend or design style that has influenced the way the entire world dresses.”