Leslie Jordan Just Wants to Make People Laugh Through Hard Times (Exclusive)
By John Boone
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"Well sh*t, what are y'all doin'?"
With those six words, Leslie Jordan cemented himself as the king of quarantine, the voice of the social distancing generation, and the influencer we never knew we needed. Amid these trying times, the actor, best known for his work on Will & Graceand American Horror Story, has gone viral by way of short videos he's recorded of himself at home.
"I had 80,000 followers and then all of a sudden, it started climbing," Jordan told ET's Lauren Zima. "And people would call and go, 'Leslie, you have a million followers.' I go, 'Why?'"
The 64-year-old now has upwards of 3 million Instagram followers, all tuning in to watch him document his day-to-day life in quarantine: One day, he's painting his toenails. The next, he's twirling a baton like he used to do for daddy. He is talking about what he's snacking on, sharing stories about co-stars of yesteryear, and commiserating about being bored.
Unlike most influencers, however, he won't be filling his feed with #sponcon.
"Even my agents were saying, you know, 'There's a way we could maybe monetize' -- which I didn't even know was a word -- and I said no," he said. "I'm just having a good time and I don't want to do that. I don't want to make money out of it."
The truth is, Jordan just wants to make people laugh, now more than ever. "I feel like I've been through this before as a gay man in the '80s. My gosh, I buried an entire phone directory," he opened up. Still, he remains optimistic. "We're going to get through this and I think that we'll come out of this stronger, we'll come out of this kinder. It's a shared thing that we're all going through."
Until then, he'll be @thelesliejordan, asking what y'all are doing. And though his videos have since become memes on Twitter and trends on TikTok, he's not looking to brave a new social media frontier anytime soon.
"I wouldn't even know how!" he exclaimed. "I had enough trouble with Zoom so that you and I could talk." As the interview wraps, Jordan hangs up the call -- or so he thinks. "Do I have to turn it off?" he asks. "Don't talk about me. I can still hear you!"