This year, we’re celebrating an extended Black History Month by highlighting a variety of rising artists who are creating history before our very eyes. There have been hundreds of American Idol semi-finalists, and most of them end up forgoing their dreams of superstardom for a normal life. But not Todrick Hall. Despite an elimination in the Top 16 episode in 2010's ninth season—which is the last time one hears about a majority of Idol finalists—Hall has ensured he stays part of pop-culture conversations with talent and important topics.
Hall arguably garnered more fame thanks to his YouTube channel—which now boasts more than two million subscribers. Before "it gets better" was the go-to tagline to comfort LGBTQ youth, Hall released a song with the same title in 2010 that appealed to anyone who's ever felt like an outsider. His 2011 Beyoncé flashmob in a Target store got a shoutout from Queen B herself. And MTV gave his work the ultimate co-sign when they greenlit Todrick, a docu-series about Hall's creation process for his videos in 2014.
But most importantly in every video and TV episode, Hall has an unabashed commitment to being himself. He's upfront about his sexuality, his likes, his dislikes, and being bullied; nothing's off-limits. That commitment to being himself has paid off, and he spoke about that when speaking about forgoing the traditional route of stardom to Pop Trigger:
"I moved to [Los Angeles] trying to take things the conventional route. I wanted to just audition for things and land some big TV show, and when I realized that was not as easy for me because I'm a gay, black man in 2014. Sometimes that seems to be a handicap for people and they choose to run home and not pursue their dreams. But the fact of the matter is...it's America in 2014 and you can look at it that way. I just started building my own franchise online."
Now managed by Scooter Braun (who made the likes of Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and fellow Idol-hopeful-turned-YouTube-star Tori Kelly all GRAMMY-nominated stars), Hall's commitment to self is stronger and more visible than ever, and acts as inspiration and guidance for any person trying to navigate their way to their dreams.