We're very excited to bring you this Hunk du Jour Interview. Be sure to read our past interviews, and if you've got an inside line on a noteworthy guy we should talk to, please let us know! Thanks to Robert for the tip!
We got a chance to chat with Andrew Oldershaw about life, his many projects, being featured on the November 2008 cover of Instinct Magazine, and how normal guys like you and I can get started making a difference in our own community.
How has the reaction to your Instinct cover been?
My friends joke and poke and give me grief, but I've gotten a ton of emails from total strangers. It gives you goosebumps when a young gay kid you've never met from Illinois tells you his life story and that he's planning to get a few friends together to start a pro-social community group after reading it. I've had people ask about coming out, about organizations to donate to, about how they can roll up their sleeves and do something. That's exactly why I did it. That's the spirit of standing and being counted. I guess you never know (and certainly never expect) how one seemingly ordinary life can influence others. I'm touched. We've got a lot of work to do, and we'll need all hands on deck.
How did you get into television?
When I was younger I was an avid consumer of popular culture. In college I made a major out of it, studying mass media in all its forms. I always wanted to somehow become a part of creating it...feeding, shaping and informing popular culture in some way. I'm no spring chicken, but to be honest I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up....so many things I want to do in this life.
What has inspired you to return to modeling (along with your many other projects)?
I was with an agency in NYC, near where I grew up. I missed it. I also used to do a lot of photography when I was younger, so I know what its like to be on both sides of the lens. Its just plain fun. If some work comes up because of it, great, we've all got bills to pay. But for now, people are asking and I'm all for a little artistic fun.
What are the significance of your tattoos? Are there any stories around them?
I have two phrases on my forearms, both in Latin, that mean "eyes wide to the world" and "without regret". The short answer is that they are how I live my life. The longer answer would take paragraphs. Same goes for my half sleeve, its a combination of several smaller elements that mean a lot to me...a poinsettia for my Mom, a flying fish that has the coloration of a rainbow trout because my Dad's favorite thing in the world is fishing, a compass surrounded by an abstract formation of the letters that spell "seeker", the wings of Icarus because that myth has great significance to me and my life, and the quote "I awake each morning torn between my desire to save the world and my desire to savor it". There's more, and all of those have more detailed meanings, but again we'd need paragraphs for that. Can you tell I'm an shameless over-thinker?
Has your family been supportive of your over the years? They're seem to be a big part of your life... and skin!
My parents are the two best people I know. They were supportive when I came out, were there for me when I got sober, and have been my loudest cheering section. I owe a great deal of who I am to my Mom and Dad, not just simply because they are my parents but because they have taught me everything I know about selflessness, generosity, hard work and optimism. It was a no-brainer to committ a symbolic image for them to my body when I was conceiving my half-sleeve.
You did a YouTube video series for quite a while -- what can you tell us about those? Why did you start that up? Any plans on starting that back up?
You know, I was in the middle of transformative time. I had been doing an almost daily written blog for ages and when I got a new computer that had an iSight I couldn't resist trying it. It was so different than meticulously writing something, it was kind of electric and stimulating to have to click it on and just tap the brain/heart. It was a random collection of my thoughts, experiences...mostly silly personal rants. I haven't done one in like a year. And the strange thing is, I never promoted them. People just found it, those that were reading my blog or friends that happened upon it. Currently no plans to reincarnate the vlog, but you never know.
You're involved with a variety of causes and organizations, can you tell us about a few of them?
I've been volunteering in some capacity for LGBT non-profits for close to five years. I can't really imagine my life without that kind of extracurricular work. I'm not in a position where I can write the big checks, so instead I give my time and energy. I've worked with GLAAD, HRC, LA Gay & Lesbian Center, the YPC, HOMOtracker, Outfest and others.
How did the opportunities to work with these organizations come about?
It's easy to get involved. Figure out what kind of area you'd like to work in...media, youth, politics, health issues...and then explore the organizations website. Every organization has volunteer opportunity information available online. Start volunteering, meet some of the people involved and tell them how you think you can best support the mission and needs of that particular organization. It's an amazing time right now in LGBT activism, there's always ways to pitch in!
Younger people often wonder what they could possibly do to make a difference -- what would your advice to them be?
Raise your hand to be called upon. In the Post-Prop 8 world, there's so much you can do. Figure out how best you can help...do you have a social sphere of influence? Do you have unique skills to offer? Are you willing to do the labor like mailings and cold calls and event volunteering? Do you know people in a position to donate? Activism opportunities don't come knocking on your door...seek them out! It's also critical in the age of Facebook and YouTube where information sharing is at an all-time high to be sure that the information you're sharing is constructive and accurate. If you think it, you can do it. Some friends and I were hanging out one night talking about the No on 8 Campaign and we thought to ourselves, hey we're all in entertainment, we can do something. Flash forward six weeks we're on set of a PSA shoot that ended up becoming viral hits and one ended up on air throughout California. Don't be afraid to act. You'll be amazed what you can accomplish.
Prop 8 and Marriage Equality have obviously become major issues leading up to and ever since the election last month. There's a lot of information about the causes flying around out there, what are the best sources for the latest news on the front?
I'm a big fan of Towleroad.com, Andy and his team are on the ball day after day sharing news, updates, movement-related developments. JointheImpact is a great example of young people who have their finger on the pulse of the youth movement and beyond, Amy and her team are an amazing galvanizing force at the moment.
I've seen some photos from a Dodgeball championship... so how good of a dodgeball player are you?
Hahaha....well, I'm far from the best player on the team. I'm a little too aggressive so I get out a lot cause I'm often up front. Our team, Furious George, is co-champs of our league though so we're pretty darn good. And we're the only team that's predominantly gay, so that tells you something. If only Prop 8 was decided on the dodgeball court, maaaaan we could've killed it!
You were highly recommended to us long ago by your friend Robbie. Any words of thanks for him? Or perhaps a warning of what punishment might await for getting you into this??
Robbie is one of those rare people that you bump into on the path of life who selflessly and supportively sees something in you that you might not see all the time. He has my gratitude. Punishment? Naw. Praise.
Are you currently involved with anyone? What does a guy have to do to get noticed by Andrew Oldershaw?
Oh lord, Chris. You're gonna get me in trouble. I'll just say that there's nothing sexier than a guy that knows himself, expresses himself and cares more about what's outside his window than in his mirror....but yeah fine you gotta be cute too, lol.