Queer Eye was, of course, a runaway success. Fans fell in love with the five hosts, and it won three Emmys in 2018. A new-to-fame Tan was shocked to even be nominated: ‘I was like, "Oh that is so cute, but obviously it's not gonna win, we're a reality show, they don't win Emmys and we're a reboot - and a reboot has never won an Emmy"’.
He recalls the moment he found out. ‘I cried my heart out because I was so blown away and it was so unexpected. I would never for a moment think that I would ever be in a position to win an Emmy. I'd watch this ceremony in the UK when I was younger and it was just all fantasy, I never dreamt that this could be my life.’
When asked about his book, Tan is open about how a lack of representation has influenced this decision to share his life beyond the screen. He is one of the only ‘out’ gay South Asian men on western television: ‘I have a story to tell that is unique’ he says, ‘I've never heard this story before, especially not in the mainstream; I haven't seen a person that represents all that I represent and therefore the story hasn't been told.’
‘People believe that they understand what my life is about, because they get a snapshot of it on the show that I am on,’ he continues. ‘But there is not enough show to be able to really articulate who I am.’
Among the poignant anecdotes that tell Tan’s origin story, Naturally Tan is also filled with his trademark kind-but-firm fashion advice, including tips on how to replicate his illustrious hairstyle:
‘Nobody is going to accuse you of being homosexual just because you own a blow dryer. It will make a huge difference to your appearance. And if they do ask if you’re gay, after seeing your beautifully turned out coif, smile and thank them, because someone assuming you are gay is usually their way of saying you are so darn stylish that you must have heightened powers. Own it bitch, stop being so offended.’
Naturally Tan by Tan France is out now. Interview by Donna Mackay