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In one of his final interviews, Leslie Jordan shared the personal origins of his “Daddy, watch me twirl” viral video and discussed being embraced by Nashville amid his pursuit of a country music career.
The Emmy-winner and former Will & Grace actor with a deep catalog of screen and stage appearances sat down with CBS Mornings in early October to discuss his early life, decades-long career and his pandemic fame. The previously unaired interview was released Tuesday, just a day after 67-year-old Jordan died in a car crash in Los Angeles.
As the piece tries to unpack why the bubbly actor with a Southern drawl’s social media videos filmed and posted during the pandemic garnered him millions of new followers and fans, Jordan opened up about the origins of one such video. In it, he can be seen twirling a baton as he exclaims, “Daddy, watch me twirl” — similar to an excited child.
He told the morning news program that the concept was based on his own life and upbringing. “My dad was a lieutenant colonel in the Army. He was a man’s man, and his group of guys would come home and I’d be twirling a baton in the front yard. My mother taught me. She was a champion baton twirler,” he explained.
Thinking back to his early days as a young gay kid, Jordan recounted what his mother told him after he shared with her his feelings about his identity when he was “about 12.”
“She said, ‘I think you’ll be subject for ridicule and I couldn’t bear that,'” he recalled. “So why don’t you just live quietly.”
“So here I am!” Jordan followed up, laughing.
His infectiously energetic, genuine demeanor would come through in a number of roles, branding the performer with a distinct, recognizable persona. It was a “bright and bubbly” personality, he said, that he had complicated feelings about.
“Sometimes I get tired of that,” he admitted. “I’ll do a take or something and they’ll go, ‘Do that Leslie Jordan, thing.’ OK, OK. Whatever that is, I don’t know.”
While the actor had a long career as a talented multihyphenate, during the interview, he opened up about pursuing music and working on an upcoming album. The latest turn in his career saw him teaming with country music duo Locash and Blanco Brown.
It was a byproduct of a regular Sunday Instagram hymn singing event which saw him performing the hymns he grew up on, with people increasingly tuning in to watch him.
“Somehow from that we decided to make an album,” he said. “So unexpected just to happen in my 60s. I’m a country music singer now. I love Nashville in the way that Nashville embraced me. And to be taken kind of serious and to have made an album with Dolly Parton, Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, that’s something.”
Watch the full CBS Mornings segment below.
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