Adam Rippon and I are standing inside what looks like a giant humidifier, and that’s not an exaggeration. The room is thick with foggy vapor and lit with a soft blue glow. At a bar towards the back, Campbell’s tomato soup is being spooned out instead of cocktails, and the gift bags are full of cough drops. A quartet of carolers are singing Christmas classics from above. Considering the year Rippon has had, he seems understandably unphased.
Rippon is inside this steamy room because he’s partnered with Vicks to spread the word about their new VapoCOOL drops this cold and flu season. As a former Olympic athlete who is on a plane every other day, staying healthy is crucial. “DayQuil and NyQuil were always something that I knew that it was safe to take…[they’re] just something that when you're not feeling great, you just wanna feel really good right away...it wakes you up, makes you feel good, and helps you get through the day.”
While Rippon isn’t sure if he gets free DayQuil for life now (“I'm gonna work that out as soon as this interview is over”) he did have plenty to say about the rollercoaster of a year he’s had, from the Olympics and Will & Grace to his upcoming appearance in Samantha Bee’s Christmas on I.C.E. holiday special.
OUT: What was it like to have a guest spot on Will & Grace?
Adam Rippon: It's kind of surreal because I grew up watching that show. And to be on the actual set and to work with those actors is just kind of a dream come true. It was also my first time ever acting. I've acted like I was interested in something that I was wasn't, but never in a role. I didn't have a lot of lines, but I made sure that I stayed and took in the whole experience every single day that there was a rehearsal, so that if it was something that I ever wanted to do again that I could see and watch people who do it better than anybody — like Debra Messing, like Sean Hayes — I could watch from the best.
So, is this the start of something new? Next year, Oscars? A star is born?
Definitely...maybe I'll get an Emmy for my spot on Will & Grace.
You’ll be releasing your first book next year, can you tell us what it will be about?
I feel like a lot of people just found out about me during the Olympics, so there's a lot that I wanna share. When people think of me, they see somebody who's confident, comfortable in their own skin, and it wasn't always that way for me. The way that I got to where I am now is because I went through a lot of ups and downs. I used to be ashamed of those downs, and now I wear them really proudly because they really helped shape who I am. And they helped me embrace all the good and bad that I am.
I've realized that when you come up short in different circumstances, that they're not failures. They're only failures if you didn't give 100%. But if it doesn't happen because it just doesn't happen, you can't control that. And you can never look at something and be like, "I failed." You can say that, you know, "Maybe it wasn't enough," but what are you gonna do from that situation? How are you going to deal with that? How are you going to be better? Because a lot of the situations we're put in, we don't have a lot of control. It's somebody else making a decision. You can't control anybody except yourself and your own experience.
Oh, my God, my mom told me that!
She's so smart.
She is so smart. What were some of the highlights of your year, looking back on it?
Definitely the Olympics. I would say getting to partner with different companies has been something I've always dreamed of, especially being here with Vick's. Which is a little surreal. Something that you've used for your whole life and you actually get to work with the company? Let's see, being in Time 100 and having Cher write my biography — I didn't even know she knew I was alive.
Yeah, I've heard of her.
Yeah, she's very up and coming. [There were] different moments that have been very "pinch me," like we know Will & Grace. Being one of OUT's most influential people of the year. I think that this'll definitely be a year I look back on and I think there'll be some jolting reminders of like, "Oh, my God. I can't believe I got to do that."
You’re going to be appearing in Samantha Bee’s holiday special, Christmas on I.C.E., how did you get involved?
Well, I got to meet her a few weeks ago, and we filmed that little vignette of the prep for the show. And I mean, she's just so funny. But it kinda goes back to I really feel comfortable in that comedy space, and I love the work that she does that it feels like the perfect place for me to be this holiday.
Do you have any resolutions for 2019?
Now that I'm not skating so much, one is I wanna make sure that I continue to work out. And go to the gym.
Yeah, you really seem like someone who would let themself go.
Oh, my God. The weight that I have on my driver's license is completely irrelevant to what I am now. So...I'm evolving.
Getting thicc with two c's.
Yeah, and two k's. I wanna still stay healthy. I still wanna skate as much as I can. I wanna continue to take advantage of all the opportunities that I have. The mindset that I had [this year], that I went in and gave 100% into everything that I did, I wanna do that even more so in 2019 ‘cause for the past 20 years, I've focused on one career. And now I have so many options that I want to really focus on taking advantage of them, but also doing all of the work at home that I would need to take to do them really well.
Is this new chapter scary? Exciting? Both?
It's both. When I get to do [these new] experiences, it's a lot of fun. I think what's a little scary is sometimes I go into a situation, and I think the expectation is either that I'm expected to go in and act like I've been doing it for like 400 years. Or the expectation is completely the opposite, and they're like, "We're gonna throw you to the wolves and just see what happens." I've surprised myself in the way that I'm able to take on these new avenues. It really makes me think about what I'd like to do next because there are a few things where I leave and I'm like, "Hey. I'm kind of good at that. I wanna try that." But yeah, there's definitely a few where I leave and I'm like, "Hahaha, never again."
What do you want for Christmas?
What do I want for Christmas? I think for Christmas I just want...Here's the thing. If I see something I want, I usually go and get it, 'cause live fast.
You're an independent woman.
I am. I buy my own things. I buy my own diamonds and I buy my own rings.