This January someone new will join the Kardashian clan, Caitlyn Jenner, and Christina Milian as the face of an E! reality show. Only this time, he's a gay clairvoyant who connects celebrities with those who've already passed away.
Tyler Henry is the 20-year-old star of the upcoming series Hollywood Medium, and we can look forward to seeing NeNe Leakes, Amber Rose, Monica Potter, Margaret Cho, Michael Sam, Bella Thorne, Boy George, Snooki, Ross Matthews, and others connecting with the dearly departed.
Having grown up in a small town in central California, Henry is a neophyte when it comes to Los Angeles and its celebrity culture. Over the course of Hollywood Medium's first season--which will consist of eight episodes--Henry will cross paths with many notables from multiple generations for a crash-course in big egos.
Before the show's premiere January 24, Tyler Henry discussed his new career as a medium to the celebs and answered some of Out's most pressing (and skeptical questions) about his psychic gifts, what his clairvoyant visions feel like, and his two coming out experiences.
Out: How has Los Angeles been treating you, and what's been the hardest aspect of your move and new television show?
Tyler Henry: This entire experience has been really intense. It's been really incredible moving to L.A. as a medium but also just as a person. This has really been a time where I've been able to step into my own and harness who I am and my identity. I was really looking forward to the move because it allowed for more diversity and for me to be around more likeminded people.
Moving in and of itself was a bit of a mess. Going from a small town to a big city was a big culture shock. There were definitely adjustments that I had to get used to. One of the biggest ones was being in an apartment building. That was something I wasn't traditionally used to. Coming from a little house in the middle of nowhere, I was just familiar with my own energy and presence. It's an adjustment.
Honestly, did you ever think you'd be able to make a career of your gift?
I really felt in some capacity I would use my ability. I knew growing up that I was meant to help people and, when I graduated from high school, I chose to go to college to become a hospice nurse. So with that, I knew that I wanted to focus on [helping] people and there I would still be able to deliver messages. But this career took off and I'm so glad that it did. It's really allowed me to step into who I truly am, and I'm so thankful to be able to fulfill my purpose every single day.
So how did you go from training to become a hospice nurse to a TV medium?
Hospice nursing was definitely something I planned on, but I don't see most of future so I had no idea what it would become. I was actually told by another psychic about [my new] career. I didn't even know that I was going to become a medium with a TV show. I was told it (laughs).
When I was going to school, I got a reading from a woman who told me that when I was 19 I'd start filming a TV show, and that it would do well and that I'd write books and that was my life purpose. At the time I was open-minded but I said, 'I don't know how that could be.' And then sure enough, when I was 19 it all happened.
Wow, I really need someone to tell me about my future... So let's go back to the beginning. What was the first sign of your gift?
Well there were little indications throughout childhood, but my first primary instance where I really knew was when I was 10 years old and my grandmother was ill with cancer. One night I just woke up and knew that she was going to pass away. I couldn't explain it but I just had this knowingness. I told my mom and said, 'We have to say goodbye and we have to go.' We didn't get the chance because we got the call moments later that my grandmother had actually passed away. In that particular case, I hadn't really evolved in my ability much. At that point it was a very basic knowing, but it was impactful and I was thankful to know in advance.
How did you evolve your ability after that first sign?
It was really a process of repetition and practice. The more I did readings and the more I started interacting with people and sharing what I was seeing, the more I understood the process, what it was like, and what it was like to experience. The more comfortable I got in my ability, the better, more specific, and more elaborate the messages [got].
How do you ready yourself for a reading?
Usually about an hour before, I'll sit down and go through a meditation period where I just focus on bringing through anything I can pick up on. Sometimes before I even meet the person I'm going to read, I already know who's on the other side, what their message is, and specific details about them. That is the goal of connecting beforehand, so I can go into the reading with some intuitive insight.
What does a reading feel like?
A reading is a huge experience for me, it really immerses so many different senses. Primarily I'm a clairvoyant so I receive information visually, but I also pick up on physical sensations. In the show there's many points where I probably look a little rough, because I'm overwhelmed physically and these readings take so much out of me. In a reading I'm picking up on physical sensations as well as mental and visual impressions.
The visions are [also] really diverse and inherently unique. Those images are primarily mental so I see them in my mind's eye. They'll just be quick little flashes of an image, symbol, face or person, but I do find that there are occasions where I will physically and visually see somebody. Like a full body apparition. It's usually very brief but it does happen.
What is the most emotional reading you've ever given?
Every reading has been incredibly emotional in unique ways. Working with mothers who have lost children has been the most emotional experience for me. To see what those people go through and really be able to heal and touch those lives, is where my passion's at.
My goal is ultimately to work with parents who have lost children to suicide, because that's something I've seen through clients and I've known people affected by suicide. For me, that's a huge subject and something that needs to be discussed more. A huge part of my work revolves around being an activist and being able to create a conversation.
How about the most unique vision you've had recently?
I would say one of the most interesting was with Margaret Cho, funny enough. She handed me some jewelry and had me hold onto to it to see if I would connect to any information. As I was connecting, I just saw a sock and it didn't make any sense because I was holding onto jewelry. Then she validated that the jewelry had indeed been kept in a sock. That was one of the most bizarre images in recent memory.
The skeptic in me wants to know if your gift has ever been criticized, or if you've been asked to prove your ability?
Lots of people feel either that [my gift needs] to be proven or that, on a personal level, they need the validation that their loved one is ok. Some people come to readings with a 'prove-it-to-me' mentality and others come with an openness.
I do inherently understand both sides. I think it's important to have a healthy degree of skepticism. I myself am a very skeptical person. In readings, my goal is to bring up information that there really is no way I could know. I don't like saying general things. I don't like saying information that everybody knows. I focus on information that can't be researched or googled, and that usually includes inside jokes or sentimental pieces of information that only families really know.
In high school and earlier on, my issue wasn't that I dealt with people who didn't necessarily believe in me. Unfortunately, there was a lot of fundamentalism and people who didn't like what I did because it conflicted with their beliefs.
People were more frightened by what I did, and that was a different kind of isolation in the sense that people were judging me from a religious perspective. But I found that as time went on, people did open their minds, well some did, and for those who didn't, I understand that we're all entitled to our beliefs.
Did being gay and a medium make it more difficult for find acceptance amongst those skeptics?
Yeah, not only did I have this ability to see things that most people couldn't relate to but I was gay, which in two very different ways made me feel isolated at times throughout my life. But they both allowed me to find strength and resilience. I do feel like both instilled a sense of confidence and a sense of pride in who I am as an individual.
What was your coming out experience like?
There were so many times where I had to establish who I really am and tell people. Every time that I tell someone I'm a medium, I in some sense come out of a closet [laughs]. There were two coming outs, and I found that there was an overwhelming understanding to both, but it was an adjustment, one the people around me had to make.
The coming outs were about two years apart or so. But that's just an estimate. Thankfully both were received pretty well.
So give us a little spoiler, which celebrity had the most interesting reading?
[Parenthood's] Monica Potter would probably be the most interesting on the show, because we were able to take her reading a step further. We went back to her childhood home and it's a whole fascinating story. I was able to do the reading for her and meet her family. I brought through a very close family member and it really resonated. She has one of the most incredible energies of [any] human being I've ever met. Like she's exceptional.
Hollywood Medium premieres January 24. Check out the preview for a taste of Tyler Henry: