ChicagoPride.com Betty Who Interview
“I am really proud of everything I am doing right now. I feel very grown up, which is strange to say.”
“The LGBTQ community is where I feel the most at home,” Jessica Anne Newham, better known as Betty Who, tells ChicagoPride.com ahead of her August 12 appearance at Northalsted Market Days in Boystown.
The 26-year-old Australia-born singer-songwriter has long been an ally to the LGBTQ community, having performed Pride festivals around the country and lent her voice to fundraising efforts by the Trevor Project and GLAAD.
In 2013, Who’s infectious single “Somebody Loves You” was used in a viral same-sex marriage proposal video at a Salt Lake City Home Depot. The song hit the top of Billboard’s Dance/Club chart and has since become a gay wedding staple. And recently, Netflix asked Who to remix “All Things,” the theme song to the second season of Queer Eye.
Standing 6’2″, Who has never been a traditional pop star and she credits the LGTBQ community with kickstarting her career, which began with the RCA Records releases The Movement and The Valley, and got its own reboot with the independent EP Betty, Pt. 1 released on June 15.
Who recently performed an exclusive Pride event at the AT&T Michigan Avenue flagship store in Chicago, which is where ChicagoPride.com’s Jerry Nunn caught up with the pop phenomenon.
JN: (Jerry Nunn) Does everyone think your name is really Betty? [laughs]
BW: (Betty Who) Yes and no. [laughs] But it’s funny, everyone calls me it now. Even my finance will talk about me. He’ll be like ‘hey Betty’ and his family will be like that’s literally not her name.
JN: Is it nice to distance yourself a little bit?
BW: That’s the reason I did it in the first place. I just wanted some part of my life to be mine and nobody else’s.
JN: How did the Queer Eye song happen?
BW: Isn’t it so fun, the video? Netflix actually reached out and said they felt like I was the right person for this particular project. I said, “Hell yeah I am!”
It was really awesome and I was very honored to be a part of it.
JN: So which one do you think you’re closest to?
BW: Everyone always asks me that. [laughs] Out of all of them I think maybe Karamo [Brown]. He likes to dig deep. Bobby needs to help me in my normal life, so it couldn’t be him. I do make a mean guac, so Antoni would be really proud of me!
JN: Where did your activism in the LGBT community originally start?
BW: Honestly it started at my very first show in New York at Pianos on the Lower East Side when 80 gay men showed up to see me perform. I had no idea that this would be the thing I would be doing. I was just making music. I didn’t know a social responsibility comes along with it. I was 19 and putting out free music online so who cares?
It fell into my lap and I am so grateful it did, especially since I have gotten older. It is a social responsibility and not to be taken lightly. I am also excited about it and not burdened by it. I speak out about the things I want to.
Earlier I was calling senators about the Keep Families Together Act. I posted my story about how easy it was. It took three minutes and everyone should do it. Stuff like that is very important to me.
I feel really honored to be here and get to celebrate Pride. The LGBTQ community is where I feel the most at home.
JN: You’re coming back for Market Days.
BW: I can’t wait! I heard someone say it was gayer than Pride! And that it’s going to literally be so fun, they say they shut all of Boystown down. It’s going to be lit!
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