Updated: Dec 22, 2020
Conor is a good friend of mine and has kindly agreed to be the second interview for Happy Smiley. It was great to be able to have this chat and get to know Conor a little better, and this interview actually gave me some very interesting insights into the wonderful mind of Conor McKenzie. Conor has successfully built himself a brand based on gender fluidity, body flexibility (this guy does the splits in his SLEEP), and physical wellness. His bold and charismatic content on Instagram is a stark contrast to his other great passion, his Patreon profile. Here Conor posts online stretch-along’s, often with guided meditations. Being a creator myself it is becoming easier to conduct our interviews via voice-note, so Conor agreed to send through all of his answers on Instagram and I’ve never heard such a happy voice. Like all of our interviews, we started with our three icebreaker questions:
1. "What’s the one thing that never fails to make you smile?" to which Conor replied "My Dog, Oliver".
2. "What animal best represents your personality?" where Conor again replied "My dog, Oliver lol".
3. "On a scale of 1-10, how are you feeling today?" where he gave us a very positive "8!"
From this it became quite apparent who the most important person in the world is to Conor, his dog. I mean, who wouldn’t be, look at his FACE. Conor also gave himself an 8 during an interview, which is a very good mental health score. Conor has been public in the past about things that have worried him or stressed him out, but this interview will help you understand why he was feeling so good at the time.
This beautiful human is an incredible dancer, a comedic creator and an all-round feel-good person to follow. I discovered Conor two years ago when he went viral for one of the most creatively brilliant videos I’ve ever watched, which was enough to invigorate anyone into feeling like that bitch. The video featured animated words of negativity being pushed aside by a stilettoed McKenzie - dancing to the newly released Thank U, Next by Ariana Grande. The video was already going viral when the one and only Ariana herself re-shared it, helping Conor with the biggest jump start to his social media career (honestly the power that one person can hold).
“When Ari reposted me, for loss of better words I lost my shit. It was really exciting!”
Conor was on his way to a weekend getaway with his friends at the time everything took off, and was even one of his friends that noticed. Showing how supportive his friends are, they spent the entire weekend celebrating Conor’s sudden skyrocket on social media, climbing form 70K to over 200K in a matter of days. This has been a great business opportunity for Conor as he has since turned his profile into his professional career, working full-time to create content for his passionate audience.
Such a large following certainly comes with its limitations. According to Conor, he has a love-hate relationship with social media. He praises the interconnectivity that social media brings and discusses how privileged he is to be able to have worked with such amazing people through the power of social media but is also aware of the consequences that it’s uses can bring. Conor mentioned the notion of “doom scrolling” (one that I had not heard but I actually really relate to). The idea that we can scroll aimlessly through a barrage of filtered content and come away feeling worse about ourselves.
“I think it’s just about keeping the focus on the positives and trying not to “doom scroll” and not compare yourself to others, you know we only see the curated parts and highlights of someone’s day, so remembering that really helps to keep the negatives at bay”
Alongside Conor’s own awareness of his social media usage, he successfully creates content that helps other people to believe that they can be whoever they want to be. I asked Conor about his “I don’t give a f**k attitude”, which was quickly responded to with a chuckle. Conor’s upbringing in the south means he was no stranger to overt homophobia and abuse. Conor believes that this led to him having much thicker skin. Alongside this, he maintains a very levelheaded approach to his self-esteem, stating that it’s all about balance. “You have to have the lows to feel the highs” he said, a prime example of a disciplined individual that knows his own mind. This wasn’t even his best advice; Conor went on to say something that should be enough to lift anyone’s mood…
I think to achieve that attitude Is just to focus on what makes you unique, what makes you special. You know, what is your gift that you can offer to the world that others can’t. Everyone has a gift to give and so the important thing in achieving that “I don’t give a fuck attitude” is honing that and giving that gift to the world.
Conor’s gift is abundantly clear, dancing…well, and comedy…and serving looks…and serving body…etc etc etc…he’s really a multi-gifted person, shall we say lol. Prior to his love of dancing, Conor, like most youths, was unsure of what his future held. But, from his first experience of dancing at the age of 14 he knew it was what he wanted to do. A dancing career has so many avenues to be explored he says, “You know you can be on Broadway, or you can be on music video, or like I’m a content creator but I still perform sometimes”. Conor goes on to express his endless gratitude for his career in this industry, as he appreciates the difficulty in solidifying a career in the creative arts.
Whilst he has developed a great attitude towards his self-esteem, he has also been able to deflect most of the hate he receives as an act of insecurity on the part of the attacker, rather than an inadequacy on the part of the victim. Conor states that most people that are uncomfortable with those that experiment with their gender or that break social norms are experiencing their own kind of internalised homophobia that has been instilled in them by society. Conor went on to suggest that “we don’t need to walk them through it and educate them, that’s not my job. Or we can move on and understand that it’s them and not you”. This is yet another mature approach to this kind of negative behaviour as often internalised homophobia is deep-routed and, without the will to change, is almost impossible to reverse.
Prejudice is not only something that is experienced from those outside of the queer community, but by potential dating prospects. When asked if Conor’s gender expressionism makes dating hard, he had to take a deep breath and acknowledged the gravity of the topic.
“I think this is a conversation that the queer community should have more and it’s something I could talk about for days, but yes 100% it makes it harder to date for me”.
Conor notes his frustrations with people’s inability to see beyond his content and expressionism, and their reluctances to simply see him as a person. There is known shaming within our community; if you aren’t muscular, masculine and basically the epitome of toxic masculinity then you aren’t datable. A topic that I personally find fascinating and has motivated me to go in the completely opposite direction by growing complete claws and painting them red. Conor too has the most to DIE for nails and often has them professionally manicured.
The assumption that could be made by some on Conor’s appearance, expression and content is that he may be extra or flamboyant. However, Conor states that in real life he is a super laid back and chilled person. Even having the interview with him I could hear in his voice how calm and collected he was, it was almost soothing. So, to have people make this assumption of him must he frustrating. Conor again directs this the wider issue within our community. He acknowledges that there is a dire need for conversations about change amongst queer people and that internalised homophobia is a society driven factor, something that he too suffers from occasionally. Conor has started to combat this by trying to get to know people through other means before they learn of his social media, ensuring that they get to know him as a person before his social media personality. However, when asked if dating was something that was actively on his mind, he responded “I’m thriving and focussing on me. Just moved into my own place and I don’t want to mess anything up for me right now”, and sis I feel that. Relationships can be great, but they can also be unwelcome distractions.
With all our interviews, I wanted to know what Conor’s biggest struggle was. Interestingly, it was not at all something I expected it to be, “I think the biggest struggle for me personally is being alone and learning to be happy being alone”. This is actually a really common struggle and one that does not get enough attention. Conor again praises his fortune for not having lost a loved one, and for having such a loving and supportive family. With this, he almost attempts to play down his biggest struggle. In a society that has become so interconnected, cosmopolitan and social, it is very easy struggle with feeling alone. Conor is someone that thrives in a social environment, and so when he is alone, he is learning to be present and be aware of his own mind. This is actually a very challenging thing to do. There are many of us in society, me included, who sometimes find that being alone can be a struggle but learning to do so can be so uplifting.
With the final question, I wanted to allow Conor to answer freely without any editing. So, when asked what advice Conor would give to his younger self, he said the following…
What a beautiful question. I think there’s lots of things I think I would say not to overthink so much and be more present in the moment. I am so bad about thinking about the future and planning and trying to be so prepared. I would tell myself like “yo, like breathe be in this moment it’s ok, you don’t have to have everything figured out all of the time”. It’s a scary thing, like even thinking about it now it terrifies me. It’s about just being comfortable being alone and in the moment. “Don’t overthink things sis, breathe, you got this”.
I just wanted to thank Conor for taking the time to be our second ever interview, and for giving us all a wonderful insight into the man behind the screen. Conor has proven himself to be a caring and compassionate individual, with a very mature head on his shoulders. This beauty has an incredible career ahead of him and should be very proud of all he’s achieved so far.
Please feel free to connect with Conor on his socials below!
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/conor_mckenzie/
Thank U, Next Post - https://www.instagram.com/p/BqDO0OMAkIs/?hl=en
Patreon - https://www.patreon.com/posts/43675456