The A Plus Interview

'All Of It Is You' Author Nico Tortorella Believes The Power Of Love Can Transform The World

“You just have to ... lead with love before anything else.”

The A Plus Interview reimagines the celebrity interview by inviting artists to answer a short series of brief, poignant questions that strive to be more meaningful than those asked by others. Check back each month for the latest installment.

If there was one word Nico Tortorella's name has become synonymous with, it is one that is short and sweet: love.

Recommended

The 29-year-old, who you might know best from TV Land's hit show Younger or the podcast The Love Bomb, has used the platform of fame he has been given to pen all of it is you, a poetry collection that came out April 17. 

In the book's introduction, Tortorella boldly declares that all of it is you is "one of the greatest titles of all time," but, at the same time, opens up about his insecurities and flaws as well as his goals and aspirations in life. As he explains, this hardcover tome takes readers on a journey into a world through his eyes, seeing how things appear to him. You're along for the ride as Tortorella explores ideas both big — splitting it into three sections: Body, Earth, and Universe — and small — beginning with entries titled "sperm" and "egg," and ending with one titled "god." Oh, and he wrote it all in 45 days.

A Plus caught up with Tortorella to chat about all of it is you as well as other topics. Among them: finding the strength to embrace your individuality (as he is a proud champion of the LGBTQIA+ community), what he would tell a younger version of himself, and exploring ways in which he views the world (most notably how the idea of love can change everything).

Courtesy of Nico Tortorella

A PLUS: What did you discover about yourself throughout the process of writing?

NICO TORTORELLA: I think I still am discovering things about myself. Every time I pick up the book I see something new and I learn something from it — and that's really what I set out to create in writing the book. I wanted to put together a collection that I could refer to, and other people could refer to, to remind them and myself of this oneness, this divine frequency of love that connects us all and is so interpersonal. 

The title of the book has become a mantra for me and a lot of other people that just hits home in such a beautiful way. At the end of the day, the book is a celebration of that, a celebration of home. Home as in our body, mind, spirit, soul, etc. Home as in our earth. Home as in our universe. I guess the process of the book reminded me of the power of love, you know? I've been really on this journey through sexuality, expression, and gender — and this book is kind of an accumulation of all three of those things. I think we, as human beings, are constantly trying to decipher who we are and where we fit into this world. What I've learned from this book is what we are and who we are ultimately is love.

What was the hardest part of writing this collection of poetry? The most rewarding?

The hardest thing for me was definitely the construct of time and trekking through it as fast as I could. I mean, I basically journaled for 45 days and, on top of that, did a bunch of photography and drawings. What you see is what you get. I didn't really have time to go back and do a lot of revisions — it's hard to revise poetry in the first place. I'll go back and look at the book and discover something in the flow, the syntax, the semantics of how each piece is put together that is surprising. I'm not always sure exactly what came through from pen to paper and the fact that it evolves so much each time I read it is, for me, so special.

What was your feeling when you finally held the finished product in your hands?

The majority of my work has been in television, in film, and on a podcast. As amazing as those platforms and mediums are, there is something about all three that live in the ether. There's a forever quality about those platforms that is much less tangible than a book that you can hold in your hand. In that moment when I had it, I knew people all over the world were going to have that same feeling holding my book — holding any book really — but the fact that I could put something into the world like this, that I created from my spirit, is just so special. Even past that, now I've been performing pieces from the book with a musical component. I like to describe it as  this moving meditation, this almost ceremonial sound bath that celebrates the word on page but far transcends the page itself. For me, that's where the practical magic in it lives at this point.

What advice would you give to someone who is too afraid to put themselves out there like you do in this poetry collection?

Stop waiting for somebody else to give you an opportunity or to knock on your door and tell you it's time. You're the only one who can make it happen. Yes, it takes a village, but you are the president/leader/medicine man/shaman of your entire village. It's up to you to get out in the world and do it. You just have to believe in yourself and lead with love before anything else.

Courtesy of Crown/Archetype

One of the things I admire about you the most is that you’re such a free spirit. Have you always been able to embrace your individuality or was it a process to get to that point?

It's definitely been a work in progress — and that work and progress has been something that I've shared quite literally since the beginning of my journey in this community. With that has come a real recognition of the privilege that I have to even tell my story to a large audience, to have people that will listen to what I'm saying is incredibly privileged, and so much of that lives in the character that I play on television and how the world knows me as this very White, very straight, very cis-passing dude. That allows me the freedom to explore so many more facets of my own individuality and really celebrate marginalized individuality that is so far from who I am and what I represent in my own life. That's really the responsibility at this point, to share this platform with as many people and stories as I can.

If you could have a conversation with your younger self, what would be the thing you would want to tell young Nico?

Don't drink as much. [Laughs]

No, I know that’s a serious topic that you’ve been very open about.

Yeah, for sure. It got a little dark for a while there. Just in my personal life, it never affected anyone else or my work life or anything. The shamanic belief is that you have to hit the floor before you can fly, and I very much did so in a lot of ways. So I don't know that I would change any of it but I would tell my younger self to be a little bit more cautious of your level of control.

Courtesy of Nico Tortorella

If there is a mantra (or mantras) you use? If so, what does it (or they) do for you?

I have a couple. The first one that I'll say to that question is: "all of it is you." None of it exists without you. You are the center, you are the god of your entire universe. It's up to you — everything that you see, everything you feel, everyone that comes into your life, and every place you go is an extension of yourself. If you love yourself, you love everything around you. Love is obviously such a complex thing and really is the fabric of life.

My second one is more of a prayer of protection: "I encircle myself in the white light of universal love and divine protection." That is something that just travels through my being all day, every day.

I love the poems you use to open each episode of “The Love Bomb.” How did that idea come about?

The poetry, that just kind of came to me. The second I set down to do the first episode I wanted to gift the listener and the interviewee a literal present of words to set the tone for the entire conversation. It really breaks down the wall. A lot of the people that I have on the podcast, it was the first time I'd ever met them. To prepare something along those lines and deliver it that way on air, publicly, there's something so special about it. To write it in verse, in sonnet, is so much where my voice lives. I like to believe that my words, pen to paper, live between the speed at which my brain moves and at which my mouth speaks. That, for me, is where magic happens.

Having done the podcast for a few seasons now, what’s the most important thing about love you’ve come to realize?

Honestly, it goes to the first episode with Bethany [C. Meyers, Tortorella's longterm partner whom he married on March 9, 2018]. At the end of the episode she answers that "love is no matter what." That has rung so true in our lives, in my life, so vividly. That's a really, really difficult thing to embody. Love no matter what. Love no matter the person, no matter the words, no matter how terrible they are, no matter how much they dislike — or like — you, no matter how much they disagree with your lifestyle, no matter how much they fucking hate every part of who you are because of what you represent in the world, no matter how much they're killing other people in the world. If you can find a piece of love for them, it's transcendental. It changes everything.

If you could play any other character on “Younger,” who would it be and why?

It would be Lauren [Heller, a character played by actress Molly Bernard] because I think we need some positive pansexual visibility from a biologically-born male somewhere on television. [Editor's note: the character of Lauren is a pansexual biologically born female on Younger, filling a void that is prevalent for LGBTQ representation in media.]

And what’s your favorite thing about playing Josh?

My favorite thing about Josh is just the expression of his heart. I think a lot of that comes from me and how I live my life, but I get to play a watered-down version of it on TV and I get to hang out with this cast that has become my family. We shoot three months out of the year and it really has become like a summer camp for us every year. We spend three months together, pretty much all day every day, and then go back to our normal life — quote unquote normal, you know what I mean. [Laughs]

How much do you influence the character of Josh?

I think I've influenced a few different characters on the show, honestly. I think that the freedom at which I live my life has influenced a lot of Josh's spontaneity and impulsive behavior. But I think, even more so, going back to his heart and leading with love — so much of that lives in Josh. I mean, he's a lot more heteronormative and tortured, not that those two things go hand-in-hand at all. [Laughs] It's a different version, but it's absolutely influenced.

I mean, I'm not going to lie, I did have a conversation with Darren [Star, the show's creator] at the beginning of the season being like, "OK, when is Josh getting a boyfriend? When is Josh getting a trans girlfriend? Like, c'mon, let's switch it up a little bit." And, as much as Darren loves the idea, he's like "it would just be too easy to do that. It would be way too easy to make Josh like Nico. It's a cop-out." I understand that fully.

There’s a big divide in our country these days — what do you think can help fix that?

Gosh … support each other. Support each other and recognize the privilege that you have and the privilege other people lack. Some people need support more than others and, if you can recognize that in the world and pick it up where it needs to be, I think you'll make a huge change. Ultimately, I think the biggest thing that separates the Right and the Left right now is the Right has a God that unites them all and the Left doesn't necessarily. I'm not saying that a belief in a God would bring us all together, but a belief in something higher than the material world we live in could really unite us in a really fucking powerful way. The driving force for that higher power is based in love.

Tortorella's poetry collection, all of it is you, is available now. Younger's fifth season premieres June 5 on TV Land, and the first two seasons of The Love Bomb are available for your listening enjoyment.

More From A Plus

GET SOME POSITIVITY IN YOUR INBOX

Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.