We love us some Jonathan Van Ness. And with the author, actor, activist, and all-around American favorite making his Skillshare debut, we thought it would be a great time to take a look at his many accomplishments—and all of the interesting twists and turns that got him to where he is today.
If you’re as big of a JVN fan as we are, come along for this deep dive into his life, career, and creative journey, and then learn from the legend yourself by taking his new Skillshare Original class, “The Ultimate Self Care Playbook.”
Quick Facts About Jonathan Van Ness
Before we get into the details, here’s a short guide to some of the most common questions that we see people asking about JVN.
Who is Jonathan Van Ness?
Jonathan Van Ness—or as he’s commonly referred to, JVN—is an American media personality who first gained major fame as the host of Netflix’s Queer Eye revival. A former hairdresser and salon owner, JVN was no stranger to the stage when he took over on Queer Eye¸ having previously received an Emmy nomination for his work on Gay of Thrones—a Funny or Die web series where he did guests’ hair while discussing recent episodes of Game of Thrones.
Today, JVN is known for a whole lot more than just his hairdressing skills or his hosting gigs. In addition to a continued TV presence, Jonathan Van Ness is also an author, podcaster, and HIV activist, with plenty of exciting things in the pipeline.
What are Jonathan Van Ness’ Pronouns?
Jonathan Van Ness’ pronouns are he/him/his, though he has stated that he is fine with being referred to as she/her or they/them, too.
“[Gender] is this social construct that I don’t really feel like I fit into the way I used to,” said Van Ness in an interview in Out Magazine where he announced that he identifies as non-binary.
Where Does Jonathan Van Ness Live?
JVN currently lives in Austin. He made his way down to Texas from New York City for Queer Eye filming, which paused during the pandemic. While staying in Austin to quarantine, Van Ness ended up falling in love with the bustling Texas city and decided to make his life there permanent.
JVN has also made his new home state a part of his many philanthropic efforts. Stay tuned here to learn more about mutual aid networks around Texas, how JVN is getting involved, and how you can, too.
All About Jonathan Van Ness: Hairdresser, Podcaster, Author, TV Personality, and More
We’ve covered the basics, so now let’s get into some of the specifics surrounding JVN’s impressive career.
Jonathan Van Ness first entered the national spotlight in 2013 with Gay of Thrones, and later took a more prominent center stage role as the host of the revived Queer Eye series on Netflix in 2018.
So how did a web star score such an impressive role? Van Ness told Into the Gloss that it wasn’t a sure deal, and that he “felt like a contestant on America’s Next Top Model who made it into the final two” as he got closer to nailing the hosting gig. “I was like, ‘I really, really want this every moment it gets closer and I want it so bad but you look like a big gay Jesus, girl, you’re just not gonna get this job!'”
To no one’s surprise (except, perhaps, his own) Van Ness got the role, and it wasn’t long before he turned into a major force within the media world. Here’s a look at what he’s been up to, both before and since.
Let’s start at the roots of JVN’s career—literally.
Jonathan Van Ness attended The University of Arizona on a partial cheerleading scholarship and then dropped out after one semester to pursue his real passion: hair styling. After graduating from the Aveda Institute in Minneapolis in 2006, he worked for a few different salons in California and St. Louis before opening up a Sola Studio salon with his friend Monique Northrop in 2013.
His advice for starting your own successful hairdressing career? In an interview for the Sola Studios blog, JVN notes that “people are starving for authenticity so don’t do generic things like posting what you think people want. Be yourself. Be authentic.”
JVN continues to shine bright as the host of Queer Eye. He’s also parlayed his TV skills into guest spots on other shows, including Big Mouth, I Love the 2000s, and Nailed It!, and he recently appeared on the Sarah Cooper special Everything’s Fine.
If you wish that JVN was there to travel along with you wherever you go, you’re in luck. His podcast, Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness, is one of the leading society and culture series on Apple Podcasts, currently boasting 4.9 stars with nearly 18,000 ratings.
In it, Van Ness talks with experts in a variety of fields about anything and everything he’s curious about, from early Chinese culture, Black motherhood, and the rights of domestic workers to figure skating, cat parenting, and whether or not we should be terrified of snakes (short answer: some of them, but not all).
You can listen to Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness wherever you get your podcasts, and there are currently more than 200 episodes (and counting) to keep you busy.
JVN is a two-time author. Over the Top: A Raw Journey to Self-Love is Jonathan’s autobiography that was published in 2019 and quickly became a New York Times bestseller. In it, JVN recounts his early life and his path to stardom, as well as his experience getting diagnosed as HIV-positive—and learning to survive and thrive through it all.
The second Jonathan Van Ness book is Peanut Goes for the Gold, a picture book for readers of all ages that tells the story of Peanut, a non-binary guinea pig based on his childhood pet who, against all odds, pursues his talent for rhythmic gymnastics. The book came out in 2020, and the same year Van Ness partnered with No Kid Hungry on their #savewithstories initiative, where he did a virtual reading of Peanut Goes for the Gold to support the many children in need of meals during the coronavirus pandemic.
Where to Find More JVN
Can’t get enough Jonathan Van Ness? We feel you! Fortunately, JVN is everywhere these days, including right here on Skillshare.
Here are some other ways to stay connected:
- Follow Jonathan Van Ness on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter
- Visit JVN’s website, jonathanvanness.com
- Subscribe to Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness on Apple Podcasts or wherever else you listen
- Check out some of his recent press, including a discussion with Elton John about HIV+ activism for Out Magazine, an interview with The New Yorker, and a feature in Variety’s Power of Pride 2020 List
Start your Self Care Journey with JVN
Discover stories and strategies from Jonathan Van Ness to help unlock your best self.