Tan France Was Asked If He Was a 'Terrorist' While Shooting First Season of 'Queer Eye'

Tan France
Greg Doherty/Getty Images

Tan France attends the Mercedez-Benz USA's Official Awards Viewing Party at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on March 4, 2018 in Los Angeles.

In the last three months, the world has come to know and love each of the Fab Five from Neftlix’s reboot of Queer Eye. A consistent fan favorite is Tan France, the show’s fashion expert who is able to let schlubby men know that they don’t look great while also constantly building up their sense of self-worth.

But in a recent interview with Refinery29, France revealed that his job wasn’t always as easy as it looked. Speaking to the outlet for their women-led program “Strong Opinions Loosely Held,” France said that he experienced a dose of Islamophobia from two of the show’s subjects.

“I was asked if I was a terrorist because they didn’t realize I was Middle Eastern,” he said. “Two of our heroes asked, 'Are you a terrorist?' and it was a very honest question for them. They weren’t trying to be funny.”

The style guru went on to say, however, that he didn’t get angry or upset with the two “heroes” when they asked. “Our show is about bridging these divides and we are meeting with a lot of Republicans and this isn’t meant to be a liberals vs. conservative show at all,” he said. “But it gives us an opportunity to have a very open conversation.”

France said that moment did not eventually make it into the show because there were more pressing issues to discuss at the time, including the Black Lives Matter movement. “Maybe we can talk about Islamophobia next season! But those kinds of questions are real for people,” he said.

But that wasn’t the only time that racial discrimination came to the show’s forefront. As fans may remember, at the start of the first season’s third episode, “Dega Don’t,” the Fab Five were pulled over by a police officer with Karamo Brown in the driver’s seat.

France recalls him and the rest of the group becoming very concerned about Brown’s safety in that moment. “The police officer says, ‘He has to get out of the car,’ and Jonathan is like, 'I just don’t want him to get shot.' Rightly so,” he said. “When you step out of the car, that spells trouble. … Yes the camera crew knew what was happening. We didn’t, so as far [as] we [were] concerned, trouble was afoot.”

Ultimately, the traffic stop is revealed to be a setup for the show to introduce us to the nominator of that episode’s subject, Cory. But France says after the cameras cut, he and Brown were very unhappy. “We were fuming, saying, ‘This can never happen again. This wasn’t OK. You don’t know what it feels like to be a person of color and get pulled over,’” he said. France even added that he and Brown threatened to not return to set the next day. “We didn’t want to film the next day. We were like, 'We’re done. That’s it.'”

Eventually, France, Brown and the producers made nice and made the rest of the episode happen. “Thankfully it turned out great in the end because it’s a conversation that needs to be had.”

Watch France’s full interview with Refinery29 below:


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