"The mind is a muscle you flex. If you don’t decide to use your mind, it will use you."
Levi Kreis on Success, Spirituality, Leather & his New Album
It’s not everyday we get a Tony Award winner join our RightOutTV family - Congrats on all of your success, we hope you know how proud the LGBT community is of you!
You are currently on tour with new releases so tell us how it’s going so far?
Thanks for asking. It’s a ton of work for sure. I feel like I’ve been on a non-stop trajectory for two years leading up to this new release on June 20th. Part of me is looking forward to a moments rest, but at the same time I’m so excited to re-visit my fans on the road. “So Much Better”, the first single from the new album Imagine Paradise, has been receiving support from my own community, and it has been the catalyst for me reconnecting with many of my LGBT media friends. I’ve been out of the loop for a bit.
We love the line in your bio that talks about winning your Tony Award for Million Dollar Quartet, you said, “If forced me to throw out all the old stories and choose to bet on myself”. Do you think that many artists carry those kind of insecurities and self-sabotaging beliefs and do you still have them sneak up on you?
Great question! I think it is an inherent part of our humanhood to fall susceptible to fear of inadequacy. We all hear those stories in our head and hopefully we are all learning to not believe them as often. I do have them sneak up on me. I look at it the same way I would look at working out my body. The mind is a muscle you flex. If you don’t decide to use your mind, it will use you. In other words, if we do not use the creative power of our thoughts intentionally, old habits, old memories, and old life-denying thoughts continue their pattern. Becoming an observer of our thoughts and choosing differently is nothing more than a muscle you flex. And it’s a process that always continues and evolves. I try to advise myself to spend some amount of time everyday remembering the intentional Divine creation that I am. From that space, life is way less self-consumed and dramatic. LOL.
In 2010, Levi was presented with the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor In A Musical for his portrayal of Jerry Lee Lewis in the Broadway hit Million Dollar Quartet.
Levi appeared on television shows including The View, David Letterman and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.
How did your world change after winning your Tony and being showcased on shows like David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon?
I am not sure that it did honestly. The experience itself gave me more faith in my self and my skills, but life continues to carry on like anybody else I guess. We all cherish great moments, and then move on to create the next form of expression. I’m not one to rest on previous accomplishments. I’m also not one to aggressively exploit a moment like that to attain a higher level of recognition or fame. That’s a hamster wheel that never ends. I trust that when people in the business desire to work with someone incredibly reliable, hard working, and well rounded, they know I’m a great option. And it doesn’t hurt that they now know I’m proven. ;-)
Can you tell us about your new CD? What can your fans expect to hear?
They will hear the expression of a man who has arrived at a happy place in his life. I know heartbreak sells, and it fueled my best selling album One Of The Ones, but there is a joy in my music that is a result to my personal commitment to concepts like self acceptance, self love, and imagining my life in the biggest way possible. They will also hear a sound that modernizes some classic late 70’s early 80’s moments in music. As a songwriter and co-producer, it is what I’m most proud of. The album ends in a strategic place too, setting me up to live in a classic R&B space for future recordings.
Does writing music come easy to you?
It’s getting easier as I learn to accept the pace at which the creative inspiration comes to me. I think it’s easy to get blocked when we start wanting to control how and when the flow comes out of us. It’s a tricky dance; one that requires fierce attention but delicate handling. The more I understand the nature of creativity, the more enjoyable the process is. This new album that comes out in June was a really fun experience.
Do you find that after achieving a certain amount of success, being gay is more of an issue or less of an issue?
It’s tough to say. I am trying very hard recently to drop the whole idea of success as it relates to a value system of validation, recognition, and fame. Carrying that as your core intention is exhausting as no one can ever reach that point where you really believe “I’ve landed”. I do try to be a good businessman and making money through your music isn’t always synonymous with fame. I imagine it’s quite probably that I would have “corporate muscle” behind me if I were straight. I try not to think along those lines though. I am what God made me and I’ll be damned if God leave me high and dry. We’re here for a purpose. I like to think the universe fully supports that which it has decided to create.
Can we talk about your personal life – Are you with someone right now and what do you believe is the secret to a great relationship?
Gosh. Honesty I think. I think creating a space where it’s okay to say how you feel at all times is paramount. My partner and I also love the book “The Four Agreements”. Our favorite is “Don’t Take Things Personally”. Great one! Great to live by and great in building a relationship. 9 times out of 10 what the other person is saying or doing is not about YOU, but about their own story of what something is. Not taking it personally and talking honestly…great combo!
It seems that despite your move away from your Christian upbringing, you still have strong spiritual beliefs that translate into your music. Tell us about how those beliefs have changed.
I consider myself a hodge-podge of many things, but I have recently devoted my studies to New Thought Christianity. I guess the biggest differences I would have with an old school Christian would be encountered when comparing my metaphysical interpretation of Scripture to their literal interpretation. We would have a couple of fundamental differences around the concept of original sin and what Jesus was here to accomplish. I try not to go deeply into differences as this world is in dire need of discussion that accentuates what we have in common. And there are beautiful common threads that run through every major world religion.
What is something we may not know about you?
Let’s see… I actually am a very unsocial person. I love staying to myself for days in a totally silent house. I don’t check my phone for days sometimes. What I do calls for a remarkable degree of social engagement so I tend to be the extreme opposite when I’m not “on”. It’s not that who I am with people is inauthentic, but my closest friends know that I prefer to be the one sitting and listening in a small crowd, and can go a whole dinner party and not say a word. And I hate talking about career crap when I’m “off the clock”. Oh here is a good one...just for RightOutTV! Secret confession: I am totally infatuated with our leather community, though I never get to socialize with them. I love the camaraderie, the political and social awareness, and of course the beautiful male bonding that expresses itself in such intensely beautiful ways. I think I’m a leather boy at heart, I just haven’t found out how that fits into my life yet, and frankly it’s a bit scary for me. I suppose that’s my next coming out. LOL.
You have accomplished so much but what secret dreams do you still have left that you want to reach?
At some point in life it would be wonderful to be a series regular on an incredible HBO or Showtime show: something like Six Feet Under with great writing, riveting characters, and an unusual plot. How fun that would be!
If you were to describe your true self in 5 words, what would they be?