Eugene Lee Yang, famous for being one-fourth of the Try Guys, took the trek from California to Kansas on Monday to speak with students about his creative pursuits, existing outside of the box the world tries to put people in and his favorite projects. The Union Program Council hosted Yang on Monday night at Forum Hall in the Union.
Yang is a filmmaker, actor, author, director, producer, activist and celebrity. He is best known for his work with the Try Guys, a youtube channel where Eugene and his friends try new things for their audience’s enjoyment. He is also known for his work with Buzzfeed.
Despite Yang’s visit to Kansas State marking his first-ever trip to Kansas, he spoke of his love for the Midwest and the South throughout the night.
Yang gave the audience glimpses into his upcoming projects.
“The news will finally break next week, but it’s animated related,” Yang said. “And I identify a certain way, and it has something to do with that.”
Yang was not cryptic with all of the projects he mentioned. He explained how he is also creating a fantasy duology, a two-part book series.
“I sold a queer novel duology that I have been working on for a long time,” Yang said. “I will be working on edits for the next several years. But I love anything that has to do with fantasy and high courts, elves and dragons. It is because the genre is inherently queer.”
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Yang talked a lot about his adventures with the Try Guys — from trying on women’s underwear to climbing glaciers in Alaska — along with some of his other favorite projects, such as his coming out video with over 20 million views on Youtube.
“I would say the coming out video was pretty special,” Yang said. “It was both a return to what I naturally do as a filmmaker and also just a weird moment in my life where I was in a rare space where I felt safe and secure in my identity.”
Dawson Wagner, senior in journalism and mass communications, filmed the event through his job at Wildcat Watch and thought the night was positive.
“The crowd was so affirming, lots of positivity and good vibes that were going around,” Wagner said. “I think Lil Kim Chi, one of the local drag queens, was also in the audience so that just made it even more of a meaningful night for those who are LGBTQ+. Eugene represents the community very well on the world stage.”
Taylor Stevens, junior in strategic communications and employee at Wildcat Watch, said she agreed with Wagner and enjoyed Yang’s genuine interest in what life is like in Kansas and learning about his work as a filmmaker.
“I’ve always liked the humor and rewatch-ability of his content,” Stevens said. “Even his more serious projects like his coming out video were incredibly interesting, and he told a story through it. As a video producer myself, it was inspiring to have someone like Eugene here at K-State and see how he started off in Texas to now walking red carpets in Los Angeles.”
Wagner and Stevens had the opportunity to meet Yang individually.
“Meeting Eugene was cool: he was super sweet and interacted with several people,” Stevens said. “He joked with me about how he drew someone a picture of Pikachu, and they were ruining it by adding to the drawing. Little things like that made him seem genuine and kind.”
As Yang’s last parting advice of the evening, he said to mess up in your twenties, exist outside of the box and that “life is not a straight line like Kansas freeways.”
Tate Fox, senior in political communications and vice president of membership for UPC, is excited for the UPC to continue hosting large-scale events – as this was the first one post-pandemic.
“I am just excited to have more large-scale campus events since COVID finally,” Fox said. “I am excited to get the ball rolling heading into next school year.”
Ivy Bogle, graduate student in hospitality management and CEO of the Co-Entertainment Fund at UPC, suggests students watch for an email coming from UPC soon to submit preferences on who they would like to see UPC bring next year.
“We are a program that puts on events for students by students, so anyone that wants to get involved, go to our website,” Bogle said. “We have events basically happening every week.”