Connor Franta shot to internet stardom as a YouTube personality. Since launching his channel in 2010, Franta, who was born and raised in Minnesota but moved to Los Angeles in 2013, has amassed more than 20 million followers across his social platforms. Franta, 29, is also a writer, a photographer and an LGBTQ advocate. His new and third book, “House Fires,” is a collection of essays, photos and poems about dating, sex, relationships and his struggles with depression.
I caught up with Franta at Sightglass Coffee in Los Angeles.
How did you come up with the title of the book?
It’s something that’s completely comforting — a home — but then something that’s destructive, a fire. Life is essentially a series of house fires, where you’re building yourself up to some position, and then, it sounds sad, but you burn it down and you move on to the next thing.
What was the most challenging subject to tackle in the book?
Depression, and the ultimate darkest side of that is suicidal thoughts. Even though I’ve never been one to feel like I would ever act on those, it’s funny how that’s still something present in my darkest moments. Writing about it was a way to let people know that thoughts aren’t real, what’s in your head doesn’t have to be your reality.
How do you cope when that stuff does come up?
I do a lot of running. I do a lot of walking. I’m like a grandpa because right when the sun is going down, I go for a good three-mile walk every night. Maybe I’ll call a friend and just talk. I also go for a five- to 13-mile run every morning. It brings me to a point where, even if I get knocked down, I’m still high and it helps me not get lower.
Is there another platform you want to explore next?
I’m desperate to write or direct a short film. I would love to do something that has nothing to do with being about me. I’ve spent a decade talking about myself. I’m exhausted. There’s only so much you could say.
Who inspires you right now?
It’s people like Tyler the Creator. People who care about step one to step 1,000. It’s people who are involved with the whole process. I love what Donald Glover makes. Same with Michaela Coel.
Who’s someone who slipped into your DMs and you couldn’t believe it?
A friend of a friend knows [fashion designer] Hedi Slimane, and he said to me, “He’d love to have dinner with you.” I went and it was so fucking cool.
You started on YouTube. Do you ever look at apps like TikTok now and think, “I’m too old for that?”
I think where people go wrong is where they try to keep up and then it becomes disingenuous. Like I don’t think it makes too much sense for me to be up there doing dancing TikToks, but maybe it make more sense for me to social commentary TikToks.