'Queer Eye' star Karamo Brown shares his biggest career setback — and how he turned rejection into a personal win

Courtesy of Karamo Brown
  • The fourth season of the popular Netflix show ‘Queer Eye’ premieres Friday, July 19.
  • Karamo Brown, one of the show’s stars, told Business Insider how he turned his biggest career setback (initially getting rejected from the show) into a major win.
  • After Netflix first told Brown he couldn’t audition, he urged the casting agent to give him one more chance and believe in him.
  • Brown says learning to love yourself helps you turn job rejections into career wins.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Karamo Brown almost never made it to “Queer Eye.”

The Netflix star and social worker opened up to Business Insider about his biggest career setback, which ended up turning into a personal win: getting told no to an audition for “Queer Eye.”

By the time Brown told his agent he wanted to audition for the series (a reboot of the makeover show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”) that eventually solidified his celebrity status, they had already closed casting.

The former “Real World: Philadelphia” star said he felt disappointed, and was tempted to accept that he missed out on a major career opportunity.


Read more:
11 tips to help you move on from a job rejection

“Instead, I used it as a stepping stone to say, ‘Let’s figure out what else we can do,'” Brown told Business Insider.

His agent, Taylor Kroos, and other people on his team continued to pitch Brown to Netflix execs. According to Bustle, Brown managed to score a phone interview with a casting agent where he had to sell himself as the “culture expert” (as opposed to the food, style, grooming, and interior decorating experts on the show).

“I wanted to make sure the process felt authentic to me – the same thing I wanted for the show,” Brown wrote in his memoir, “Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing, and Hope.” “Then came the question, ‘What does culture mean to you?’ Without hesitation, I answered proudly, ‘I am culture.'”

The star said the secret to keeping yourself from getting discouraged by career setbacks is to turn “fear-based thoughts” to “love-based thoughts.” Brown says when you think solely about negative outcomes or your perceived flaws, you “fear” putting yourself out there in case you get rejected.

Instead, Brown encourages “love-based thinking” that can motivate you to think more positively and not take “no” as an outright rejection. Experts also say the key to moving past job rejections is to not let them impact your self-confidence.

“That’s how you start to switch your mindset,” he said. “Anytime you tell yourself that this job is not going to work…you turn that into ‘I will have it because I’ve shown myself love, and I’m a good person.’ You switch your thoughts into something better.”

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