By Neil Woulfe - Radar Senior News Director
Michael Buckley has big dreams and an even bigger personality -- and now, this Internet sensation has gone mainstream.
This week, the extremely exuberant and bubbly Buckley served as a special co-host of Live! With Kelly after winning Live's Coast-to-Coast Co-Host Search, which gave one lucky viewer the unique opportunity to sit next to Ripa for one day on the hit syndicated talk show.
Buckley -- an openly gay YouTube sensation, comedian and vlogger who lives in Connecticut with his husband -- beat out thousands of Live! viewers who submitted a 60-second video to make their case for why they should win the chance to co-host with Ripa.
Winning the contest was a dream come true for the hilarious 37-year-old Buckley, who hosts a widely popular celebrity news show on YouTube called What The Buck?! and aspires for a career in television. (He's obviously now well on his way!)
RadarOnline.com chatted with this rising star about what it was like to sit next to Ripa this past Tuesday and what the future holds for him.
Radar: Literally THOUSANDS of people submitted tapes for the guest co-host gig -- so what was your reaction when you found out you made the top 5?
Michael: I was so happy! I knew I had a lot of people voting, so I was hoping to hear my name! I was thrilled and excited!
Radar: You had some pretty stiff competition going into the final five competition -- did you have a special strategy?
Michael: I really wanted to be present in each moment. Being on a live talk show does not allow much prep time, so I wanted to make sure I was present in the moment and able to do and enjoy any challenge that they gave us. They gave us a challenge on air and we had about 15 minutes to plan. I had note cards and post-its ready, and planned as much as I could while making sure I was not over-prepared, so I could be ready for anything.
Radar: Of all the finalists, you certainly had the biggest personality. (And I mean that in a GREAT way.) Did you ever consider toning yourself down a little to perhaps appeal to a wider audience? Or did you make a conscious decision to simply be yourself?
Michael: That is a good question! In a way, I was toned down from my YouTube personality. But during the challenges, I only had 60 seconds, so I had to go for it with as much energy as I could. I am a very happy person, a very enthusiastic person, for life, for anything! I think that is a good quality! When people first see me on YouTube, they often think I am too much, but then they soon realize I am just a happy nice guy having the time of my life and they grow to enjoy watching me! I am very comfortable with myself and enjoy being myself. I think if you saw me on a 60-minute show daily, you would see many sides to me, but what can I say, I have a lot of joy!
Radar: What was the moment like when you learned you actually WON the competition?
Michael: Exciting! Relief! Pride! I alternated from jumping up and down and crying! It was strange because it was Thursday when we taped, so I couldn't tell anyone until the show aired on Friday. I was excited to have a few days to just celebrate and enjoy the moment!
Radar: You are Kelly seemed to have great chemistry on-camera. What was she like behind-the-scenes?
Michael: Kelly Ripa was everything and more you would want her to be! Warm. Hilarious. Generous. Kind. I couldn't come up with enough adjectives to describe how wonderful she was to me and to every single person who comes into that studio. It is a really fun taping to be at! The audience has a lot of fun and she interacts a lot with them during the breaks. We hit it off instantly and we were totally comfortable with each other right away, which I think showed on camera.
Radar: During the show, you had some fun segments, like interviewing Will Ferrell and one particularly not-so-fun segment -- eating some really disgusting foods, including duck testicles! What was the worst thing you took a bite of?
Michael: Oh man! I would have mopped the floor if they asked me to. I was there to do anything they wanted! I knew I would be eating strange things. I tried not to think about it ahead of time. The worst thing I put in my mouth was that clam. I immediately spit it out because I knew I would have puked! It was all pretty gross but it turned out to be a great and hilarious segment for me, so I wouldn't have it any other way!
Radar: What surprised you the most about co-hosting Live!?
Michael: I guess that I wasn't nervous at all. The moment I walked on the set, I felt totally comfortable and at home! That was a nice surprise that it just felt natural and great!
Radar: You certainly are getting a lot of attention from your appearances on Live! Have you been contacted by any talent agents?
Michael: I actually do have a talent agent. I had gotten one earlier this year when I realized I wanted to start doing more TV.
Radar: What's the next step for you, and what is ultimately your dream job?
Michael: It's funny because any full time YouTuber like me will tell you that we are living our dream job! It doesn't get much better than this. Making your own schedule, controlling your own content, being your own boss, and making your own sponsorship deals. It is a nice life being a YouTuber!!!! But from 2008-2011, I was in the "I am a YouTuber, leave me alone - I make enough money - I don't want to leave my house" mind set. But now in 2012 - I have put out to the universe that I want to be on TV so things are starting to happen. In a dream world I would be Live with Kelly's co-host every morning, have my own show on Bravo in the evening and of course still making videos on YouTube! I think I can have it all!
Radar: Even though your gig on 'Live!' just ended, people can still catch you on your YouTube channel 'What The Buck?!' Tell us about that.
Michael: Yes! Thank you! I have been doing What the Buck?! since 2006 on YouTube! It is celebrity gossip and entertainment news -- there's more emphasis on me making silly jokes than reporting on things. I also have a personal YouTube channel where I do advice and more behind-the-scenes vlogging.
Radar: Finally, you really are a great role model for young people -- especially teens who may be struggling with their sexuality -- in that you are living your life on your terms and simply being yourself. What would you say to young people who might feel that they don't fit in?
Michael: Thank you so much. Much of my audience on YouTube is young people who do not accept themselves and I always tell them, the best thing they can be is themselves. I grew up not knowing any gay people and I am proud to know that I am the first gay person a lot of them are seeing. YouTube is a great place for anyone to practice being themselves! It is a lovely community of people who talk about anything from Harry Potter to what blush they are wearing that day to their sexuality and if you look around YouTube -- you will find people who are JUST LIKE YOU and leading happy awesome lives! Don't be afraid to be happy! Don't think you have to have a stressful coming out process! Don't worry so much about fitting in -- just make sure you fit in with YOURSELF and what you want in the world! Sorry I could go on and on about this type of stuff! I appreciate you asking that!