Tyler Henry came out twice: first as gay and second as a spiritual medium, the latter of which he says was harder.
At 22, Henry says his sixth sense, not to be confused with the film of the same name, allows him to communicate “messages from the other side,” something that began at just 10 years old. It’s a claim that’s led to his memoir “Between Two Worlds,” multiple seasons of E!’s “Hollywood Medium with Tyler Henry” and “5 Life Lessons I’ve Learned from the Departed,” his national tour.
Watermark spoke with Henry ahead of his shows in Clearwater June 21 and Orlando June 22 about his claims, his critics and “reading” celebrities like RuPaul.
WATERMARK: You’re described as an evidential-based and clairvoyant medium. How would you explain that to readers who may not be familiar with the terms?
TYLER HENRY: As a medium I consider myself to be a spiritual medium, which is basically someone who communicates messages from the other side, and by the other side I mean the afterlife. My goal is really just to communicate messages and specifics and details to the people I meet.
The goal is really just to provide validation: validation that there’s more to life than what we see and validation that our loved ones are still around. The way that I do that is the information that I bring forward is specific and detailed and for me. It really has to hit the nail on the head in order to know that I’ve made a connection. That’s really how it kind of works.
What’s your process like for conducting a reading?
So the process is kind of interesting. It’s not like “The Sixth Sense,” I don’t see dead people walking around. If anything I actually really pick up on subtle impressions, so I always say that my sixth sense uses the other five senses to communicate.
So when I do a reading, I basically kind of calm my mind and quiet it and I’m just super aware of any changes that go on in my mind or my body. So for example, I might get a physical sensation that corresponds to how someone passed away. I might get a smell, I might hear a noise, I might get an emotional feeling or a feeling of a “knowingness” of a message, and I basically kind of have to communicate all of the changes that go on in a way that make sense and a way that can be validated. So it’s a lot going on.
Was it always a goal of yours to share your story this way?
I definitely knew that I wanted to share it but I didn’t know to what extent. Growing up at 10 years old is when I first had this initial premonition that led me down this path. When I was 16 years old I graduated high school early and my goal was to become a hospice nurse, because I knew that I could share this and could help people who really needed it.
So when I went into college to try to become a hospice nurse, I was doing readings on the side to supplement paying for going to school. Before I knew it I basically just was inundated with requests for readings. Within about a year I had to make the decision of either meeting the demand of the readings or staying in school, and obviously I chose the readings because I think I could still achieve the same thing I wanted to do in hospice but in a larger way.
What led you to E!?
Well, it was interesting, it actually kind of fell in my lap through word of mouth. I grew up in Central California which is culturally like worlds away from Southern California. It’s really conservative and agricultural-based; it’s really not entertainment-oriented. But within that year, word of mouth started spreading and people were more open minded in L.A.
I started finding that more clients would call me from that area and my first celebrity client was Sarah Paulson, and that was I think when I was like 17 with a reading done over the phone. One thing kind of led to another and before I knew it I was reading both celebrities and non-celebrities.
Do you have a preference?
I prefer non-celebrities. I prefer everyday people, they’re just easier to read… there’s a lot less out about them, so there tends to be less skepticism and I just like to share it with everyday people I think the most.
But celebrities are unique and they also have their own benefits, being able to read them, because I think I really get to bring an awareness of what I do to the fan bases of those celebrities. And that can be really influential as well, so, pretty cool.
Do you have any favorite interactions that stick out to you?
Oh my gosh, so many. For the show we’ve done over 176 now, but what comes to mind is actually my reading with RuPaul. RuPaul was amazing and I was a huge fan of him. When he finally opened the door I was just shocked, because I never know where I’m going or who I’m reading. I really kind of had a bit of a fan-girl moment. He’s someone that I really looked up to growing up.
To me he just represents being yourself and being yourself unapologetically. He was really very helpful when I was growing up and coming to terms with all of this. So to finally meet him and connect him to his dad that had passed away was just so emotional and so connective. We actually randomly made chocolate after the reading, RuPaul and I. So that’s a pretty cool memory.
You’ve said you had two coming outs: one as a gay man and one as a medium. Was one harder than the other?
I think honestly probably being a medium was a bit more difficult. I just think because it was more of a prominent part of my life than being gay. Being gay is a part of me and it’s a part that’s applicable to my relationships, but being a medium is something that effects my entire life in a very visible way, regardless of who I’m interacting with.
It’s what I do for a living, it’s what people think of me as; and so that really was kind of an integral part of my identity that I couldn’t hide or keep private. So I think being a medium was definitely more challenging to kind of come out of the closet in that regard, but it really paid off. I think if anything it taught me the importance of being true to who we are… because when we are, that can move mountains and really can be our calling. I think it was a very important lesson.
How do you deal with skeptics and critics who question your motivations or authenticity?
I think readings really speak for themselves. I’ve done over 1,000 private readings and 200 on camera. I find that those who tend to be critical of what I do have never met me and have never actually received a reading. So in that regard I tend to not feel the need to defend myself with those people. I really find that I can only focus on helping the people that I can help and the people that seek me out to receive my services.
I understand that it’s not for everybody, but I just am really trying to recreate what people think of when they think of a medium by putting such an emphasis on validation and specifics and details. I know that I can’t win everyone over but my goal is to help the people that I can.
Is that what helped launch your tour, that desire?
Definitely. I love being able to just interact with anyone in regards to doing a reading. I think on some level that people saw me reading celebrities and assumed that was my entire clientele… when the reality is that celebrities are just a very small portion of my clientele. So to be able to bring it on the road and travel places like Florida and read thousands of people has been really fun. It’s definitely a new experience every time.
What’s been your favorite part about touring?
I’d say the readings. I love being able to share the lessons that I’ve learned as a result of this work. I do feel it’s an important part of the process, because people – at the time that they receive the readings at the event – have a deeper understanding of my story and how I work, which is really important.
But seeing the lives that have been changed through the tour and the readings that happen is just so special. Just all the synchronicities, the people feeling like they were meant to show up that day for a reason and they happen to receive a reading… moments like that have really been special and even more validating for me as a medium.
You have a best-selling book, your tour and your show. What do you see going forward in your career?
The goal is just to continue spreading this message and helping people. I’m thankful with the show that we’ve been able to reach over 153 countries and it’s been incredible. I’m really hoping for more of that, fingers-crossed for Season 4 soon. We’re in pre-production, so we’ll see.
It’s been amazing and I’m really excited for that. To continue touring, maybe I’ll take it international; I feel like that would be really fun… and I am currently working on a second book, so I have a lot going on.