As the co-host of BUILD Brunch, Verizon Media’s morning show, Lukas Thimm is like the real-life protagonist from Nickelodeon’s iCarly. Happenstance gave him a voice, and now he uses it to discuss hot-button issues. Whether he’s discussing the latest in entertainment or political hot topics, Lukas doesn’t shy away from bringing his personality and views to the table. His inspirations range from Madonna to Hillary Clinton, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that Lukas is equally comfortable talking about the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ reunions and the US presidential election.
Lukas’ dream is to one day have his own show. As far as we can tell, that day won’t be far, so don’t say we didn’t tell you when you see him interviewing celebrities on a major network.
Your bio on the BUILD Series’ website states that up until very recently, you were “picking up lunches and coffees for the rich and famous of Beverly Hills.” How did you make the move from being an assistant to cohosting your own show on YouTube?
The transition was surprising and fast. One of my best friends from college texted me about a show he was producing for BUILD Series that, as he described it, would be the millennial version of The View. Coincidentally, I was looking to move back to New York and hopefully get a job as a writer’s assistant on a late-night show. My friend knew that I loved pop culture and politics and asked if I wanted to be a producer on the show. I jokingly responded with, “Can I host it?” He basically said, “Why not?!” and then I sent him a video of me and a packet of topical jokes and the rest is history.
I moved back to New York within three weeks of getting the job and with no guarantee that I would last on the show past the summer of 2018. I’ve always loved talking to people and making them laugh, which my teachers did not appreciate because I often disrupted class, so the idea of being a talk show host was always a dream. Cut to the present: the producers have kept me around for the show’s entire run! Perhaps they find my extensive knowledge of Real Housewives useful? Who knows? As a middle child, the fact that I get to be on camera every weekday is a Godsend and is making up for the lack of attention I received growing up.
What is something on your resume that you’re really proud of?
Honestly, I’m so proud of being a part of BUILD Brunch. I took a risk and was given an incredible opportunity to put myself out there. BUILD Brunch streams on YouTube and on Verizon Media’s platforms (HuffPost, Yahoo, AOL, Build Series), so we are literally all over the Internet, which was intimidating at first.
I’ve learned how to read a teleprompter, which is not rocket science, but reading out loud on camera can be hard! I’ve helped produce segments, write jokes, and facilitate discussions that were either hilarious or really insightful. I’m very passionate about politics, so whenever I get the chance to explain a policy like Elizabeth Warren’s debt-free college plan or make fun of Trump, I feel very fulfilled.
Often, an episode of BUILD Brunch can become a therapy session for me to vent about anything from the missteps of Big Little Lies to our immediate need to stop climate change, so the viewers have become my friends and therapists.
Some of the viewers may be bots from Russia, but I love them all the same. I’ve even performed a (fake) exorcism on one of my co-hosts and, as someone who once wanted to be the Pope, that was a big deal for me! I really love getting to interview interesting people and learning about the projects they’re working on. Whether it is Erika Jayne from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills or activist Nadya Okamoto, I have really enjoyed getting to meet people who influence our culture.
You’re very open about your views and you never shy away from sharing details about your personal life. Is there anything that’s off the table for you?
I’m pretty much an open book, especially after a drink or two, which is often the case when I overshare on the show. My favourite days at work are when we have a bartender making us drinks.
Here’s some advice: find yourself a job that allows you to drink during the day! I’m kidding….mostly.
I try not to share anything that will affect any person in a negative away. I want to be as authentic as possible, but I have learned to remember that other people in my life may not find certain experiences as funny as I do.
This past year has been a hugely transformative one for me in my personal life, so when moments come up that require me to speak about my journey, I try to share as much as possible in hopes that someone out there can identify with me and perhaps feel inspired… or at least feel “normal” because they’re probably not as weird as I am.
When it comes to my views, I want to be as respectful as possible to people who may disagree with me, but when one political party is supporting the detainment of migrant children and blatant racist statements from the United States President, I can’t stay silent and won’t mince my words. I also have strong opinions on the final season of Game of Thrones….BRAN! REALLY?! BRAN!
What do you find the most challenging aspect of your job?
My co-hosts and I all have IFBs in our ears, so when a producer is talking to us, we have to pretend that we aren’t hearing anything and are still engaged in the conversation. If we acknowledge the producer in our ears, then we look like we are crazy people listening to the voices in our heads!
Sometimes, I have had a hard time staying engaged in the conversation while also thinking about what I want to say next. I want to stay in the moment so I can react to a joke or a bit, but I also want to be prepared to say a fact such as the exact amount of penises HBO cut out from a scene in Euphoria. They cut out 80, in case you were wondering.
Is there someone, famous or not, who you look up to and who has inspired your path?
I am truly inspired by so many people! Basically, every current late-night host inspires me, but I’m not going to list them out of fear I may forget one and then get blacklisted.
I don’t think your readers want to read about how much I love my mom because she’s not famous, though she’s a star to me!
The two most influential famous figures in my life are Madonna and Hillary Clinton, two women who have nothing to do with comedy writing or hosting, but who have inspired me to pursue my dreams. I have been a Madonna fan since I was six years old, and over the years I have looked to the Queen of Pop for inspiration when it comes to accepting and celebrating my uniqueness as well as harnessing my ambition. Secretary Clinton has been a guiding light to me, especially in recent years, and has helped me through difficult times just by being her resilient self. She has motivated me to be politically engaged and to find ways to inform and bring people together. They are two very different women, but I look to both of them as I continue down this very weird path I am calling a “career.”
I also really love Tina Fey. She’s incredible!
A recent study found that American kids would much rather be YouTubers than astronauts. What advice would you give to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
Well, have you seen the film Gravity?! The second I saw Sandra Bullock floating around in space, I thought, “there is not enough money in the world to get me to go to space… and I’m going to make a YouTube series!”
Okay, so maybe I didn’t think the last part, but I understand the lure of YouTube. YouTubers are able to gain legions of young followers by making content that is fun and honest. The influence YouTubers have amazes me. I am pretty sure one of them can sway a presidential election! I actually am in the process of finishing a scripted web series called Best Friends Give the Worst Advice that I co-wrote and co-star in with my best friend, Elle Vertes.
What I learned from that process and from BUILD Brunch, is that being your authentic self will enable you to make work that you are proud of and that will resonate with viewers. Don’t try to fit into a mold that society thinks is more acceptable or that people may think is “cool” or hip” – or whatever kids are saying these days.
Be yourself and make content that you have always wanted to make.
We live in a time where technology has stripped down the barriers of entry and allowed people to make content from the comfort of their couches. If you want to make a video series of you eating cupcakes, do it! Actually, that sounds amazing. Don’t do it, that’s now my thing!
What’s the worst advice you have ever received? What about the best one?
I had an informational meeting with an agent at a big talent agency in Los Angeles and she told me that it was too late for me to become a writer. I was 22 and hadn’t even graduated from college yet. This agent overemphasized the importance of following one career path and working within the system to get to the “top of the pyramid.” As you can imagine, I peed a little during that meeting and left scared and deflated.
Thankfully, the next day I had another informational with an agent, but this time at CAA, who told me that there is no one path in the entertainment business and that I should be willing to take risks and follow creative urges when I have them. He was right.
Also, when I was an assistant months later, I once gave my boss the wrong type of spoon for her soup. I never made that mistake again. Point is, serve the right spoon to your boss!
Where do you look for inspiration these days?
The best part about living in the cesspool that is New York City, is that inspiration is everywhere! Kidding aside, I love New York because it immerses people fully into the environment and forces them to interact with each other.
I make an effort to walk around the city and ride the subway without my headphones on so I can overhear conversations about annoying boyfriends, or witness fights between two elderly gentlemen playing chess, or defend myself against the overly aggressive squirrels in Washington Square Park. New York City is full of inspiration!
Also, my grandmother is a mix of Carmela Soprano and Lucille Bluth. She gives me new material every day.
Is there anything you haven’t done yet that’s on your vision board? Do you even have a vision board?
I don’t have a vision board, but I am one anxiety attack away from gluing pictures on my wall and connecting them with a red string like Carrie Mathison in Homeland. My ultimate dream is to host my own late-night show.
In the meantime, I would love to work on any show, whether that be a digital, TV, or podcast program, that strives to inform people on the latest political and social issues of the day through entertainment and comedy. I want to be a part, either in front of the camera or behind-the-scenes, of influencing the best parts of our culture.