A short conversation with Jordan Fisher about streaming, anime, and more

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Jordan Fisher is the kind of multi-hyphenate performer who is impossible to summarize in a sentence. He’s in film, on television and Broadway, and somehow he finds the time to keep a regular streaming schedule on Twitch. But more than that, he’s sincere. I can honestly say that’s what struck me the most about Fisher. (That said: let’s be real, the dude is extremely handsome.)

We chatted recently over Zoom on a call attended by a bunch of muted black squares, ostensibly because Fisher is promoting Verizon’s new 5G network — though, as he tells me, he hasn’t actually used it yet.

Gaming, on the other hand, is something Fisher says he does every day. He’s been gaming his whole life, even while spending a ton of time starring in shows like The Secret Life of the American Teenager and films like To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You. (I should note here that he was most recently Evan Hansen in Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway.) Fisher tells me he’s a 15-year World of Warcraft veteran and also semi-pro in Super Smash Brothers Melee. Lately, however, he’s been streaming a lot of Valorant, enough to get himself to Immortal II — which is two away from the highest ranking in the game.

Streaming came later for Fisher and involved one Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. “[I] randomly met Ninja over social media, actually,” he says. “We became buddies on Twitter before we even ever played a game together, and then we started playing Fortnite.” They met in person in 2018, at Fortnite’s first Pro-Am — that’s professional-amateur — competition in Los Angeles and really hit it off. “He has since become one of my closest friends in my life,” says Fisher. “He was in my wedding. We talk daily, all day.”

But before that, it was just gaming. They had the same conversations most people have when trying to schedule time to play together — “‘I’ll be streaming later,’ you know, you know, ‘what time are you free’ and that kind of thing,” says Fisher — but after a few weeks, Blevins hit him with a suggestion. “He was like, ‘Dude, what, why don’t you just… if you’re playing the games anyway, and you play at a high level, and you’re already an entertaining individual, why not just turn on a camera and grab a microphone and stream it.’” So he did. That was a little over two and a half years ago, Fisher says.

“It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life. I was kind of thrust into the space and it’s been… It’s been a remarkable tool for me, it’s been a great sense of catharsis for me, a great way to laugh and love and share positivity and to be a part of a beautiful community,” he says. “Both where just the gamer is concerned, as well as the other incredible content creators across all platforms.” Today, he’s known as the coziest streamer on Twitch, where he has 414,000 followers and a thriving community called the Fish Fam. He streams with some of the biggest people on Twitch, too, like his buddy Blevins and Michael “shroud” Grzesiek.

“I love my community,” he says. “My community kind of built itself. I can’t take too much credit, man, I really can’t. Just the right people recruited the other right people to say, ‘Hey, I feel I love this guy. I love the stream. I love the games he plays.’”

Though he has a crack team of mods, he’s patient with people who might have come to the stream just to troll. “I’m down to have a conversation with them about that and be like, ‘Yo, why, why? Why say that? Why be this way? Why act that way?’” he says. And then, after they’re a little chastened, they begin to engage with the stream differently. “They become a major part of my community,” he says.

And he’s committed to the community. Fisher tells me he has streaming rigs everywhere he goes — one in New York, one in LA, and one mobile setup — which means he’s always ready to go live, provided he has the time. It’s all about balance. “I just listen to my body, I pay attention to my mental health, and make sure that I give myself time to do whatever makes me feel really good — if that’s reading scripts, or being in a meeting, or streaming, or doing nothing, but, you know, eating a sandwich and drinking a glass of wine and watching anime,” he says. “I make sure that I take care of myself.” (Right now, he’s watching The God of High School. “First episode you’re hooked, literally. And as an anime fan, and you’re looking for a new series, you want that.”)

If Fisher is like most of us, that probably means that he’s thinking about self-care a lot more lately, given that we’re nearly seven months into a pandemic. Where streaming is concerned, though, he says it’s only gotten better. “My relationship with streaming has only… it’s only evolved in the same way that your relationship does with a significant other,” he says. “You get out of the honeymoon phase, and then you get into the real love that you have. And you make that choice to love that person every day.”

Which, as he points out, is what streaming is like for everyone who’s done it for longer than a year or two. “Your community is your every day,” he continues. “You tailor things for them and for yourself, for your own joy so that mentally you have the capacity to sit down at your rig every day and play something that maybe you don’t necessarily want to play, but the views are really great on it. Which is like everybody that’s stuck playing Warzone right now.”

I get it. But by now our interview is up; it’s time for the Verizon 5G plug, which Fisher dutifully — and organically! — gives. A sample: “I am a fan of content creators, I’m a fan of content being created in real time. Therefore, I’m traveling… if I’m, you know, in the car headed to an airport or whatever, and I don’t have any work that I need to do, I’m gonna pull up Twitch and I’m going to watch a stream. The problem with that truly is connectivity most of the time, right?” And here he goes on a while, and here I understand why it’s so fun to catch his streams. Fisher oozes charisma. He’s entertaining and persuasive as hell, even if he hasn’t actually used Verizon’s 5G network yet. Personally, I don’t care. I’m just happy to watch.

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