If you haven't heard of the hit A&E tv show Duck Dynasty, just go ahead and crawl back under that rock. The season finale alone snagged 6.5 million viewers, all chomping at the bit to watch the Robertsons' shenanigans. So what's it like to be a teenager in that house? We sat down with 17-year-old John Luke Robertson to find out.
TC: So let's just get this out of the way. Your dad's a Duck Commander. Tell me about that.
JLR: It's wild. My family has kind of always been local celebrities in West Monroe. It all happened gradually. The Duck Commander name just got more and more famous. It had gotten to a point where we were kind of famous, people wanted pictures every once in a while, no big deal. Then when A&E hit, I was on the first episode and everything skyrocketed. That was when things got almost overwhelming. That's really the only way I can describe it. It's crazy.
TC: You seem like a normal teenager, except you're on national tv. What’s that like?
JLR: Well, all of it is true. What you see is really what we've done. It's not like I'm acting or doing something other than what I usually do. I'm just living my life, except with 30 people with cameras.
TC: The Internet creates such a weird arena for celebrities, especially with all the opportunities for direct contact. Does that happen a lot?
JLR: Yes. Oh my goodness, yes. I can't even tell you how many Facebook messages and stuff I get every day. I mean, it's crazy. That's why I'm staying away from Twitter. I can't even add any more friends on Facebook because it's full. I was getting a hundred requests a day.
TC: Lots of girls?
TC: And just how does that make you feel?
JLR: I mean, I definitely feel appreciated, but sometimes it can be a little weird.
TC: What's the craziest interaction you've ever had with a fan?
JLR: I was at a concert and we had to be in this kind of fenced in area. This girl jumps over the fence, just hurls herself over, and takes me down from the side. But her legs were still on the fence, so I was trying to hold her up while she was on me. I didn't want her to fall, but I still had to try to gently toss her back to the other side.
TC: Why do you think Duck Dynasty has been such a hit?
JLR: I think it's the uniqueness of it. It's just different from everything else. Our motto is "faith, family, ducks." I feel like it's a breath of fresh air for people who are watching all the drama and families that are falling apart on tv, to then watch a family that's staying together. The messages I get and letters that come in, a lot of them say "you've helped me, you're my inspiration."
TC: What kind of opportunities has this kind of platform given you?
JLR: It’s allowed me to meet a lot of people that I would've never met and make a lot of new friends. Plus, I get to go to places I'd never even dream of going.
TC: How about in terms of your faith?
JLR: It's allowed me to set an example. There's a verse that says to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. This show has allowed me to do that. When I sign autographs and stuff, my name being John Luke, I sign John 3:16 and Luke 9:23, hoping that can affect even one person. It's allowed exposure. A lot of people that aren't Christians, maybe they don't necessarily love God, but they love the show, the morals. If they like me, that allows me to show them that you can love God and read your Bible and pray and memorize verses and still be a normal person.
TC: So what are you going to do after high school? Take over the family business?
JLR: You know, I'm not really sure yet. I feel like I've been prepared for that. I'm going to go to college, Lord willing. I want to go to Harding, probably go into business or preaching school, kind of like my dad did.
TC: What has been the biggest life lesson you've learned from your family?
JLR: It's got to be love. Love and forgiveness. To be able to work together and stay together? Every day? Yeah. And hard work, too. You get out of this world what you put into it. So throw yourself into it.
TC: What about the weirdest thing?
JLR: Jase's dating advice.
TC: Is there anything you wish people knew about your life or your family?
JLR: It seems like on the show, there's always a little conflict, which there kind of has to be for a good show, but in real life, everyone gets along. Jase and my dad may argue and have competitions and stuff, but they do get along. For the most part, the show is how it is. Jase and Missy, Jep and Jessica all come over every night and we eat supper together.
TC: What have you learned from all this?
JLR: I've learned how to tell if people are sincere. I don't know what kind of answer you're looking for, but that's honest. There are tons of people who just want me or my family just so they can say they met us. They'll say things that may seem sincere, but really they just want something. Then there are some people who truly are sincere, who love the show and are grateful for what we're doing.
And now for the fun stuff:
TC: What do you like to do for fun?
JLR: I like to hunt. About two weeks ago, I started really wanting to get out there. Then I was just ready to go.
TC: What do you hunt?
JLR: I like hunting deer. Ducks are fun, too. I mean, that kind of comes with the territory. Used to, since my family hunts, if I wanted to hunt, I'd say, "Dad, I want to kill a deer," and he'd take me into a box and I'd shoot one. That's no fun. But lately, since he's been gone, I've had to do everything myself, find the deer, track ‘em, set out the corn, put out the feeders, sit and watch. I do it all myself. So that's the fun part.
TC: What's the biggest deer you've ever killed?
JLR: Well, I killed an elk once. It was huge. That was my first kill ever, so everything else kind of pales in comparison.
TC: What song can you not get enough of?
JLR: I really love that song "I'm on Top of the World" (by Imagine Dragons).
TC: What's your favorite app?
JLR: Honestly, it's this app called Pocket Whip. There's just so much you can do with it. If I'm like, "Bella, can you get me some water," and she says yeah… *whapshh*
TC: So do you pester your siblings a lot?
JLR: Yeah. We had a foreign exchange student, Rebecca, from Taiwan. She did not speak one word of English. I don't know how she did it, but I didn't help. She was really fun to mess with, but we really get along pretty well. Sadie's two years younger, and we used to get on each other's nerves, but we're friends now. Me and Will are just complete opposites, so I mess with him a lot. And Bella's just a goober.
TC: If you were in the Hunger Games, would you win?
JLR: Absolutely. Actually, I'd probably be the first one to die. As soon as the sound went off, I'd end up going straight for the cornucopia.
TC: What's your favorite book?
JLR: I really did love "The Hunger Games." I also like this series called "The Wheel of Time." It's really long, though, like 14 books.
TC: Do you think beards are attractive?
JLR: Do YOU think beards are attractive?
Touché, John Luke. Touché.
Jess Ardrey is the Managing Editor for TC Magazine