Brilyn Hollyhand’s portfolio of interviews with Republican Party politicians and conservative media stars is hard to rival – and he’s only now old enough to drive.

He has secured interviews with major newsmakers since he was 11, and his pictures with the newsmakers often show the now 16-year-old with a large grin on his face.

But it’s not all softballs and friendly smiles at the conservative “Truth Gazette.” Case in point, during a recent interview with former Vice President Mike Pence in Tuscaloosa, Hollyhand made sure to ask – more than once – whether the former Indiana governor was going to run for president. And for good measure, he asked him if he would officially announce his candidacy on his show. Pence politely declined.

He’s pushed back at the Grand Old Party in recent months for simply being too old.

In January, Hollyhand published an Op-Ed to his site entitled, “The GOP Must Address the Elephant in the Room: Gen Z.” The column generated some attention, including criticism, when Hollyhand suggested that former lawmakers and party critics like Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Liz Cheney were not the biggest problems for the GOP, but that it was a lack of winning over youth voters.

His concerns have a point. Exit polling from the 2022 midterms shows that the 18-to-29-year-od age group (made up of Gen Z and the youngest millennials) illustrated a pronounced shift toward Democratic candidates. Especially notable was the vote choice of young women, with 71% going for Democratic candidates to 26% for Republicans, according to a study by Tufts University’s Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.

Hollyhand also raised his concerns during an appearance on Fox News and issued a warning to national Republicans: You have to do more to secure the voters of the younger generation.

His comments caught the attention of national Republican leadership. Hollyhand was recently appointed by RNC Chair Rona McDaniel to a newly launched RNC Youth Advisory Council alongside fellow conservative commentator, 20-year-old C.J. Pearson (Georgia native who was Speaker of SGA Senate at the University of Alabama). Together, they will represent the concerns of Generation Z. – roughly those between the ages of 9-24.

That appointment came after Hollyhand reached out to McDaniel and expressed his concerns that Generation Z was not being represented by the “Grand Old Party.”

Hollyhand, a Tuscaloosa area resident and son to developer Brian Hollyhand, recently answered some questions with AL.com about his appointment and outlook.

What is your role with the RNC Youth Advisory Council as a representative for Gen Z voters?

Back in January, I published an op-ed titled, “The GOP Must Address the Elephant in the Room: Gen Z,” calling out the Republican Party for their lack of youth engagement in previous elections. After the midterms in 2022, a lot of fingers were being pointed and a lot of blame was being thrown around, but I felt like the real issue with our recent election losses was because our embarrassing performance with the youth vote.

Since the op-ed came out, I’ve spent the past few months going on TV, writing articles and tweeting about why the party needs to focus on youth voters.

But I decided talk wasn’t enough. I didn’t just want to be a talking head on TV. I wanted to put action behind my words, so in January, I reached out to (McDaniel) and since then, I have been meeting with her and her team to form this council. I flew up to D.C. last month to meet with her and a group of other young Republicans from all over the country with a wide variety of backgrounds and expertise to talk about what this council could accomplish.

As a first-time voter in 2024, I am honored to be representing my generation as the Gen Z co-chair of this historic council alongside my friend, C.J. Pearson. We have a lot of exciting things planned that we will be rolling out this summer, maybe even sooner.

Alabama is a deep red state, and the winner of the GOP primary will likely carry this state’s voters during the General Election. Why is your role on the RNC Youth Advisory Council important for Alabama?

Alabama is a deep red state and I’m proud that it’s not a state the RNC or I have to be worried about winning in 2024. I love this state with my whole heart, and I’ve supported many candidates here because I want what’s best for this state, but the majority of my work is on the national stage. I’ve traveled all over the country meeting with an interviewing all types of young people on all sides of the political spectrum. I will be taking that experience to the RNC Youth Advisory Council, and I’m honored to be representing the State of Alabama as the Gen Z co-chair.

You were interviewed on Fox News and you suggested the Republican Party is an “endangered species” without the support of Gen Z voters. Why would you say that?

Why would I say that? Because it’s true! I got ridiculed for ‘fear mongering’ on Twitter after I made that comment. Friends asked me to apologize or clarify my remarks. I refused, because it’s true. The Republican Party is an endangered species at risk of extinction if they don’t start involving my generation ahead of 2024. The RNC’s Youth Advisory Council is an incredible step in the right direction, and I’m honored to be a part of it.

If younger voters are mostly going toward Democratic politicians, what should Republicans do to connect with Gen Z voters?

The Democrats founded their youth council in 2005. When I came to the chairwoman with this idea back in January, my direct quote was, ‘It’s embarrassing that we don’t have one at this point because we’re almost 20 years behind them.’ We really have to play some catch-up. The RNC and their team in Washington is doing an incredible job of that, and really making sure we have boots on the ground, getting people in these positions across the country to really build out this whole apparatus to at least get our message out to youth voters. And then hopefully win them over on our side, so the fact that we have a youth council now is a step in the right direction.

To connect with youth voters, the Republican Party must meet them where they are – online. So that’s our plan. We must be having these conversations online. We’ll be rolling out large social media messaging campaigns leading up to 2024, to get the GOP’s platform out there to all youth voters.

I know the Democrats believe they have a monopoly on my generation, but they just don’t. My generation is waking up, and I’m not saying that the Democrats haven’t won the youth vote in the past – they have, that’s a fact. But it’s going to be different this time.

What policy considerations can the Republican Party do to better connect with the youth voter?

As for policy, as I said in my January op-ed, the Republican Party must start having conversations with my generation on controversial and sensitive topics. Whether they’re social or economic issues, we must be willing, as a party, to have those difficult conversations. Now, in no way am I saying that to win youth voters we must buckle on our Christian conservative view on these issues, but we must be willing to have a firm stance and make that known instead of this weird game where we think if we ignore it long enough, they’ll go away.

I noticed a 2018 article in which you were featured in Tuscaloosa about the launch of the Truth Gazette when you were in the fifth grade. At such a young age, how are you and your parents able to manage the toxic nature of social media and partisan politics without it having a detrimental effect?

I founded The Truth Gazette in July of 2016, at the age of 11. This year marks my 6-year anniversary. It’s definitely challenging at times dealing with some of the people out there, but I think after six yeas in the business, you develop incredibly thick skin and tune most of that stuff out. I get dozens of death threats every week. Every time I open my DMs, there’s a new slew of them, but every time I read them, I’m reminded of Winston Churchill’s famous quote, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, something in your life.” So, as long as I am standing strong in my morals and what I believe in, then I’ll take whatever hate comes my way. It’s worth it.

You are securing a lot of good interviews ahead of the election season. Who has been your favorite politician to interview and why, and/or who would you like to interview as the campaign season moves forward?

I don’t think I have a particular favorite, but I will say that one of my proudest accomplishments is interviewing all four White House Press Secretaries under President Trump and I conducted two of those interviews in the West Wing of The White House so that was an incredibly cool experience at such a young age.

What are your long-term goals?

Long-term, I want to inspire more people on both sides of the aisle to stand up, speak out, and fight for a seat at the table.

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