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A New Role for Will Kirby, DO, FAOCD


How does a dermatologist go from the clinic to the television screen? Editorial Board member Will Kirby, DO, FAOCD, shares his thoughts about reality television and his appearance The Traitors.

Will Kirby, DO, FAOCD

Will Kirby, DO, FAOCD


Dermatology Times caught up with editorial board member Will Kirby, DO, FAOCD, to chat with him about his upcoming appearance on the reality television show The Traitors streaming on Peacock/NBC.

Dermatology Times: In what ways are reality shows like the practice of dermatology?

Will Kirby, DO, FAOCD: Surprisingly, there are significant comparable items between reality shows and dermatology. The Traitors is the No. 1 most watched streaming show right now and, although I am admittedly biased, I’m of the opinion that dermatology is the No. 1 medical specialty. In addition, participants in both are immensely competitive; the path to gaining entry to both is unpredictable and uncertain; and the ultimate payoff for both can be monumental. The parallels go on and on.

DTHow does your appearance on television shows enhance your dermatological career? And vice versa—how does your appearances on television enhance your dermatological work?

Kirby: I have been appearing on reality television shows now for nearly a quarter of a century, quite a bit longer than I have been a dermatologist. And, in the interest of transparency, there was a time when I was very fearful that my television notoriety was going to be a hindrance to a successful dermatology career.

Today I’m the chief medical officer at LaserAway, the nation’s leader in aesthetic dermatology. With 139 current clinics, and new clinics opening nationwide every month, I think I can safely state that my previous fear was unfounded, as I have achieved a level of professional success that I never dreamed possible.

But, to answer your question more succinctly, my 2 careers—dermatology and unscripted television—have only enhanced each other and become shockingly synergistic over time.

DTDoes your participation in these extracurricular activities help you maintain a work/life balance?

Kirby: My professional passion is, and will always be, staying at the forefront of the practice of dermatology and continuing to drive world class clinical practices at LaserAway. But I would be remiss if I didn’t state that reality television appearances are a really exciting way to inject some unconventional fun into my life. And everyone has hobbies, right? Mine just happen to take place at a Scottish castle, flanked by 2 wolves!

DT:  What advice would you give to colleagues who are considering television appearances?

Kirby: I’m not really one to give advice, particularly when it comes to public relations and marketing. Although my personal experience with television has been overarchingly positive, I fully acknowledge that it isn’t right for everyone. So before you dive into an experience that you have no control over—like a competition reality television show—you should be really, really, really sure that you are also comfortable with an outcome that you have no control over.

All that said, everyone has their own destiny, and I would never want to alter someone else’s. So, if the opportunity presents itself, you have to give it strong consideration.

DTWhat about The Traitors intrigued you and made you want to participate?

Kirby: The production value is absolutely incredible. Every scene has a massive budget, resulting in movie quality footage. And the setting is ethereal; located just outside Loch Ness, the 100 acre estate housing the 170 year-old Andres Castle is where we filmed.

DT: How did the collaboration/appearance on the show come to be? 

Kirby: In 2001 I made a name for myself by winning the CBS reality show Big Brother. I have remained active in the reality television world since then, having appeared on more than 40 television shows. So when producers are in the process of curating talent for new series, I’m fortunate enough to be considered. To wit, I’m a consummate professional on the set. They need true entertainment value, and they always know that I’m always going to provide the best content I can give them.

DTHow do you balance your professional commitments as a dermatologist with your work in entertainment? Does it ever present issues when interacting with patients or colleagues?

Kirby: Balance is absolutely the right word. After all, I think there’s an argument that everything in life is about balance. I get offers multiple times per year to be a contestant. However, I am unbelievably selective in the shows I participate in because, as stated earlier, my professional passion and complete commitment is the company I work for.

As far as patients go, I live in Los Angeles. So not only are our patients not surprised that their dermatologist appears on television, they’ve almost grown to expect it.

DTAre there any reality television shows you hope to do in the future?

Kirby: Zip it, lock it, put it in your pocket. I absolutely cannot divulge offers I’m entertaining, but I will clearly state that I am elusive, reclusive, and exclusive when it comes to television appearances. I do not want to dilute what I can bring to the table, so proper project selection is paramount importance.

DTIf you were going to create a television show about dermatology, what would it be called?

Kirby: The show would be about this publication, Dermatology Times! Set in the 1980s, the opening scene would feature me driving into work in a white Lamborghini, wearing a wide lapel, double breasted suit and hair slicked back. Costars would include Neil Patrick Harris and Jaleel White, while the series villains would be played by Philip Michael Thomas and Lou Diamond Phillips, who run our biggest, competitive rival: a Miami-based dermatology publication backed by limitless international dollars in a mysterious oligarch set on undermining democracy through industry propaganda. I smell an Emmy!

DTWhat is the most pressing issue in dermatology today? What are you most excited about in dermatology?

Kirby: The biggest issue in the dermatological space today, and keep in mind that I work exclusively an aesthetics, is the sheer volume of pseudoscience that is pumped out. No other specialty would tolerate the lack of scientific rigor that the aesthetic dermatology field allows nor would they tolerate some of the purported leaders that somehow still plague our industry.

What I’m most excited about are the changes that we see taking place in the industry with ethics and transparency, as well degree diversity and inclusivity, as we move forward, ushering in a whole new generation of great dermatological minds and businesses!

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