Performing a stage show is new for Coyote Peterson, but the star and creator of the Brave Wilderness YouTube channel says he’s feeling no nerves.
“Believe it or not, for me to stand on a stage and talk in front of hundreds, if not thousands, of people is actually less nerve-racking than getting in front of a camera while presenting an animal,” said Peterson, 36. “My preparation is simply to just be excited that this many people are interested to hear my crew speak about the adventures we’ve been on.”
He brings the Brave Adventures Tour to Plaza Live Orlando on Thursday, Sept. 21. The show is based on the structure of his first book, “Coyote Peterson’s Brave Adventures,” which was released Tuesday. The tour starts Wednesday (today) in Columbus, Ohio, where Peterson’s Wilderness Productions is based.
For the tour, Peterson incorporates an audiovisual presentation, interacts with the audience and banters with business partner Mark Laivins and cinematographer Mario Aldecoa. Peterson promises back-and-forth improv comedy among them.
“I’ll give ideas to them constantly,” he said. “They’ll give feedback based on encounters with animals and crazy situations.”
The most intense encounters include an enormous alligator in the Everglades and a mother bear in Alaska.
For the Brave Wilderness channel, Peterson and director Laivins produce the series “Breaking Trail,” “Beyond the Tide,” “Dragon Tails,” “Coyote's Backyard,” “Behind the Adventure” and “On Location.” Brave Wilderness, which launched in September 2014, is YouTube’s top-rated wildlife channel with nearly 8 million subscribers. Peterson said he’s fairly surprised by the response.
“We had no idea what to expect,” he said. “It turns out people do love animals just as much as we hoped. The growth of our channel over the course of the past three years has been unbelievably exciting.”
Peterson cites determination as the key to his success. “We were dying to go to television,” he said. “We had a lot of doors closed to us, and people saying, ‘No, no, no. People are not interested in a single-host show talking about animals anymore.’ We were 100 percent convinced they were.”
The digital age allows Peterson and his team to talk daily to fans, known as the Coyote Pack.
“It humbles and motivates us,” Peterson said. “Being able to reach people like this — where you couldn’t before on television — for us it’s incredibly important.”
Without that audience, the tour wouldn’t be possible, he added. The question he hears most often from fans: How did you get started? He again pointed to determination and his team’s passion for the environment and animals. Peterson treasures reaching viewers ages 4 to 15 who are learning about animals for the first time.
He cites a range of inspirations: Steven Spielberg and George Lucas for their filmmaking. Jeff Corwin and Steve Irwin for their passion for animals. And Bear Grylls for his immersive style and ability to captivate.
Peterson describes his own style as “just excitement, feeling blessed to do what it is I love. I never intended to be in front of camera. Once I started doing it, I realized my love of animals was resonating on screen.”
He will be signing and selling his book on tour and hopes that readers are inspired to go outside and have their own adventures.
Peterson grew up in Ohio, but described himself as an Orlando Magic fan from the sixth to eighth grades.
“Florida is where we developed a lot of our content,” he said, estimating they’ve done close to 30 pieces here. “Any time we’re doing something in that state, it’s exciting for me.”