Willie Robertson of A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” spoke Friday at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center, Grace College. Between speaking to Grace students for Career Week in the morning and his public talk at night, he spoke to local media about everything from the show and his company to President Trump and his beard. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
Willie Robertson of A&E’s “Duck Dynasty” spoke Friday at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center, Grace College. Between speaking to Grace students for Career Week in the morning and his public talk at night, he spoke to local media about everything from the show and his company to President Trump and his beard. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
WINONA LAKE – For the second time in less than three months, a “Duck Dynasty” star came to the Winona Lake/Warsaw area to speak.
On Friday, Willie Robertson, the CEO of Duck Commander and star and executive producer of A&E’s “Duck Dynasty,” spoke twice at the Manahan Orthopaedic Capital Center at Grace College – in the morning to Grace students for Career Week and at night to the public (Jase Robertson spoke at a private Christmas party for Wildman Business Group at Warsaw Community Church Dec. 9).
In between his two speaking engagements Friday, Robertson held a press conference with local media, who asked him about everything from his beard and the show to career advice and President Trump.
He said what he tried to share with the students Friday morning was some career advice.
“Their past probably won’t be like mine because it was a strange way to do things,” Robertson said. “But I think we can have some base things – integrity and honesty, our faith, a lot of things we can share that are similar. For the kids here, I wanted to talk about especially their faith. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have that in society and be successful at work – we’ve proven that otherwise. Just encouraged them to be authentic, really, and live their lives authentic because that’s really what made ‘Duck Dynasty’ great. We were authentic people, we’re real people, honest and made mistakes.”
He said one never knows what God has planned for them.
“I would have never thought I would have been on reality TV. I don’t even watch reality TV, yet here I am,” he said.
“Duck Dynasty” debuted in 2012. After five years, its 11th season is also its last with the final episode scheduled to air April 12.
Robertson said the show is done taping, but they’ve shot a special where the cast goes back and looks at clips.
“That was neat. We kind of got to reminisce for a couple of days and watch video. I basically got to watch my kids grow up. I’ve got really cool, well-done home videos of my children and family growing up. So we’ll see what’s next. We have no idea what’s coming and what’ll be,” Robertson said.
Everyone from the show is traveling and doing a lot of different things, he said. Being springtime, he noted that everyone just got done hunting, but they’ll get back together and tell stories about where they went and what they hunted. Robertson said he did pretty well hunting.
“We’ve been eating a lot of deer meat, that’s for sure,”?he said.
Robertson has been a supporter of President Trump since he was on the campaign trail. In Trump’s first 30 days, Robertson said he’s been doing exactly what he said he’d do.
“I expected nothing less. He is a worker. What I am impressed with as a CEO of a business is he’s very business-like. He goes to work and wants to get stuff done. I share that same way. I realize it’s difficult in D.C. of all places to go in there and get a lot of stuff done. Things get bogged down, but I appreciate a lot of things that he said he was going to try to do and he’s trying to do them. So to me, he hit the ground running,” Robertson said.
He said he was impressed by the Trump family’s work ethic and how tenacious he is.
“I know he cares about the country and I think he’s doing good,” Robertson said.
While Trump went from a reality TV show, “The Apprentice,” to becoming the U.S. president, Robertson said he wasn’t looking to follow in Trump’s path.
“I enjoy politics, I know a lot of politicians. When you have a big show that has a lot of people who watch, it draws politicians toward you,” he said. “So I’ve been able to hang out with people. That’s one thing I loved about Trump was that he was such a regular guy to talk to. He didn’t seem like a politician, hopefully that doesn’t change. But most of them kind of get like statues – you don’t know quite what they think. But (Trump) would just let you know  real quick.”
Robertson said he likes what he’s doing now, but enjoys helping out politically.
“I do love to try to change things. There’s certain things I want to see get easier,” he said.
He and his wife, Korie, work with adoption and fostering. They’d like to see those made easier with less red tape. The laws are different in each state, but he said he and his wife are trying to connect children with parents. They have adopted a couple of children themselves.
“So things like that I’m really interested in. Really interested in that. We work hard on that angle. So that side of politics, yeah, to try to change things and make them better, but it’s tough,” he said.
Democrats and Republicans both watch  and enjoy his shows, he said.
“Our show did not go into the politics. In some ways, I think it shouldn’t. I think too many are trying to put politics into everything now. Celebrities are. So sometimes I just want to watch a show and not even think about anything. I just want to get away,” he said.
In 2016, Robertson published his latest book “The American Fisherman,” which came after his 2015 book, “The American Hunter.” He and his uncle Si have another book coming out along the line of those previous two.
He and Korie wrote “The Duck Commander Family: How Faith, Family and Ducks Built a Dynasty” in 2012. Robertson said that came out a few months into “Duck Dynasty” and was the first one of the books that came out during the run of the show.
“It did well. And then Dad wrote a book.  Si’s written a couple of books. Jay’s wrote a book. Everybody kind of came out of the woods, which is great. It’s just another avenue to really tell a deeper story. The show can only tell you so much, it’s only 22 minutes long. But a book can go into the past and tell how we got there and what we think about things. But I’ll keep writing, I enjoy writing books, even though I told the college kids I didn’t read a book in college,” Robertson said.
While there are days when Robertson doesn’t enjoy all the heat from his hair and beard, he won’t be shaving it off any time soon.
“I would, but I like it,” he joked. “Technically, I’m under contract. I can’t change my appearance too much. ... But because of the television show and the advertising, I have a lot of sponsors. ... It’s good and bad. It’s very recognizable, but it does get a little hot in the summertime. It’s not the beard, it’s the hair, so I’ll throw it in a ponytail. But who knows? Maybe one day.”
Robertson said the beards have served them well.
“In essence it’s a reverse disguise. So, when I’m sick of all of this, I’m going to shave my beard and cut my hair and blend in with everyone else. It’ll be nice,” he said.