HALLELOO! | THE SHANGELA INTERVIEW
Like the detectives that Shangela would watch on television in Murder She Wrote and CSI, the breakout star of Logo TVs RuPaul’s Drag Race is the self-proclaimed “Nancy Drew of Drag.” As she offers, “It’s because I keep it real, and I don’t shy away from getting to the bottom of the truth. Halleloo. So if there’s a stunt, I’m gonna do the research and call it out.”
In the land of opportunity, drag entertainer Shangela knows first hand the reap of award for jobs well done. No matter that she was the first eliminated Doll in season two of RDR. Surprise! Shangela was back for another try at becoming “America’s Next Drag Superstar” in season three! Fitting me in her very busy schedule, she tells the tale and spills the tea for me and thee. Just read…
Steven Michael (for The Bottom Line): What’s something that your bios never tell?
Shangela: That I do my most creative thinking in the shower! I wish there were waterproof post-it notes so I could write the ideas down when they immediately come to me. Maybe it’s something about the open pores/open mind combo.
I agree. Showers are wonderful for opening the thought process! I saw you win California Entertainer of the Year. Well deserved, I must add. How was nationals? And how did you get started doing drag?
I started as a backup dancer for a lot of titleholders in Texas. Alyssa Edwards, my drag mamma, was the first to paint me. Winning the California EOY pageant was one of the greatest nights of my drag career. It was my very first time competing in a pageant (nationals were only my second!) and I remember sitting backstage with the other girls barefoot in our gowns making each other laugh to keep each other from puking from nervousness. I placed first runner-up at the national EOY competition! I love pageants!
How did you feel initially when RuPaul asked you to come back to season three?
I auditioned for the third season, so it’s important that people know I didn’t just get a free pass back into the competition. I was so thrilled that Ru thought that I had worked hard enough over the past year to once again compete against the best queens in the country.
What was the real feeling in the room when you popped out of the box in the premiere?! We viewers are at the mercy of television editors and writers.
During the first episode, it seemed like most of the girls were excited to see me in the competition. Everyone was really nice to my face and most of that was genuine. I know that not everyone was happy but as more of the queens realized what a competitor I was, then came the real shade.
Is there something else that went down between you and Raja in real life? It really seemed there was more to the story. What’s the true tea, boo?
Raja is actually my baby’s daddy and he owes me back child support, and as Laquifa would say, “Bitch betta have my money!” Just kidding! We knew each other from living in L.A., and both recognized what fierce competition each other would bring to the table. That led to some heated feelings and lots of frustration, but today I can honestly say we’ve put that behind us and are moving ahead!
Do you regret the drink throwing incident with Mimi Imfirst? Passions tend to run thick especially backstage.
I don’t regret that moment, because at the time it was rooted in real emotion. She had said a very serious lie about me on national TV, and in my mind I was thinking, “What if the editors only use her saying that I have a sugar daddy, and don’t include me letting the world know it’s a lie?” But I don’t condone or encourage that type of behavior outside the Interior Illusions lounge, and Mimi and I actually laugh about it to this day. It surely made for good TV.
We’re sisters. No one can truly identify with what we go through today, unless you were on the show. We bond over our similar experiences in being clocked at the grocery store or stranded in airports.
Describe the biggest challenge while filming the show. What really put a girl through it?
For me, it was being cut off from any communication with my family. I’m very close with my grandma and mom. We stayed off-site alone under close supervision when not filming. The producers wanted all interactive moments to be caught on camera.
Was it as cliquish as it looked from our seat? It got very high school, at times.
Yes, it became a little cliquish, but that’s life. People hang out with those they identify most with, but I’m lucky to say that after the show we all really got to bond. I love all the girls, but I’m closest with Alexis, Yara, Mariah and Stacy Layne Matthews.
It was amazing to us to see you get bullied by your peers because that’s what they did to you backstage and on stage, for that matter. How did you stay so strong?
I was shocked at first, too! I mean I know it’s a competition, but you can see the reaction on my face during the cake challenge runway read-down. I had no idea how personal the attacks would get. You’re not always going to be most popular with everyone, especially when you’re a strong competitor. I hope people can identify and draw strength from the way I stood up for myself and refused to go down without a fight.
Thoughts on the winner? Was it who you thought would win and will you be coming back again next season?
I was rooting for my sista Alexis Mateo for the overall win. We’re family! Raja consistently turned it on the runway. I think she’ll have a great reign as this year’s winner. And who knows, I may be back again on Season 4, 5 and 6 until Ru finally writes me that big check!
Future plans, both near and far away? Pursuing the comedy I hope! Where does your natural humor come from?!
The show really opened up a lot of doors and projects for me. I recently shot my first TV pilot called A Mann’s World, created and directed by Michael Patrick King with Don Johnson, Ellen Barkin and Mario Cantone. We’ll find out if it goes to series soon, so let’s keep our fingers crossed! Also, I’ve been doing more stand up comedy. I was the opening act for Mo’Nique at Milwaukee PrideFest in June. My humor comes from my experiences in life. And don’t we all live some crazy lives?!? Also, I’ve always enjoyed hearing people laugh, especially my grandma.
A final moment you want to share with your fans and followers?!
I hope to have inspired someone out there with my journey on RuPaul’s Drag Race. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been doing something. If you’re passionate about it, work hard and believe you’re a winner, you can be SICK’NING! Stay in touch with me on my website http://shangela.com or Twitter at @itsshangela. And check out some of the cool new Halleloo gear that I’ve been designing like t-shirts, wristbands, tank tops and more!
2011 © The Bottom Line