Introducing Serenity T. Lopez… breakout drag star, talented ballerina and one smart cookie with a long history of intense dance training and making her dreams come true! I am part of a close-knit drag family called The Taylors and when you are fortunate to be part of a chosen gay family like I am you are blessed to meet others who immediately become part of your new family of fast friends. I had never met Serenity until we saw her pop up through social media sharing her amazing talents she delivers during her time with the Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. Then sister went up to Chicago and competed in Miss Continental and was the one everyone was talking about when it was over. Here’s my delicious interview with the dancing doll!
Steven Michael – Tell us when you decided to become a ballerina and what’s your training? I’m a dancer choreographer myself but you blow me away!
Serenity T. Lopez – I have been a ballerina for my entire adult life, actually. I am the youngest person ever to join Ballets Trockadero. I got my training at Virginia School of the Arts (which is now closed). The teachers there were very honest with me. With my very small frame, and very feminine way of dancing, if I wanted to be a ballet dancer, Trockadero was pretty much the only option. Plus I loved dancing on pointe and doing drag. Trockadero is very good to me. They accept me for who I am, and have afforded me the opportunity to travel around the world.
You just competed in Chicago at Miss Continental placing in the top 5 your very first year. Amazing feat (and feet) my love! There’s so much I want to ask about your time there. I choreographed a few girls for Continental many years ago and know those stages well. Tell me about your experience and how has your time there influenced your opinion about the system that perhaps you didn’t feel before Labor Day?
Miss Continental was only my 4th or 5th pageant ever! The other ones were newcomer pageants, or bar titles, so I was very nervous. I think what really made me the most nervous was competing alongside some of the people that I idolized the most, such as Queen Bee Ho, Tiffany T. Hunter, Aria B. Cassidine, Stasha Sanchez, etc. When I got there for registration and interview, I didn’t know anyone but Brenda Dharling. After prelim night, it seemed that everyone was a lot more friendly to me. And actually, most people were actually very supportive, notably Queen Bee Ho who personally came and congratulated me, which meant the world to me. The next morning I guess the buzz had started and people started blowing up my phone! Everyone was giving me their advice on what to do or not to do for final night. At one point, I had to push all that aside, and decide to be myself and listen to the close people to me, especially Bob Taylor and Brittany T. Moore.
As final night began, I was surprised that I won Talent, because Fontasia LaMour had really brought an amazing performance. I wasn’t counting on anything really because I didn’t really know how I compared to everyone else. When I won prelim night Talent, I was overjoyed and honored. When my name was called for top 5, I was in disbelief. I really didn’t plan on getting into the top 5. That is why I didn’t even bother to change my gown. So my face really was cracked when they called my name. While all of us were outside waiting to come in before Q & A was probably the realest moment of the night. Tiffany and I had a very private and special moment right before I went on. I will never forget those few minutes we shared together, and I will always cherish the things we said to each other. At crowning, I was super happy just to place, and I was super happy for Tiffany T. Hunter. She really wanted it and worked really hard become Miss Continental.
The thing about Continental is that I was judged fairly. I was acknowledged for my strengths and docked for my weaknesses. I felt I walked away learning a lot about myself and my craft. Also, I got more love than shade for sure. Of course, there were people who didn’t even bother to speak to me the whole time. But, the most successful people of the pageant were the ones who really took time to talk to me and see me as an individual and not competition.
I compete also and find it interesting when people look through you nor speak to you. It amuses me especially when they are national representatives. Miss Continental has such a legacy being of the elite in female impersonation so you wanting to be there is kismet. The winners have always been incredibly talented and beautiful representatives. You’ll will be a wonderful addition when that time comes. Who do you look up to of the formers? Monica Munro is my drag mother, although she has moved on from it all.
This is always a subject that I argue with people about, because I can only judge from the experience that I have seen. I don’t judge a titleholder just by what they brought the night they won. I judge by how they carry themselves during their reign.
First and foremost, Armani, as I mentioned in my interview. I saw her performing at the Parliament House in Orlando, FL. She performed “Is It A Crime” by Sade, and shut down the building. From that moment, I knew that one day I wanted to be that good of an entertainer. She was so in the moment, and the song became hers. She was fully committed to what she was doing, and I will never forget that.
Secondly, Dana Douglas is probably the most dedicated titleholder in the system’s history. She won in 1988 and she continues to support and help the system grow. It is my opinion that a titleholder isn’t just a titleholder for one year, but it is a lifetime commitment. You are part of the family, and help it expand anyway you can. The way that she cares about Continental is something that I too aspire to do for the system someday.
Thirdly, Brook Lynn Hytes. She is/was super accessible during her reign. This is SUPER important for a current reigning titleholder because the pageant relies on new talent coming in! When I approached her about going to Miss Continental, she literally bent over backwards for me, as well as many others who came. She also has remained the same person she was before she won. There is no entitlement there. If anything, she is an even BETTER artist since winning.
There are more, such as Sasha Colby, who never takes a single performance for granted. Erica Andrews, for always daring to be the best she could be within who she was. And many more.
Girl, you are smart. You impress me! Great answers. We loved your talent at the pageant! The Taylor Swift routine to her smash “Shake It Off” was everything. You were on point and pointe. You’re quite phenomenal. Many of us followed it on FB and when people said you were the only standing ovation of the night I knew you were in. I spoke to Bob and he said he spoke to you about your wardrobe gig so I knew you’d be right. When you got that reaction from the crowd and then won overall talent is it “old hat” to you from your time in the brilliant Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo or does it make you feel some type of way?
You will never believe me, but I was wracked with doubt about my “Shake It Off” talent, because EVERYONE, except Bob Taylor, told me not to do it. Everyone was nervous that the comedy aspect of the talent wouldn’t read the same as it did for Trockadero, and that I needed to do something more sexy and glamorous. However, I had a clear vision in my head, and I wanted to represent who I am which IS Trockadero. Trockadero has molded me into the artist I am today. That being said, when the audience went up for me, I was super emotional. Because, the Continental audience, I feel, has seen pretty much everything. So that moment was one of the highlights of my entire career. I thank God that I have footage of it, because I still watch it amazed about the overwhelming amount of love I received.
I’m so glad you have someone like Bob on your side to give you his take. Well, the talent was absolutely fabulous! We lived for the show Breaking Pointe and saw where you danced with Tom from the show. How did you get connected with him and what happened to his show?
Tom Mattingly and I both went to Virginia School of the Arts. We have kept in contact ever since those days, and we have very similar ideas about ballet. Working with him on “Shake It Off” was a super fun experience, because we literally were laughing the whole time we were putting it together. I am not sure what happen to the television show.
Ever head down the RuPaul’s Drag Race audition route? I’ve done a number of interviews with many of the girls. How do you feel about the show and where Ru has taken the industry of drag artistry?
I have auditioned for Rupaul 3 or 4 times. They cast me on the 2nd season, however, I had major Trockadero scheduling conflicts so I couldn’t go. Since then, I haven’t received a call or anything. Honestly, I don’t think that talent is on the forefront of their mind, at least not in the way that I am talented. When I really think about it, I don’t know how my ballet dancing would tie into the show in a runway competition atmosphere.
The show itself has created an entire genre of look queens. Which is great for pictures, and TV, but I find it boring. There have been exceptions to that, such as Kennedy Davenport, Jinkx Monsoon, Courtney Act, etc. However, I really wish that the show was judged on real talent, not what clothes you own. I think that would make the show blow up even more.
I couldn’t agree with you more. I wish the show focused on talent and real drag challenges instead of the nonsense they often must go through which make no sense in bettering themselves as performers. Where’s your favorite place you’ve ever performed with the ballet? And then in the gig of Serenity Lopez?
For Ballets Trockadero, I would say New York City Center. I did Black Swan Pas de Deux there with Alvin Ailey and a bunch of other artists. The audience really responded well and I got my picture in the NY Times.
And Continental, was for sure, the highlight of my “Serenity’ career.
And your love life? Is there a special someone to rub your sore feet after being in pointe shoes all day and night?
Yes! I have been with my fiancé for 3 years, and we are getting married in November! He completes me and understands my crazy.
CONGRATS! We were married in May and it feels great! Speaking of which… Doesn’t it drive you crazy when you see someone especially in drag pageants trying to do ballet on pointe but never bother to break the arch of the shoe? Drives. Me. Crazy.
BAHAHAHA! (laughing) Yes, it looks weird. The thing that I talk about with other entertainers is that you have to embrace what you can and can not do. You can not pull off a ballet talent after taking a year of ballet. You can not pull off a singing talent if you can’t sing like a woman. It is so important to really understand. Example, I like to perform Beyonce but why would I do that when my thing is ballet? Why would someone who can act their face off, perform a dancing talent? You don’t have to do cartwheels to shut down the building. You have to be amazing at what you do!
Wise words to live by, and hear here. I know you’re coming to Palm Springs on tour with the ballet 01/27/16 at McCallum Theatre and would love to steal you for a dinner here at the house if you can. Have you made it here to the desert before or California for that matter?
I have been to Palm Springs probably 3 or 4 times actually. I love it there! However, the last time we landed there the wind kept changing and we were running out of fuel. Needless to say, after we landed, I need to change my panties.
Where can fans and followers find you?
I am a Facebook person! Serenity Lopez on FB, or Serenitytlopez on Instagram and Twitter.
(photos courtesy of Serenity Lopez Facebook page, credits to photographers)