SPOILER ALERT: In case you’ve been living under a rock, children’s-TV-show-host-turned-drag-queen Priyanka Chopra was crowned yesterday as the first winner of Canada’s Drag Race!
Following her victory, Entertainment Weekly spoke to her about “courting fans around the world, being the narrator of the season, coming out to her father, and where she sees her future in the drag world.”
Read on for a selection of the full conversation, and tune in to EW’s Queening Out Instagram Live talk series next Thursday at 2:00 p.m. ET for a candid discussion with Priyanka.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Priyanka! How are you?
PRIYANKA: I won! I did it! Isn’t that wild? I’ve been crying all morning, just crying all by myself.
Girl, you’ve been tweeting since 7:00 a.m. Did you get any sleep?
I got two hours, but I feel ok. I think adrenaline is pushing me through. Like, poor me, I have to do press because I’m the winner!
Brooke said it best, you have an intangible “it” factor. But this win is also so important for representation, and to confirm, you are Indo-Guyanese, is that right?
We call it Indo-Caribbean because my parents are from Guyana, but their ancestors are from India. Growing up, we grew up Hindu and we have a lot of Indian culture within our own culture. But Indo-Caribbean is the way to umbrella it.
So that makes you the first person of Indian descent to win in the franchise’s global history. What does that mean to you and how does representation like this really helps, people seeing you in this position?
Growing up, there weren’t a lot of people like me on TV. It’s kind of interesting now to be Canada’s first drag superstar, because now someone who looks like me can be like, oh, I guess I can do that too! We’re normalizing people of color winning things. Shea Couleé. Jaida Essence Hall. That’s normal!
That ties into you saying, “what’s my name?” was more than just as a funny tagline, it’s so that people could see that a girl named Priyanka could be successful. Since you were also open about your struggles with identity, I’m wondering if asking people to say your name over and over, was that also a self-confidence mantra for youas you transitioned into this phase of your life as a drag artist as much as it is for other people to see that a girl named Priyanka can be successful?
Yeah! I think that was about reassurance. Instead of waiting for the audience’s applause, I just made them say my name until I felt loved!
I want to go back to something personal for a minute: You’d been open about your issues with your dad and coming out, but you tweeted recently that you told him after the show started airing. How did he react to you winning last night?
He’s in shock! His inner saboteur, as RuPaul would say, tells him that boys can’t dress up as girls. That’s not normal [to him]. Now his brain is like, so my son just won this show dressed up as a woman and now has $100,000 in the bank. It’s that ultimate reassurance for him that this is normal, this is what the world is about, drag queens are the real deal, gay people can get jobs! A parent’s fear for their child is if they come out of the closet or are different, they won’t be accepted. A lot of that is instilled in both of my parents, and the last thing they want is to have their kid not belong in the room. Now that he sees that I’m the Empress of the North, he’s having an easier time with it! Parents need time to process these things and you have to let them take that time.
That’s true of parents across the board. When there’s money involved and you get a big check, they shut up. That’s enough for them!
Exactly. Shut up, mom! Shut up!
I’m also curious about some of your runway looks this season. You were read last week for the paper skirt. What did you end up doing with the skirt after the episode?
I still have a little piece of it. BoBo has a piece of it. Rita took a piece of it. Everyone has a piece of that paper skirt because the fact that Michelle Visage came in the room and took me down, she said it was her pet peeve, and when she interrupted Stacey’s critique, that’s when I knew she was mad at me!
So you Mean Girls-ed the paper skirt and gave a piece of it to everybody!
It was like the Mean Girls ending! I said, “You get a piece and you get a piece! ConDRAGulations, everyone!”
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