World of Wonder founders and filmmakers duo, Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato have championed queer representation for decades.
Bailey told The Hollywood Reporter,
It’s become a mission for us.”
Barbato and Bailey will receive The Hollywood Reporter‘s Impact Award at the upcoming Banff World Media Festival beginning this weekend.
Bailey says getting broadcast execs to order local versions has always been an uphill climb.
Wherever [Drag Race] has been on television in another country, it’s done really well. It’s just the anxiety of the gatekeeper thinking their audience is too conservative or won’t appreciate drag.”
The future WOW co-founders met at a graduate film program at NYU in the 80s. They have faced constant rejection and challenges during their careers pitching projects that are all things queer and drag culture.
Just having someone who will cheer you on, lift you up and say,
‘It’s not as bad as you think it is,’
is truly priceless.”
Barbato says surrounding themselves with talented people is their secret weapon,
We have so many amazing people who work at World of Wonder and many of them for decades. We try and hire people who are smarter than we are.”
But Drag culture has now sparked a new anti-transgender legislation in the U.S. Barbato says,
It’s the last gasp of the patriarchy. It’s the politics of distraction. This is temporary. We’re moving forward. They’re trying to move backwards.
Forward movements always win.”
But the opposition has just super-fueled WOW’s creative mission. Barbato adds,
I don’t think there was ever any other choice. We’ve always been attracted to people who are either friends or talent. They’ve often been people like us, part of our tribe, slightly on the fringe, on the margins.
It felt like we were reporting to duty, to create opportunities for visibility.”
Speaking of visibility, this week out Congressman Robert Garcia delivered a stirring speech from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives citing RuPaul’s Drag Race and RuPaul Charles saying,
The show has served as a critical space to discuss issues around inclusion, trans rights, mental health and self worth.
And this message couldn’t be more important as the LGBTQ-plus community continues to fight for equality and acceptance.”
What he said.
ConDRAGulations on their worldwide Impact, to WOW co-founders, Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, visionaries and exceptional humans I am proud to share a tribe with and call my friends.
Thank you. The LGBTQ community is in your debt.
World of Wonder Co-Founders Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato Set for Banff Fest Conversation https://t.co/oMx0i4CFWL— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) April 20, 2023
(Photo, Mathe Anderson; via THR)