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RuPaul's Drag Race returning queen opens up about her second chance

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Mama Ru left her remaining drag daughters — and audiences at home — hanging at the end of last week’s cliffhanger episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, making a mysterious phone call to an unidentified queen and asking her to return to the competition following the shocking elimination of both Laila McQueen and Dax Exclamationpoint.

Fans speculated on the return of everyone from season 7’s Katya to seemingly perennial returnee Shangela, but during Monday night’s episode, RuPaul revealed Naysha Lopez as this season’s resurrected queen.

Though she was eliminated on season 8’s first episode, Lopez is back for more, and she’s talking to EW about missing that Pitch Perfect performance, taking a nasty fall during the runway challenge, and what it feels like to be hit in the face with a broom by Thorgy Thor.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When you were eliminated, did you have any idea that you were going to be coming back at all, let alone as soon as you did?

NAYSHA LOPEZ: Absolutely not! When I left, I did think, “Please let me have made a big enough impression to be that one called back!” I never had any idea that it would be so soon. I literally got home and got in the car and [when Ru called] I was like, “B—, I haven’t even unpacked! I’m on my way!”

Why do you think they chose you to come back?

The fact that [RuPaul] was tired of looking at all of those monsters, I’m sure. [Laughs.] No, I’m kidding. After watching the second episode and seeing such a lackluster performance, [I think Ru] said, “You know what, I sent someone home who was willing to work.” In [the] lip sync [between Laila and Dax] — not saying they didn’t work hard in the season — but particularly in the lip sync they didn’t even try, you know? And I think it kind of struck a chord, and [Ru said], “You know what, let me bring this b— back and give her another chance!” I’m not mad at it [laughs].

How does it feel knowing that no queen who has returned after being eliminated has gone on to win RuPaul’s Drag Race?

I’m definitely skating on thin ice. It’s always easier to send somebody home that’s already been sent home. If I’m ever in the bottom two, it’s kind of like, “Well, she got her second chance already; girl, go home!” I feel like I have to work so much harder and prove myself so much more to make sure that I’m not in the bottom two. I feel like if I make the bottom two, then for sure I’m going home.

What makes you stand out from other queens who’ve returned to the show? Or are there similar qualities to each of you?

Trixie works really hard, and she really loves what she does. In that sense, I’m very similar to Trixie.

There was Shangela, too! That’s the big one!

Oh my God! How dare I not remember! I was with her yesterday! Shangela, of course! [Shangela is] one of the hardest-working queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race. There are people who do this show who don’t necessarily “win,” but they win. And Shangela is one of those people. She’s always working, she has such a great work ethic, and that’s something I can definitely relate to and compare my self to.

Shangela dabbled in music after her time on the show as well. Is that something you’d consider doing, even if you don’t win?

Yeah! I have a really good friend of mine, he’s a pretty well known DJ, his name is Hector Cindel — DJ Cindel — and we are working on music right now. It’s a different type of sound — it’s more of a club circuit type of dance music — and it’s very representative of what I like to dance to and listen to.

How did it feel to be hit in the face with a broom by Thorgy during that acting challenge? Did you feel like she was letting out some pent-up anger because you returned to the competition?

Thorgy and I are actually really cool, and I love her to death. We choreographed that. It was funny because I did get beat up a little bit, even practicing. [I counted down the move], and then she took a swing and actually hit me! I was like, “Oh b—, that was personal!” [Laughs.] That was the rehearsal, but when we actually did it, we choreographed it really well. It looked good. Mama Ru even said that the timing on it was perfect.

Before they brought you back, you missed one challenge. Do you think you would have done well during the Pitch Perfect challenge last week?

Oh my God, yeah! I wanted a dance challenge, and I’m watching it [at home] like, “Son of a b—! That’s exactly what I wanted, and I’m sitting my ass at home!” I was furious! But it was really cool to watch, and everyone did so well, and I was so happy for Chi-Chi [winning the challenge]. She’s a great dancer. But, it was the one challenge I wanted, and it was the one challenge I missed.

What happened when you fell on the runway? I’m assuming you usually don’t perform in roller skates.

Of course I didn’t want them to show that I fell, but you know what, that’s not what’s important. What’s important is that I got my ass up! Just like anything in life, when you fall, it doesn’t matter how hard you fall, what matters is if you’re going to get up or not. I still look kind of gorgeous when I fell.

RuPaul’s Drag Race airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Logo.