Nina West's career as a post-Drag Race success story is reaching new heights.
After the comedy queen, actor, and queer activist entered last year's Oscar race with her voice at the center of the animated short film Coaster, EW can exclusively premiere the full eight-minute film online for the first time.
The film stars the RuPaul's Drag Race season 11 Miss Congeniality winner (real name Andrew Levitt) as a doting mother narrating her son's surreal world, as the young man’s home scoots along a winding course of roller coaster track as the ride’s twists and turns mimick the ups and downs of his personal life (including mounting bills, a chaotic love life, and a dire job search).
"When we conceptualized Coaster as a statement on adjusting to life’s inevitable curveballs, we never could have possibly imagined a world in which we’re all upside down. We were excited about our animated short screening at film festivals and more importantly, having the story spark a discussion about getting through those bumps in our lives. Suddenly, festivals were canceled and our world became a very bumpy ride. Putting it out now, forgoing the festivals only meant that Coaster and its message could reach not just a bigger audience, but one that was going through some of the biggest bumps this world has endured," the Coaster creative team — including director Amos Sussigan, executive producer Jean De Meuron, and longtime Disney animator Dan Lund — said to EW in an email statement about the unusual circumstances surrounding the film's official debut amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"In these unprecedented times and unpredictable roller coaster ride of life — not to mention a cloud of uncertainty over everything — it’s more important than ever to stay safely connected with friends, family, and loved ones," the statement continues. "In the wake of social distancing measures, political upheaval, and societal injustice, we decided to put our short film online to hopefully inspire and help bring some sort of joy into the world."
As part of the launch, West will host a Coaster viewing party on @entertainmentweekly's Instagram Live this Saturday, June 20 at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT. West has been using the social media platform to entertain and inform fans during the spread of COVID-19, often hosting all-ages book readings and performing children's musical numbers (in full drag) to entertain across demographics while locked down in quarantine.
"People still see drag as relegated to the nightlife, but I don’t necessarily see it that way,” West previously told EW of expanding his career prospects as a family-friend drag queen, adding that there are “things in motion that hopefully will further the conversation with Disney” in the near future. “I know that’s controversial and people are going to try to tear me down, but I think there’s a need and a market for it, and there’s space for people to say that they want something like this in their lives.”
Watch Coaster in full above, and follow @entertainmentweekly on Instagram to be notified when Saturday's viewing party begins.