The resilient Daenerys Stormborn of the House RuPaul’s Drag Race might have fallen victim to a shocking All Stars twist during Thursday night’s season finale, but you can rest assured she’s going to get back up. Though she was heavily favored to win the spin-off series’ third edition against fellow competitors Kennedy Davenport, BeBe Zahara Benet, and eventual champ Trixie Mattel, a jury of Shangela’s peers — given the power of elimination by Mama Ru — made the shocking decision to give the presumed frontrunner the boot as the top four whittled down to a diva duo.
Shortly after the episode aired, EW had a chat with Shangela to get her thoughts on the epic conclusion to a dramatic season, how gagged she was that her most vocal critic, Thorgy, became the only ousted queen who voted to keep her in the competition, and how she thinks Drag Race‘s notorious band of shady fans should react to Trixie’s victory. Read on for the full interview (Halleloo!).
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Shangela! It’s so good to speak with you! I just wish it were under better circumstances. How are you holding up?
SHANGELA: Oh, honey. I’ve always had the spirit of a survivor. I refer to myself as Daenerys Stormborn [from Game of Thrones]. Even though the battle didn’t go in my favor, I will forever remain a queen. Halleloo!
Yes you certainly will! But, Miss Shangela, the internet is pissed that their queen didn’t win, and Trixie is getting dragged on Twitter right now. How do you feel about that?
I haven’t been on social media much. I’ve been flying from L.A. to Philadelphia. Honey, I’ve been inundated with so much love, texts, messages…. I‘ve seen a little bit of [the backlash], but I’m trying not to get involved in it right now. I have to process my own feelings, and at the same time I’m in the middle of a 70-city tour. I’m going to continue doing what I’ve been doing since day one, which is speaking to students across the U.S., performing for people around the world, and spreading my love the best that I can, like an entertainment professional, you know?
Something in line with that mission would be standing against these vicious things people are saying about Trixie. If you could speak to the fanswho are saying these things, what would you say?
The people who are just speaking their feelings, if they feel so invested in my journey and they feel disappointed, I identify with that! I really do. But, even in a time of disappointment, I don’t think sending hate or negativity is the way to deal with it. The way I’ve always dealt with disappointment or challenges in my life is to find the bright spot and focus on it. Keep working hard and you will have your day in the sun. That’s how I hope my fans will be. Don’t throw hate at Trixie. She wasn’t even on the jury who cut the four finalists down to the top two. But I wouldn’t throw hate to [the eliminated] girls, either. The best way to move forward is to do just that: move forward with love and light. And please, keep sending me these lovely messages. I need them and I appreciate them. I was also disappointed [by not winning], but the only thing you can control in life — even when the rules change — is how you react. And the way that I’m reacting is to stay motivated. Trust me, honey, I will never give up. I’m Daenerys Stormborn!
But I feel like this is a recurring theme every season. Why do you think Drag Race fans, in particular, get so vicious about this show?
Wait a minute, I have to say this: I don’t think that our fans are any different or more vicious than any competition that has a legion of fans. Look at sports. I’m in Philadelphia right now. You want to talk about crazy, you talk about these…. I don’t even know much about football…. the Eagles, right? These fans, they burned the city down [after the Super Bowl]. You don’t see Drag Race fans running around burning the city! We love that our fans are invested. Should we feed into the negativity? No. But should we honor their feelings? Yes, I think we should! Baby, when you have grief, you have to feel it. To our fans, I say go ahead, feel your feelings, just don’t stay in them too long. We’re all going forward and we’re all going to win in the end!
I feel like the queens on this show usually always take the attitude of, well, we should hush the angry fans up. I like that you don’t see it that way.
The people who do that are usually the girls that sometimes might not represent the most positive things themselves. Some of these girls, and I’m not going to name any names, wanted to start a whole anti-bullying campaign right after the second and third episode of All Stars 3. I’m all for anti-bullying, but I think I’ve represented that my entire life. I don’t have to start a brand new campaign. They were only doing it because, at the time, they were experiencing bullying. Later on down the season when other girls were experiencing bullying, they were dead silent on the anti-bullying campaign! You have to watch out for those girls. In the end, it turns out they were some of the biggest bullies in the end. You have to watch where your messages are coming from and always be true to you.
I think I know exactly which queen you’re talking about there. But I won’t push you to reveal!
Just let it be! [Laughs]
Were you surprised that only one queen — Thorgy of all people — voted for you to advance to the top two?
Yeah, I mean, I was not surprised when I didn’t get voted to move from the four to the two, especially after I knew it was going to be the eliminated girls voting. I know you’d love to see humanity shine through here, but I know people. So I had a feeling this wasn’t going in my direction. I was very disappointed that those became the rules. But, to see that none of the girls gave me any points — except for Thorgy — yes, I was cracked on that point. In life, you can’t control what other people are going to do; you can’t control how they’re going to behave. All you can control is how you’re going to react. I’ve been a survivor my entire life, I’ve worked hard to get to where I am. I hope I can represent to my fans that if you never give up in life, you can win! When I came in the door and was able to showcase to the world what I’ve evolved into, I felt like I won…. if you stay true to who you are and are proud of what you’ve done, you win. And I definitely feel like I’m walking home with a win.
Ru shifting that power to the queens for Drag Race All Stars might make for good TV, but does it allow for the real talent of drag to prevail? Do you think the format should revert back to the judges deciding?
Take a look at what happened this season, and take a look at how the fans are reacting. Take the temperature of the world and I think you’ll get your answer. Honestly, I wish that the rules had been different in the end. Maybe if we’d been aware that was going to be the twist, I would’ve played the game a little differently. But, it is a game as well as a reality show. It’s not like the Olympics; it is a reality TV show where there can be twists and turns that you don’t expect. You just have to recognize that’s what you signed up for. Walking into the Werk Room, I wanted to make the most of every moment because I never knew when I was going to be gone. Looking back, I did that.
And I’m going to be making the most of every moment ahead. I have a new single called “Pay Me” that just dropped on iTunes yesterday. And since RuPaul didn’t pay me, maybe somebody else will! I also have two new movies this year: Hurricane Bianca 2, the sequel that comes out this summer, and I have a role in A Star Is Born with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper that will be out this fall. So, I feel like a winner. I’m going to keep moving and working in this industry. I’m in the middle of a 70-city tour right now and I have a new comedy tour coming up called Shangela is Shook, which is appropriately titled, right? We gonna keep it moving, honey! Halleloo!