Warning! This article contains major spoilers regarding the most recent episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 11. Read ahead at your own risk!
RuPaul’s Drag Race season 11‘s self-proclaimed GOAT (and lover of actual goats!) has departed to graze pastures new.
Though she proudly strutted her gorgeous figure into the Werk Room as the first Muslim queen to enter the Drag Race family, the Kenya-born Mercedes Iman Diamond’s confidence melted away as the weeks wore on, culminating in a lackluster performance as Ivanka Trump during Thursday’s live production of Trump: The Rusical that sent sent her packing after a fierce lip-sync against fellow bottom-two finisher Ra’Jah O’Hara.
Below, EW chats with the ousted lady about her time on the show, her love of four-legged farm animals, what it felt like sticking it to the Trump administration in this week’s politically satirical challenge, embracing her Muslim roots on national television, and what she really thinks of guest judge Tiffany Pollard admitting she fantasizes about “sitting on Rosie O’Donnell’s face.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Hello Mercedes! How are you? You must be so proud of what you accomplished on the show.
MERCEDES IMAN DIAMOND: I’m very proud of what I did. I’m happy, blessed, and grateful. It was four years of working hard to make it happen. [I applied] four times! Trust me, if I didn’t get on this season, I would’ve applied for season 12 or season 13. I’d never give up, honey!
You were so sweet this season, and you went through a lot across only four episodes. But at the end when you were packing your bags in the Werk Room, you seemed almost relieved. You were smiling, almost like a weight had been lifted off your shoulders. Why was that?
I didn’t want to leave heartbroken or crying. I made it to the show out of thousands of girls who audition every year. Some of them have auditioned 10 times! I made it in RuPaul’s book, and that made me so happy. I didn’t go as far as I would’ve liked, but it’s not the end for me, so why would I cry? If I cried, it would be a happy cry because I let the world hear my voice, saying that it’s ok to be Muslim, it’s ok to be gay, and that no one can tell you you’re doing something wrong. If I can have one child out there [listening to that message], that’s all that matters to me. I want them to see me with a beautiful smile, proud of what I’ve done!
I love that perspective and it’s important for the cameras, but did you have a moment when the cameras were off that you broke down?
I broke down when I read the letters my sisters wrote for me. It was like, wow, I am leaving. This is the end for right now, not the end forever! I got emotional then, but I’m grateful for everything that has happened to me. My life has changed!
Before Drag Race, you incorporated a lot of cultural influences from many different areas into your shows, but in front of the cameras you seemed so apprehensive to embrace your own Muslim heritage. Why was that such a difficult thing for you to do at first?
I left my family when I was 17. [They said] “You’re doing [drag], this is the wrong thing and you can’t do this because of religion!” So I chose to follow my heart. I had to process that because it’s a lot to be on national TV and talk about it. So, I held myself back. I didn’t know how people would accept me, especially what I went through on the No Fly List. On episode 3, when the girls were talking about religion, I specifically told them I didn’t want to talk about politics or religion. When I walked away from them [during that discussion], I realized what I did was wrong, rude, and disrespectful to my sisters — and not only to them, but to people who were going to see me on TV and ask, “Is she ashamed of her religion? We know she’s Muslim, but why doesn’t she want to talk about it?” That’s why I chose to apologize to my sisters and talk about it…. People think all these crazy things, especially nowadays. They think Muslims are terrorists, and I didn’t want that!
What has the response from the Muslim community been like now that the show has aired?
I’ve been getting so much love around the world. Kids around 14 or 15 years old send me messages thanking me. They say, “At least now we have hope in someone who went public and [said] on national TV that it’s ok to be gay no matter what your religion and culture are.” I’m so happy I made the decision to talk about it and be proud of who I am. Hopefully someone’s family will accept them now…. At the end of the day, the only person who can make you happy is yourself…. you have to love yourself first!
You made people happy in an indirect way that perhaps you didn’t anticipate with the “oppalens” moment. After that iconic flub on episode 2, have you practiced saying “opulence” and “own” with confidence?
I practiced! I worked with Monique Heart a couple weeks ago, and we practiced but it still wasn’t working! I was so scared for that episode because I thought I made a fool of myself because I couldn’t pronounce the word and I thought people were going to laugh at me and make fun of me, but it turned into the opposite. Even [“Opulence” singer] Brooke Candy messaged me! She tweeted about me and messaged me.
What did she say to you?
She was like, “Oh my God girl! I love you! You’re hilarious!” And I told her I was going to perform her song “Opulence” and she asked me to send it to her. A DJ made a mix of it and tagged me and I’ve been talking to him about doing a single.
So you’re going to do a single called “Opulence?”
Absolutely, yes! I’m going to do a single. It will be “opulence” but spelled wrong. [Laughs] It was crazy seeing [other Drag Race girls] talking about it, like Aquaria, Laganja Estranja, Yara Sofia, Jaidynn Diore Fierce, Ongina, Bianca Del Rio…. it got big!
I also love your obsession with goats. What is it about goats that you love so much?
Back home as a child, my great grandmother had goats! We had chickens, cows, and goats were my favorite! They’re so adorable. They’re cute. Oh God! And then there’s the fainting goat, which is beautiful. [It actually faints!] Google it and you’ll see! They’re really cute!
But you also eat the goats…
Of course you eat the goats! But you don’t eat the ones you have! I’m not going to kill my goat and eat it. They’re pets!
In the video I shot with you a few weeks ago, I asked what your favorite food is and you said your favorite food is goat! You are eating the goats!
Well, yes, but I’m not going to kill my goat. You buy the goat meat and cook it!
So just kill someone else’s goat!
[Laughs] You know how people have pigs as pets but then you go buy pig meat at the store? It’s the same. I don’t want people to think I’m killing my poor goats!
Okay, we’ll give you a pass on this one. Anyway, did this challenge and being a part of a musical that criticized the current presidential administration feel good to you as a way to stand against a political movement that has been accused of being anti-Muslim?
Yeah! I don’t know anything about that whole family. Like I said, I don’t follow them, I don’t listen to them, so I should have studied. But it was good to make fun of him. When Shuga Cain came out with her runway look, that cracked me up. When she had those Cheetos in the bag, I was like, “Bitch, there you go!”
And I loved that wild Tiffany Pollard energy on judging panel, too.
I always wanted to meet her! She’s a sweetheart!
What did you think of her saying that she wanted to sit on Rosie O’Donnell’s face?
You know what, I kind of want to see her do it. Let me join that! Do you really want to sit on her face? Go right ahead honey, I’ll sit right here and watch the show!
The last question I have: Do you have more tea on the Miss Vanjie/Brooke Lynn Hytes romance?
I had no idea something was going on! I thought they were just kissing as friends. I didn’t know there was a romance going on. I was like, “Wait a second bitch! Why is this s— happening?” I mean, I kiss my best friends, so maybe it was like if Vanjie was [eliminated], Brooke was giving her a last kiss to say goodbye? I didn’t know it was a thing going on!
RuPaul’s Drag Race season 11 returns Thursday at 9:00 p.m. ET on VH1.