RuPaul's Drag Race runner-up Brooke Lynn Hytes is proudly dancing on her own
The queen of the north warmed our hearts (and heated up the competition) this season.
The dancing queen of the north has performed her final pirouette on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Season 11’s fan-favorite Torontonian Brooke Lynn Hytes put up a valiant fight against fellow finalist Yvie Oddly in an epic lip-sync duel for the crown on Thursday night’s grand finale, though her fierce moves and undeniable charisma (complete with a satirical, glistening catsuit reveal and heavy “stank” generously applied!) came up just short of winning the title.
While she doesn’t have a crown and scepter, Brooke still snatched America’s hearts with her eye-poppingly intricate challenge looks (she might be the queen with the most consecutive runway toots in her-story) and, of course, her drunk-mom-hides-from-the-kids aesthetic on constant display in Untucked.
In the wake of her Drag Race finish, Brooke had a chat with EW about her time on the show, planning for the finale, and twirling our attention around her finger as swiftly as her ballet slippers turn moves on stage. Read on for the full conversation.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Hello Brooke! How do you feel, the day after?
BROOKE LYNN HYTES: I feel wonderful! I’m a little tired. I feel really good, minus the exhaustion!
If anyone has earned the right to feel exhausted, it’s you! You have so much to be proud of. Last night on Twitter, you said second is actually first in Canadian, and I love that you have a sense of humor about this. You’re all stars in the end. What are you most looking forward to doing with this new platform you have?
People forget we’ve all done so well, and all of our lives have changed for the better because of this. I won in so many other ways. I have a couple of irons in the fire that I can’t talk about right now because of contractual obligations. I’m going to be doing a lot of touring — I think I’m fully booked until December right now, so I’m going to go non-stop all summer and fall. I’m not really sure what else I’d like to do right now, I’m just waiting to see which doors open up to me. I want to explore more on the theater side…. I’m looking to get into some modeling work as well and some runway as well.
I would love to see you on a runway! Your moves were all so impressive this season, and I’ve always had this fantasy of you doing a new kind of drag tour that’s like a classic ballet mixed with contemporary drag. Are you planning a one-woman show?
Absolutely! I’m working on coming up with a one-woman show, I just don’t have time to sit down and write it right now. But soon!
You said during the finale that dance was so hard on your body that you couldn’t really do it anymore, and drag was the next logical option. Can you elaborate more on that story?
I was with a touring ballet company. I was burned out. We were dancing on stages that you shouldn’t be doing ballet on, like concrete floors. It wrecked my body a little bit. Drag has always been my first love, so, I love dance, but I love drag more, and it made sense to transition.
I love that you brought all those talents together this season. Especially in the final lip sync! I loved the jacket you wore that said “reveal” all over it. Why did you want to satirize the art of reveals?
I was trying to come up with cool ideas for what kind of reveal I could do, because everything has been done. I first decided to do the shoe reveal, which had never been done before. That was my one little original reveal. Because everyone expects you to do a reveal, I thought it’d be funny if I made fun of it and came out in a big jacket that was obviously a reveal, but also said “reveal” all over it.
When someone like Aquaria comes out looking like a loofah, we knew what was going to happen…
You already know, I already know, so, let’s have a good laugh about it together! If it’s going to be obvious, you should acknowledge it. It’s going to be funnier!
I think you and Yvie approached the final lip sync in two very different ways: Yvie told more of a narrative and connected with the emotion of the song, and you were doing an all-out spectacle with dazzling dance moves. Did you prepare ahead of time or were you improvising?
It was all improvisation. I never really choreograph, I just go with the flow in the moment. That’s just me doing my thing! I know [what I’m going to do at] certain points of the song, but I would say 95 percent of it is just improv.
In hindsight, do you wish you’d choreographed something knowing that what you did got you the runner-up slot?
No, I don’t think that would’ve changed the outcome for me at all. I think it was going to be what it was going to be, regardless. I’m very proud of how I did it. I had an amazing time on the finale, I was so happy that night!
What did it feel like to you the second you heard Ru announce Yvie as the winner at the crowning party? I imagine it’s painful but also a relief.
Yeah, it was a relief. I thought it was going to be her, so I wasn’t surprised. It was nice that it was finished and that chapter was closed. I’m very happy for Yvie. She’s an amazing queen and a true original, and stuck to her guns and has always been 100 percent herself the whole season. I’m happy for her. She’s worked hard and there’s no ill will or bitter feelings. I’m happy it’s done we can move on with our lives and see what happens next.
Statistically, you had the most challenge wins. What made you think you wouldn’t win with that record?
I’m a worst-case-scenario kind of girl. That way I’m never disappointed. I just had a feeling!
Were you surprised that, after an entire season of saying she wanted to send Yvie home, Silky picked you to lip sync against?
I was a little surprised, but I knew that’s who everyone expected her to pick and I knew she wasn’t going to do that just to spite everyone. She really mulled it over for a second.
Did you have a conversation about why she picked you?
Yeah, she said she wasn’t going to give the people what they wanted! She said that to me on stage! She wasn’t going to give them the satisfaction.
You came across as so sweet on the finale, and you also cultivated a very sweet image on the show, but I’m sure you saw the comments online after the reunion, because people got a different impression of you after that episode. What did you think about that?
I was honest and direct on the reunion. I’m assuming you’re talking about the whole thing with Scarlet [Envy]. I was honest and kept it 100. I said, “I didn’t care for you on the show, I didn’t like you on the show.” The show was filmed a year ago. I’ve since changed my tune. I think Scarlet is amazing. She’s so talented and funny. The show is a polarizing experience and brings out the best and worst in everybody. Sometimes you gel with people and sometimes you don’t. I don’t understand why people think I was being rude or bitchy. I ended by saying that I really like her and she’s awesome, and I apologized for hurting her feelings and saying that everyone hated her, which I shouldn’t have said. I don’t really care if people’s opinions changed. I’m not a saint or a perfect person. I make mistakes and I own up to them. I like Scarlet and I don’t have a problem with her!
I interview a lot of Drag Race girls, and it’s a common frustration among them that certain fans, once they see something like an argument or disagreement on the show, they assume it’s like that forever and they don’t apply the same standards of normal human relationship to the Drag Race girls. Why is that?
I think they just see us as characters and not actual human beings. They don’t get the timeline of the show. The show was filmed a year ago, and so much can change in a year. I don’t think they’re very kind or understanding with the way things work and the way people can change or the stress everyone is under while filming the show. A lot of the things that are said in the heat of the moment, people don’t actually mean.
Speaking of relationships, one of my friends saw you in public a few months ago and said a photo of Vanjie was your background, but on the reunion you said you guys were no longer together. Is there more to the story?
Vanjie hasn’t been my phone background since October. My phone background is me! There’s no more to the story. We dated for three or four months after the show wrapped and it just didn’t work out for different reasons. We’re still good friends, we’re on tour together, we talk every day, and we’re in a good place. We’re waiting to see what happens in the future!
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