By Joey Nolfi
May 14, 2020 at 12:03 PM EDT
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Sash-eh this way!

In the great tradition of Brooke Lynn Hytes and Jackie Cox, Canadian excellence is the name of the game as Canada's Drag Race has announced its inaugural cast of queens who will compete to become the international spin-off's first crowned royal.

To be judged by a three-pronged panel of experts including Hytes (RuPaul's Drag Race season 11 runner-up), Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman (UnREAL actor), and Stacey McKenzie (international fashion muse and America's Next Top Model runway coach) across 10 one-hour episodes, the group consists of of 12 ladies vying for Canada's fiercest prize, all hailing from both Canadian coasts (and one New York City-based performer). Among the competitors are a reigning Miss Black Continental pageant winner, a two-spirit indigenous artist, a cabaret star, a master of special effects makeup, a YouTube beauty star, a seasoned French-Canadian reality TV show veteran, and a former children's TV show host.

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Prior to the cast announcement, EW exclusively revealed Monday five first-look photos from Canada's Drag Race, while the judges spilled details on what to expect from the international spin-off, including classic challenges (like the Snatch Game) gauging the queens' singing, dancing, acting, impersonation, and sewing skills — all remixed with a Canadian twist as the ladies duke it out for a cash prize of $100,000.

"I think that the essence of the challenges is similar to RuPaul’s Drag Race, but they’re specific to Canada," judge Bowyer-Chapman told EW. "There are instantly recognizable Easter eggs for Canadians, but they’re universally comedic enough that other audiences won’t be left out of the joke. Seeing these queens perform, this isn’t Drag Race-lite, this is Drag Race full-stop!"

Canada's Drag Race premieres Thursday, July 2 on Crave in Canada, and will be available on the WOW Presents Plus subscription streaming app in global territories. See the full cast of queens (with network-provided biographical information) below, and read EW's exclusive preview here.

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Anastarzia Anaquway (Toronto, ON)

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  • Anastarzia has won more than 15 pageants including Miss Canada International, Miss Gay Toronto, and she is the reigning Miss Black Continental at Large.
  • Her drag is inspired by her Caribbean roots and is heavily influenced by the American drag pageant scene.

“Being on Drag Race is the culmination of an amazing 17-year career. It allows me to represent all the little black boys and girls in third world countries like the Bahamas that have huge dreams but no resources to make them a reality.”

BOA (Toronto, ON)

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  • Her drag name “BOA” is actually her real last name and nickname growing up. BOA is also an acronym for “Bitch on Arrival.”
  • Although she doesn’t consider herself a comedy queen, she tends to grab attention of her audiences with goofy mannerisms and quick wit on a mic, but put her in a 3-inch block heel and she’ll high kick and cartwheel!

“I love drag because it gives me the opportunity to be my authentic, goofy self and bring my audience happiness. When an audience is happy, so am I! I like my drag to allow people to let loose, have fun, laugh and forget about all the negativity in the world.”

Ilona Verley (Vancouver, BC)

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  • Ilona Verley is a two-spirit indigenous artist who grew up Nlaka'pamux and strives to be the representation she wished she had seen growing up watching mainstream media.
  • Ilona is always serving monochromatic head to toe pastel looks and has a strong social media presence.

“Drag is important to me as it is how I visually express how I see myself on the inside, and how I manifest my female energy as a two-spirit person!”

Jimbo (Victoria, BC)

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  • Jimbo has a background in clowning and loves to incorporate elements of that into her drag.
  • As a cabaret performer, Jimbo loves standup and singing and wants to showcase that side of drag. She likes her audience to find laughter in the uncomfortable.

“Drag is the perfect gateway for self-discovery and self-expression. It’s the beautiful culmination of courage, joy, performance, and artistry that inspires and entertains. Drag is a personal and political statement that challenges the social constructs to help inspire change in the world.”

Juice Boxx (Toronto, ON)

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  • Juice Boxx is bright, bubbly sinful, and sexy, and always adds a little bit of spice.
  • She has a Bachelor of Fine Arts – Visual Arts from the University of Windsor and a Diploma of Makeup Artistry and Special FXfrom CMU.

“I’m so excited to be on the first season of Canada's Drag Race and I can’t wait to show the world how incredible Canadian drag really is.”

Kiara (Montréal, QC)

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  • Kiara recently quit her job and put school on pause to focus full-time on drag.
  • Kiara is one of very few queens of color in the Québec drag scene. She is proud to represent her community.

“Being on Canada's Drag Race is a dream come true. I’m beyond excited to be on my favorite TV show and I can’t wait to make queer Canadian her-story!”

Kyne (Kitchener-Waterloo, ON)

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  • Kyne is a YouTube star with more than 100,000 subscribers to her channel, which focuses on her love for makeup, costumes, hair, and art.
  • Kyne was introduced to the divas from the karaoke machine, where she and her family loved to sing Celine Dion and Whitney Houston.

“Drag is my vehicle for all my joy, ambition and creative energy. It makes me feel alive.”

Lemon (New York City, NY via Toronto, ON)

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  • Lemon was chosen by RuPaul's Drag Race winner Sasha Velour to be one of the models in her New York Fashion Week collaboration with Opening Ceremony.
  • Lemon wants to bring the NYC Drag Scene influence to Canada.

“I am so excited to be on Canada's Drag Race so I can show the world I’m not only that bitch, I’m that *Canadian* bitch.”

Priyanka (Toronto, ON)

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  • She is no stranger to the camera, having worked as a kids TV host for years before she switched to a full-time career in drag.
  • She graced the cover of Toronto’s NOW Magazine in 2019 when she was voted Favorite Toronto Drag Queen by their readers.

“I love drag so much. I had a drag queen perform at my 26th birthday party and they suggested I do drag. Now three titles, two music videos, and one big opportunity to be on Canada's Drag Race. I could be Canada’s First Ever Drag Superstar…what’s my name?!”

Rita Baga (Montréal, QC)

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  • Rita Baga is very involved in the LGBTQ+ community in Montréal and has been a driving force as part of the bid committee that submitted the city for World Pride 2023.
  • Rita Baga has also been a part of many TV shows in Quebec, including her own reality show ILS DE JOUR, ELLES DE SOIR, FAMILY FEUD, LES JOKERS, CODE F, and BONSOIR/BONSOIR.

“I'm beyond excited to be part of this journey! I want to make my province proud and to be the very first francophone to own a Drag Superstar title. Dreams DO come true!”

Scarlett BoBo (Toronto, ON)

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  • Scarlett Bobo created and produces Empire's Ball, a drag competition which she uses as a platform to talk about community needs and to inspire the younger generation of queer youth.
  • Scarlett Bobo went to circus school because she was bored! She learned to eat fire, light herself on fire, and perform aerial skills. 

“I love, love, LOVE doing drag because it allows me to live my truth every day and there are no rules to what I am allowed to do, say, or accomplish. Canada's Drag Race lets me express every side of myself and show others how to be fearless and authentic. I want to prove that you can stay true to who you are, no matter what.”

Tynomi Banks (Toronto, ON)

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  • Tynomi is known as the Dancing Queen of Toronto; she is one of the most celebrated drag queens in the city.
  • The first time her mother saw her in drag was when she performed at World Pride 2014 in Toronto.

“Tynomi Banks is fun, flirty, and fashionable. She will entertain you, all the while stealing your man in plain sight and you won't even realize it's happening.”

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