By Joey Nolfi
June 11, 2020 at 01:30 PM EDT

There are two steadfast, hand-in-hand truths in the RuPaul's Drag Race universe: You can't be lifting up drag queens, and drag is not a contact sport. Season 3's India Ferrah — who was famously hoisted over the shoulder of Mimi Imfurst during one of the show's most shocking lip-sync moments — learned that the hard way. Now, as the Las Vegas-based queen currently battles to redeem her legacy across RuPaul's Drag Race All-Stars 5, she's opening up to EW about the off-camera impact the spectacular moment had on her career.

"I’ve grown so much and I’ve worked so hard to rebuild my reputation," Ferrah says in the latest Around the Table interview for EW's new digital Drag Race cover. Following the show, Ferrah had a public breakup with the art form, and went on to publicly criticize elements of the television series that thrust her into the mainstream spotlight. Part of the problem, she explains, stems from the stigma that followed her in the wake of the on-air conflict with Imfurst.

"I don’t think anyone truly understands what happened on season 3 with the pick-up. Every show I went to, it was, ‘What did you think when Mimi picked you up? Do you hate her? Do you still talk to her?’ It was always about Mimi Imfurst, it was never about what I was bringing to the show," Ferrah says. "That can f— with you, mentally, mostly when you put so much work into your art. That was really hard for me to cope with over the years."

Now, she says All-Stars 5 has given her a chance at redemption so she can show her growth as "India 2.0," a version of herself that led to a creative comeback in Nevada — which also saw her clashing with fellow Las Vegas showgirl Derrick Barry, a season 8 Drag Race alum and fellow returning All-Stars 5 contestant.

"Walking into All-Stars, I was definitely surprised to see India there because of her past in speaking out against a show that maybe didn’t highlight her in the best way or because of what happened with Mimi," Barry, who butted heads with Ferrah on the real-world circuit, remembers. "Honestly, I don’t like to be associated with Mimi, so I completely understand India’s thing with that. That’s a group consensus. There are a lot of girls that people do not want to work with, but they’ll be professional. Even though I was caught off guard, I was happy to see [India on All-Stars] if she was going to be a different person and changed for positive reasons."

Find out how Ferrah course-corrects her legacy when RuPaul's Drag Race All-Stars 5 airs Fridays at 8:00 p.m. on VH1. For more on the new season, read EW's new digital cover story here.

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RuPaul's Drag Race

RuPaul — as host, mentor, and creative inspiration — decides who's in and who's out.

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