Interview: RuPaul’s Drag Race – Derrick Barry
With last week’s Shady Politics challenge out of the way, RuPaul’s Drag Race’s top five for season eight were left to face one of the show’s biggest challenges. With this season’s ball challenge finally upon is, the queens were tasked with creating three separate looks as a part of the RuPaul Book Ball: On top of performing a Strangers with Candy-themed introductory musical number, they had to create three separate looks to wear as they walk down the runway. Drawing inspiration from their childhood for the Baby Drag Realness category, their mothers for That’s My Mama Realness and a dress made using elements of actual books for the Autobiographical Eleganza Extravaganza, their design skills were put to the ultimate test as they created a conceptual line that told their personal life story.
While the avant-garde drag artist Kim Chi ran away with the grand prize this time around, Derrick Barry and Bob the Drag Queen feel into the bottom two, lip syncing to Sylvester’s You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real) in an attempt to stay in the competition. Las Vegas’ own Britney Spears impersonator Derrick Barry unfortunately found herself eliminated despite valiant attempts to push her drag technique to new heights and shed her celebrity impersonator past while showing her true personality. While she may have been early on in her journey of self-discovery during her time on Drag Race, there’s no doubt that she truly has the talent and potential to utilize this new platform she’s been given as a launching pad for bigger and brighter things. And luckily for us, we had the chance to ask Derrick about her time on the show and her experiences across the season.
Michael Smith: How was your time on RuPaul’s Drag Race? Are you happy with how you were presented on the show?
Derrick Barry: My time showed what I came there to accomplish, and I’m happy with the journey that I had and that they set me up to have in the future, because without the show I would be Britney for the rest of my life. Now I will be known for bigger things and reach a larger audience.
MS: The main critique you received from the judges during the season was to show them an enhanced version of your own drag character; since this was the challenge where you really put the critique into practice, how do you feel you did?
DB: I wish I had gone out of my comfort zone more throughout the entire season, but I do think I developed and got better as the season progressed. Now I have such a wider variety of drag options than I did when I first started on Drag Race.
MS: How did you feel going into the Ball challenge, considering how design heavy it is?
DB: I was so scared. I knew that I wanted to sew a dress and I went into it 100%, but I think I still stayed in my comfort zone with the showgirl look. I wish I had gone bigger or more over the top competing with people like Kim Chi.
MS: You also received a lot of negative criticism from your fellow racers considering your portrayal of Britney is a large part of your act. Do you feel like this affected your performance during the Book Ball?
DB: Yeah, because I feel like I didn’t do any Britney in the episodes before. In the political challenge there was no Britney, so I don’t know why the cast was so hung up on it. And that’s why it was important for me to give four different looks in this episode. I think people just wanted to continue to put me in that box even though I was getting myself out of it.
MS: How has your career been going since the show started? Has the show had the kind of effect on your career that you expected or wanted?
DB: It’s been so much bigger than I ever anticipated. Now it’s not uncommon to have five shows in one week and it’s a big deal to travel to five different cities! It’s more than I wanted but everything I was hoping for.
MS: Is there anything special you had brought with you that we didn’t get to see on the show?
DB: There were lot of costumes I brought with me that I didn’t get a chance to wear, because we were creating so much. I had costumes made by Britney Spears, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry’s designers.
MS: Had you been able to choose a different lip sync song for yourself, what would you have chosen?
DB: Oh man, that’s tough! There are so many songs. I think I would have rather had a more pop song with the showgirl look. Something I could actually dance to – I know “You Make Me Feel” is dance but it’s more disco, and pop is my element.
MS: What was your favourite part about your time on Drag Race?
DB: I got to see the most inspiring drag queen in the world on a daily basis. There is no one bigger than RuPaul in the business, and he is such a kind and genuine person. He elevated me and didn’t put me down, like others did at times. I couldn’t have asked for more. I felt like he was a fan of mine as I am his.
Tune into RuPaul’s Drag Race next Monday at 9/8c on Logo!