Shangela Laquifa Wadley rose to prominence of season 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Despite being eliminated first from her season & during her reappearance on the show’s third season, Shangela placed in the top 4 of the recent All Stars 3 – something both her and her fans are incredibly proud of. Ahead of the All Stars finale, we caught up with Shangela as she prepared for the biggest moment of her career.
Rachael Scarsbrook: Hi Shangela. How are you doing and where does our interview find you today?
Shangela: Great honey, living a fabulous Hallaloo life.
RS: How did appearing in All Stars S3 compare with your initial drag race experience now that the show is so much of a focal point in the queer media?
S: Well I feel like this third time around we just have such a larger audience, both in the U.S. and around the world, that it means even more to me now to be able to be in the homes of so many and being able to showcase what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown and also to represent for my fans who have been around with me since season 2 of drag race.
RS: The earlier seasons of Drag Race were less big budget and high octane, was it quite a steep learning curve for you when returning as an All Star?
S: Girl please no! Honey I’ve been in RuPaul’s Drag Race so many times I should have frequent flyer miles, okay? Let me say this, I am a fan of the show even before I’m a contestant. I’ve watched every season, every episode; I love RuPaul’s Drag Race.
That being said, I knew coming back into this work room for the third time that it’s important to make every minute count; especially when the rules are how they are on All Stars, when you could end up in the bottom just once and you have no ability to save yourself. So it’s all dependent on alliances and how you play the game as well as how well you do in the challenges. So I just want to make every moment count and I feel like that’s what I accomplished.
RS: Local drag scenes are going from strength to strength across the world, if you could shine a spotlight on one up and coming artist, who would that be and why?
S: I’ve always believed in the talents of two of the girls from RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10, and those are Aquaria and Asia O’Hara. Both of those queens are fabulous. I’ve known Asia for like eight or ten years because I used to back-up dance for her as a little gay boy in Texas in her pageants. So to now see her get a shine on the RuPaul’s Drag Race stage, an opportunity to shine, I know she has so much amazing talent so I’m excited to see her. Also Aquaria; from New York City, is a young queen who really has made a strong name for herself, in and outside of New York, and I admire that. I admire hard working people and I’m excited to see what she brings as well.
RS: You’re set to appear alongside the likes of Lady Gaga in an upcoming film by Bradley Cooper, how do those kinds of roles compare with touring the world as an international drag superstar?
S: Oh well both of those mean the world to me because ever since I was a kid I wanted to work as an actor in Hollywood. I’ve had the great pleasure to be able do that on television and now to be able to do it in film, it’s the most amazing feeling to me in the world; equally so, my travelling and touring and connecting with fans, but it’s just part of my dream. I always wanted to be an actor and to work alongside some greats in this industry- especially being directed by Bradley Cooper and working alongside Lady Gaga- it’s a dream come true and there are no other words to describe it other than that. And I hope to have a long career as an actor in Hollywood.
RS: Sadly queer people continue to be marginalised by current governments and regimes, how do you think drag and Drag Race can help to encourage queer & marginalised youth ensure they are not forced into invisibility?
S: I think it’s so important to be able to have a show like RuPaul’s Drag Race on television and also being supported by a network like VH1 that is in the homes of millions across America. A lot of times people have negative views about queer people just because they don’t know queer people. They don’t know our experiences, they don’t know our community, and I think having a show like RuPaul’s Drag Race on television humanizes so many in our communities and tells our story and lets people see how much we share similar experiences. Also, they learn a lot about our community and knowledge definitely brings people closer together and I’m excited to be a part of that story.
RS: Your work for the Puerto Rico relief following the tragic earthquake has been phenomenal and incredibly commendable, do you think it is important for artist’s to use their platforms more vocally when it comes to global issues?
S: Yes. A lot of us didn’t sign up to be role models in our community but because of the popularity of RuPaul’s Drag Race and just so many people in the community looking up to us, we do have a platform and I think it’s very important that we continue to spread messages of equality, charity, involvement, and kindness – all those things that us queens represent in our daily lives. I think it’s so great to be able to share those on a grand platform and a lot of people find inspiration not only in our journeys but in the things that we do on a daily basis. I think the more people that think that it’s important to be involved, that it’s important to have a voice, it helps all of our community as a whole.
RS: If you could have any drag race contestant enter the All Stars race from a Halleloo box, who would it be and why?
S: Nobody that’s mine! Box belongs to me honey. If you see a halleloo box, the only person jumping out of that thing is Shangela Laquifa Wadley. I would host a box and friends gig in which I could jump out with my house- it would be me, Alyssa, Laguardia and a couple of previous winners like Bianca. We’d have a good time, that’d be the loudest box ever honey!
RS: First time around, you were first to be eliminated but you have gone on to become one of the Race’s most legendary cast members; looking back, would you have preferred to have stayed longer but not be an All Star, or kept things as is?
S: I wouldn’t change one thing about my journey. It has made me the entertainer, the professional, the drag person that I am today so I would not change one thing about my journey.
RS: What would your ideal runway challenge category entail?
S: Oh honey! Just let it be a Beyoncé impersonation runway. Beyoncé, Beyoncé, Beyoncé! And I would be thrilled; honey I ain’t going home that episode for sure!
RS: It may still be too soon to think about, but if you had found yourself lip syncing for your life in the final of All Stars, who would you be up against and what song would be your winning number?
S: You know what, let me go head-to-head with Beyoncé herself. Put her in the finals with me and put me and Beyoncé doing “Run The World” and let’s see whose rendition – cause I want to see Beyoncé pull a death drop. I need to see that!
RS: Drag Race has been become a hub for queer pop culture, how does it feel to be such an integral part of that ongoing brand and movement?
S: It’s amazing to be a part of this movement. I think we call it a movement in drag; people are so excited about drag and they’re so interested in it right now and I think it’s just amazing to be a part of that movement right now.
RS: As gender becomes less binary, more are turning to drag in order to express themselves; can you see a place for a more gender diverse Drag Race in future?
S: Oh god yes! I think that the direction that we’re going is a very bright and beautiful one and I invite everyone to try drag at least once, and that’s everybody from bio-queens to cisgender to trans to drag—there’s room for everybody in the drag world.
RS: If you had been given the chance to gift the All Stars crown to anyone but yourself, which queen would you choose and why?
S: I think I’m going to leave that one alone. I want it, it’s mine!
RS: Who did you feel was your biggest competitor coming in to All Stars Season 3 and why?
S: I mean, it was hard to pick who was the biggest competitor because this is All Stars; everyone is going to be performing at their highest level, and you never know who has what tricks or stunts up their sleeve.
RS: Now that All Stars is over, what do you see for the future of Shanegla Laquifa Wadley?
S: With regards to television and film, first of all I will be appearing in the sequel to Hurricane Bianca, Hurricane Bianca 2, out this summer. I have a role in the new film, A Star is Born, with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper that will be out this fall in theaters, so I would love for people to go and check that out. Also, I have new music starting with my newest single, “Pay Me”—a dance track featuring producer Ryan Skyy—which will be available on iTunes, anywhere music is sold. In addition to that, I’m going to be continuing touring the world this year and I have a brand new comedy show called “Shangela is Shook” in which I’ll be touring in the UK and later this year in Australia with more to be added.
Thank you so much for your time Shangela, and we can’t wait to experience all of your upcoming projects!