‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ features queens who will fight for LGBTQ rights

Season 15 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” heralded a major change for the show, as it moved from VH1 to MTV and went from a 90-minute to 60-minute format. It was up to casting directors Ethan Petersen and Goloka Bolte to assemble a group of queens who would lay the groundwork for a new era.

According to Bolte, “After 15 seasons and the popularity of Drag Race, word is spreading fast that we are in the process of releasing. But we can never drop the chance queens apply and always make sure we seek out and encourage queens to try.

Along with bank recommendations and internet research, Bolte says part of his casting process involves contacting bars and clubs around the country. “And we attend drag shows when we can.”

Bolte adds, “When we start casting for a new season, I’ll sit down with the team and compare rosters, look at who we liked in past auditions and who we think might be ready this time around. We like to find those queens who have never applied before or who might be huge talents but aren’t active on social media and encourage them to make a tape. Sometimes they just need a little push.

One such example was Sasha Colby who was later crowned the winner of season 15. As a legend of the drag scene, Bolte hoped that Colby, who “embodies strength, authenticity and vulnerability”, would audition – and she finally did. “Fortunately, she felt Season 15 was her time.”

With a mix of newfangled queens comes the magic of the series. “It’s great to have the seasoned elite queen next to queens who have never performed on stage before,” says Petersen.

Bolte adds: “We have to think [about] how the [queens] we will represent and be a voice for the drag community…and Sasha is a perfect example of that.

And that’s one of the main qualities that Petersen and Bolte keep in mind when casting – the ability to be open. “The vulnerability is huge,” says Bolte. “We are always looking for authenticity. But it’s not just these two factors. Being open to discussing fears and struggles, the qualities that make the audience fall in love with someone as a character is also essential. According to Bolte, “We cannot forget skills. “Drag Race” is different from other reality competition series, and our queens must be able to lip-sync, act, dance, do comedy, choreography, write lyrics or scenes, sewing and much more. So we’re looking for those great artists who can do a bit of everything.

Petersen notes that the casting team is looking for “people who are going to step up and fight” for the LGBTQ+ community. “We are in a world where ‘Drag Race’ [have become] a beacon of hope for many people, and in these scary times for our community, it’s important to put people on the show who will fight and be examples to help evoke change.

The recent attacks on demographics came after Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a bill banning drag shows in public spaces out of ‘fear’ for the safety of children, a highly publicized bill that made national news amid a mountain of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. being introduced across the United States

“I think it’s ignorance and a misunderstanding of the art form,” says Bolte. “Drag represents a vibrant and inclusive community that celebrates individuality, creativity and positivity.”

Petersen adds, “For anyone who thinks drag is harmful to children, I know for a fact that drag has saved lives. I’ve watched thousands of drag videos of every type of queen you can imagine. heard their stories [and] I’ve heard their struggles…for anyone to diminish or prevent the spread of this art form…it’s disheartening, but it just makes me want to fight harder.

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” producer, World of Wonder, has partnered with the ACLU to create the Drag Defense Fund in response to these attacks.

“It’s never been more vital to be an ally in advocating for and protecting the rights of drag performers and the LGBTQ community,” Bolte says. Petersen adds, “Use your voice, register to vote, post and share what drag means to you. You never know who is going to hear this and how your story might change their mindset.

Petersen adds, “You don’t have to be a cookie cutter of something you’ve seen before. Be yourself.”

And how does the “Drag Race” team decide if someone is ready to appear next season? “It all comes down to the band. In many ways, the audition tape is the show’s first challenge. It’s not about how many years someone has been dragging, it’s about their creativity, character development and drag skills, and if a queen can wow us in her gang, she has a good chance of doing well on the show.” She adds, “We watch their growth year on year – I feel like a proud mom when I see a queen’s progress from her first band to being a contestant. fierce in its own right.”

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