Shangela’s exclusive interview: the Oscars, Ottawa and the queens of Drag Race Season 11

Photo credit: Erika Wagner

Growing up, young D.J. Pierce would always watch the annual Oscars. But this past Sunday, it was a dream come true for Pierce, better known by the drag name 'Shangela', to walk the red carpet at the 91st Academy Awards. “TV and film and this celebration has always been a great thing to see, and now to be a part of it was a dream come true,” says the drag star, in an exclusive interview with Ottawa Life Magazine.

Shangela has had a big year including her role in the Oscar nominated film, A Star is Born.  Now she has become the first known drag queen in HERstory to walk the red carpet at the Oscars, proudly representing the queer community and queer people of colour.

Before her appearance at the Academy Awards, she had just finished her 184-city tour around the world, the largest tour for a single drag queen ever!  We saw Shangela in her fourth appearance on RuPaul’s Drag Race in the Christmas special, Holi-Slay Spectacular. She had also just received the news that she was going to be featured on Ariana Grande’s song NASA on her latest album, Thank You, Next.

Now just back from the red carpet, she prepares for RuPaul’s Drag Show with Shangela in Ottawa this Thursday, February 28th at the Algonquin Commons Theatre.  She’s no stranger to Canada, having preformed in Montreal, Toronto, Saint John and Vancouver before, and now she can’t wait to hit the stage right here in the nation’s capital.

“I love Canada, it’s one of my favourite countries to visit because everyone has just been so embracing to all of us from RuPaul’s Drag Race,” she says. 

Apart from a hilarious and high energy performance, she’s telling fans to expect the unexpected as she says, “it’s Shangela, you know I always show up with a few surprises!”

It’s sure to be a sweet performance, almost as sweet as the Beavertail she would create if there was one dedicated to her.  Just for fun, we asked Shangela what would be on it and she says lots of powdered sugar and chocolate syrup. 

“You’d have to name it the Deep-Fried Death Drop,” she says.

Coming to Canada’s capital we wanted to know what Shangela would do if she were Prime Minster for a day.

“We would have to have a mandated daily hug, I don’t know who’s giving it to you, I don’t know where we’re getting it from but everybody should be hugged at least once a day to know that they’re special and loved,” she says.

Shangela’s performance in Ottawa is the same day that RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 11 premieres and she lets us in on some of her favourites.

“Of course, Miss Vanjie, I love a girl that goes home first then comes back, that’s very Shangela.  And Plastique [Tiara] is a member of our Haus of Edwards so I know she’s going to deliver something fun and fabulous and my good friend Miss Brooke Lynn Hytes, who’s also Canadian,” she says. 

So, what’s next for Shangela after her show in Ottawa?

She continues to work on getting on-camera roles and is in the process of getting her 90-minute comedy performance on a streaming service.  She even has a new t-shirt coming out March 1st that will say “Winter is Queer”, a play on words as the Game of Thrones fan prepares for Season 8.

You can keep up to date with the latest on Shangela by visiting her self-titled website and social media platforms including Instagram and Twitter.

Shangela hopes that through her performance in Ottawa and all the projects she has been working on, the queer community can continue to support each other and draw an inspiration from her journey, “I went to Drag Race a number of times, I never won, but I never gave up and you don’t always have to have a crown to be a queen,” she says.