Shangela Laquifa Wadley, a popular drag queen and current contestant on “RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars,” will bring drag to UNC when she visits on Wednesday, Feb. 28 to perform in the Student Union.
“We’re looking at having our biggest drag show we’ve ever had at UNC,” said junior Julian Esain, a member of the CUAB diversity committee. “It’s a very different type of event, which was kind of the mindset we were having when we booked it last year when I was diversity chair. There’s going to be a lip sync, and there’s also going to be a fashion show hosted by Shangela.”
First-year Danny Bowen said that Wadley, who gained popularity after first appearing on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” in 2010, has recently gained even more traction in the drag world with her current season of the show. This popularity has allowed her, as well as other popular queens, to express positive messages outside of drag.
“A good part is that having drag on a national stage gives queer people the chance to represent themselves in the media, because a lot of times other people choose how queer people are represented, and it’s not always good,” Bowen said. “With ‘Drag Race,’ yeah it is a competition, and it is primarily about drag, but people do talk about their own personal experiences on there, and it truly helps.”
Sophomore Shiva Bakhtiyari agreed that this event could potentially have a bigger impact than simply as a unique form of entertainment.
“I think it’s amazing that people are embracing it, and that the drag queens themselves are going and spreading positive messages about self-worth,” Bakhtiyari said. “I think they’re spreading positive messages, and with that people want to receive it, and I find them very inspiring.”
This kind of impact is exactly what CUAB’s diversity committee is hoping to achieve with this event, and why the organization decided to book Wadley in the first place.
“A huge purpose of the diversity committee is to really showcase different identities and different experiences and backgrounds, and I think as much as we’ve tried to have different events, and reach out to different communities and identities, a drag show is a really big part,” Esain said. “(I thought) that bringing someone like Shangela, who is currently on top of her game, would be a very great opportunity to showcase, and have a drag show, and get people involved and interested in this.”
Wadley will be giving her own lip sync performance, which contestants perform during each episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race." Esain said he hopes the fashion show she is hosting will take her empowering message one step further.
“Any Shangela show always has something amazing to behold, even if we aren’t aware what’s about to be beheld, so it’s definitely an experience worth watching,” Esain said. “Pretty much just look out for the fashion show. It’s going to be very interactive — have UNC students showcase their own styles and have their own fashion.”
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