Drag Race icon Latrice Royale says getting naked on camera sparked ‘life-changing’ journey
Drag Race icon Latrice Royale on her “life-changing” journey of fitness and body confidence, and getting her “Cinderella ending” on the West End stage.
She might have been named in the top 10 of the most powerful drag queens in America by New York Magazine, but Latrice Royale has never let success change her.
She’s in London for her second West End run, playing one of two leads in drag murder mystery Death Drop (opposite Kitty Scott-Claus), after her first run was sharply interrupted by her catching COVID.
Becoming a West End actress is just one of Latrice’s recent life changes – she’s also embarked upon a fitness journey and body confidence that, as she tells PinkNews, is helping Tim, the man behind Latrice, to finally love himself as he is.
As she prepares for her “full-circle moment” on the West End, and armed with her signature sass and TEDTalk worthy life advice, Latrice also opened up about the joy of being on stage, and who she is rooting for ahead of the Drag Race season 14 finale.
PinkNews: Welcome back to the UK! We are so happy you get to finish Death Drop in style – your ending last time was quite brutal wasn’t it?
Latrice Royale: I got COVID the last two weeks of the run, so not only was I not able to finish, but I also did not know it was my last show. Then the play went on tour and I was not mentally and emotionally ready to go back. When the play came back to London [for its third run] I was so glad they had Jujubee as Summer. Turns out she had prior engagements for these last two weeks which worked out beautifully for me. It’s a full-circle moment, I get my Cinderella ending surrounded by these amazing artists.
You character, Summer Raines, has been played by Monét X Change, Ra’Jah O’Hara and Jujubee. What makes your takedifferent?
Me. It’s 100 per cent me. It’s really fun to see the differences in our interpretation of the character. Latrice has this gravitas to her that is just undeniable and so I bring all of that with me on the stage.
How different is being on stage in a theatre to working in a club performing or hosting?
I feel at home in a theatre. I feel like that’s where a queen deserves to be. I need a stage worthy of my size, and a room worthy of my stature. Also, in a theatre, you have everyone’s undivided attention. They are there specifically for a reason: to see and enjoy the show. You’re not competing with strippers and dancers and bartenders and all that kind of good stuff. No distraction, everyone is in it. I love the theatre for that reason alone.
You recently stripped down with your husband Christopher for for a candid YouTube video. He mentioned that he is always trying to tell you how sexy Timothy [Latrice’s real name, out of drag] is. How is that journey going?
Doing that interview was life-changing for me because that’s the most vulnerable I’ve ever been. I’ve never been on camera in just my underwear. Even on Drag Race, I would never let them catch me in that stage of undress.
I have a lot of confidence as Latrice. Bitch, she doesn’t need any help in the confidence department. But Tim struggles a bit because I have had a lot of people telling me that I don’t fit when it comes to my size, my shape, my colour, my teeth. When you’re dealing with all the negativity that people have to say about your appearance, you have to realise that’s their problem.
If I’m really gonna be this person who talks about body positivity and being large and in charge and owning everything, I can’t really be the one standing over here cringing at the camera and refusing to take off my shirt. No. Here it is, I got a man who loves all of it, so I don’t really care about what the rest of you all think. And Christopher does do his part in making me feel sexy and fierce.
You have been posting on Instagram about working out and your fitness journey, how is that going for you?
I have an amazing coach and I’d never thought you would hear me say: I love the gym. I did not know I could get my mental game so together in the gym working out my frustrations. I’m pushing myself beyond what I thought my limits were. I see myself getting stronger and my endurance getting better and my shape is changing. The scale and I had a falling out so we’re not on speaking terms [laughs]. But I find that it is much more helpful and progressive to see the physical benefits that are happening and the change that is happening.
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I have to ask, what are your thoughts on Drag Race season 14? Who are you rooting for?
Season 14 is the longest-running season of all time! My god, I was so ready for some girls to go home! Finally, we’re getting down to the end.
Willow Pill has always been at the top of my leader board. When we talk about people overcoming obstacles and not letting any physical beings get in the way of their journey, that’s her. This person is excelling, and I mean at a high level of excellence, despite everything she has going on with her. You can’t deny that’s not inspiring. In the beginning, I was a true Kornbread stan, I had high hopes for her until she got injured.
We’ve seen a few injuries on the show now — even in the UK version. Do you think we’re asking these girls for too much?
I have a saying: “It only hurts when you do it wrong.” I’ve had slips and falls but I’ve never injured myself because I know how to fall. The biggest mistake a lot of these girls are making is they are trying to catch themselves. But you can’t.
These girls are really pushing the stunts to the extreme: they’re setting themselves on fire, they’re jumping off platforms and I’m just like, “girl, I’ve never had to do all of that”. I don’t think it is necessary. Drag is an art and you can be a lot of different things and create a lot of excitement without setting yourself on fire. It is not a split and stunts competition. It’s gonna be great for your bookings if you’re gonna be splitting in the club and whatever but beyond that what do you have going?
Latrice Royale is in Death Drop at the Criterion Theatre, London until Sunday 24 April.