Throughout the ninth season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Huffington Post Queer Voices will interview each departing queen on the Saturday following the air date of their elimination episode. Check HuffPost Queer Voices weekly to read about these queens’ reflections on their time on the show, as well as their legacies as queer artists and performers. Check out the previous interview with Jaymes Mansfield, Kimora Blac, Charlie Hides, Eureka O’Hara, Cynthia Lee Fontaine, Aja, Farrah Moan and Valentina.
We’re nearing the end here, kids ― and this week’s episode of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” brought the departure of another fan favorite: Nina Bo’nina Brown.
Nina started out strong in the competition, but struggled in the last few weeks as she found herself too into her own head. Last week she performed the season’s biggest upset when she sent home season darling Valentina, and Friday night she found herself being sent packing by Shea Couleé.
We’re down to the final five (eeek!), but before we get to the season’s last few of episodes, let’s check in with Nina. In this interview with HuffPost, the queen opens up about her portrayal on the show throughout the season and what she wants to do with her platform, and she reflects on how she feels like, after all this time, she’s still in her head.
HuffPost: Hey Nina – congrats on making it as far as you did. Looking back on “Drag Race” since you filmed last year, how do you feel about the experience as a whole? Do you feel like you achieved everything you set out to achieve on the show when you first went on?
Nina Bo’nina Brown: I don’t think I went on there with any expectations. I don’t think I went on there [thinking] “I want to win” or make it to the top, it was more that I finally made it on. I think I kind of showed the world that I’m different and that you can be different and not someone who fits a mold.
When you think about what you do in terms of your artistry, how would you conceptually describe that to someone?
I can’t. Even when we did the “Meet the Queens” video, I really couldn’t put a label on it. I can give you fish if I want to give you fish, I can give you different things. I would just say — artist.
How do you feel about your portrayal on the show? Particularly in these last couple of episodes, I felt like you were portrayed as someone who needed constant reassurance and was maybe paranoid about what people said about you. Was that the headspace you were in?
I agree with that to an extent and then not all the way. Here’s the thing, you can’t blame everything on editing because you do and say the things you do and say. But I do feel like I had more moments where I was chipper or smiley, but those weren’t there. Or moments where I’m probably just doing my makeup, minding my business ― where it didn’t look a certain way, you know? If anything I will say they were kind of nice as far as the way I look a little bit – it could be worse. So yeah, it’s kind of a mixture of a 50/50.
How do you feel like you’ve grown and changed since your time on “Drag Race?”
I don’t think I’ve grown! [Laughs] I mean, I’m still the person who is too in their head unfortunately. I never really even like grasped the whole thing as it was happening to me. It still feels like it kind of didn’t happen. So I’m still trying to accept people’s love and their words and really take it to heart and believe it. I’m still growing in that aspect.
As I’m sure you’ve gathered by this point, so much of the show’s fanbase now is young teen and preteen girls. Why do you think “Drag Race” resonates so profoundly with this demographic?
I don’t know. Maybe because they like make-up and dresses and they can probably learn some things. But then – I don’t know. Some of these young kids are very, very rude. “Drag Race” has some of the most vile, vicious fans, which is very unfortunate. I don’t know why it attracts so many young kids, that’s a good question.
With “Drag Race” being on VH1 this season, do you see any important political implications of the show being on such a mainstream network at this specific moment in time?
If anything, it gives all kinds of people [the chance to see the show], even the most closed-minded people that probably didn’t like gay people or drag, but they’re equally watching and expanding their brains a little bit. So in that way I think it’s a good thing.
What do you want to do with the platform that “Drag Race” has given you?
I don’t know. I genuinely don’t know. I’m kind of just going with the flow. I’m getting the work in, but I’m just trying to let doors open as they come .
Out of everyone left in the competition who are you rooting for?
I’m not really rooting for anybody. I know that sounds like petty [laughs]. I’m not like rooting for anybody but I do think that Trinity probably should win because she’s proven that she’s more than just a one hit wonder. A lot of people thought she would be the first one to go!
What do you want people to understand about who Nina is as an artist going forward?
I don’t know what I am as an artist. I’m just an artist — I’m trying to find my way. Just because you’re a certain age doesn’t mean you automatically have it all together in life. I’m trying to find my way and trying to find out what areas of art I can venture into. Because even though it comes off like I’m a horrible actor or actress on the show, I would love to be on TV doing something. Not just behind the scenes but also on the scenes. So I’m an artist who is still trying to do different visions of things.
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” airs on Friday nights at 8 PM ET/PT on VH1. Check out “Untucked” below. Missed last week’s interview with Valentina? Head here.