As we’ve all learned by now, living through the coronavirus pandemic makes you lose your sense of time. At home, each day feels like a facsimile of the last, and the only way to feel at all oriented toward the future is to cling to those tiny moments of anticipation.
Something to look forward to, then: the cast of “Canada’s Drag Race” has officially been announced — and it looks promising.
Since last year, when it was confirmed that Canada would get its own iteration of the Emmy award-winning “RuPaul’s Drag Race” franchise, fans have been in a frenzy trying to determine who might be competing on the show.
And when it was then revealed that Canada’s very own Brooke Lynn Hytes would be the host — alongside “Unreal” actor Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman and international fashion muse/model Stacey McKenzie — things got even more exciting, if that were even possible.
Watch: HuffPost Canada’s 2018 interview with Tynomi Banks, one of the contestants on ”Canada’s Drag Race.” Story continues below.
Now we have a little bit more information about how the show will work. “We’re all RuPaul, put together,” Hytes told Entertainment Weekly in a recent interview, of the new host arrangement.
Usually, RuPaul hosts the show herself, and has the despotic power to make decisions. Not so this time. “Not one of us has all the power. It’s a team effort. We all take turns sharing duties, and we all make decisions together!”
That very same Entertainment Weekly interview gave some insight into how similar the show’s challenges would be to the classical American ones. The regular challenges, like Snatch Game, will remain, as well as the usual singing, dancing, acting and sewing ones, too.
“I think that the essence of the challenges is similar to ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race,’ but they’re specific to Canada,” Bowyer-Chapman said. “There are instantly recognizable Easter eggs for Canadians, but they’re universally comedic enough that other audiences won’t be left out of the joke. Seeing these queens perform, this isn’t Drag Race-lite, this is Drag Race full-stop!”
So, without further ado, here’s a quick look at the inaugural cast of queens who will compete for a cash prize of $100,000, as well as the title of Canada’s first “Drag Race” superstar.
“Canada’s Drag Race” will premiere on Thursday, July 2 on Crave in Canada.
What to know: She’s a pageant queen inspired by her Caribbean roots who holds more than 15 titles already, including Miss Canada International, Miss Gay Toronto and Miss Black Continental at Large.
Her official statement: “Being on ‘Drag Race’ is the culmination of an amazing 17-year career. It allows me to represent all the little black boys and girls in third world countries like the Bahamas that have huge dreams but no resources to make them a reality.”
What to know: “BOA” is her true last name, but doubles as an acronym for “Bitch On Arrival.” She’s not known for being a comedy queen, but she is known to make audiences laugh with her athletics, sharp wit, and her goofy mannerisms.
Her official statement: “I love drag because it gives me the opportunity to be my authentic, goofy self and bring my audience happiness. When an audience is happy, so am I! I like my drag to allow people to let loose, have fun, laugh and forget about all the negativity in the world.”
What to know: She’s a two-spirit Indigenous artist whose upbringing in Nlaka’pamux instilled in her a profound desire for representation. She loves a head-to-toe monochromatic look, and hopes that, on the show, she’ll become the representation she always wished she could find in mainstream media.
Her official statement: “Drag is important to me as it is how I visually express how I see myself on the inside, and how I manifest my female energy as a two-spirit person!”
What to know: Not only is she a cabaret performer who loves to sing, but she also spent time working as a clown, and enjoys incorporating it into her drag. Namely, though, she wants to make people laugh.
Her official statement: “Drag is the perfect gateway for self-discovery and self-expression. It’s the beautiful culmination of courage, joy, performance, and artistry that inspires and entertains. Drag is a personal and political statement that challenges the social constructs to help inspire change in the world.”
What to know: She doesn’t shy away from sex appeal, and isn’t afraid to get intricate with makeup — in fact, she holds both a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Windsor as well as a Diploma of Makeup Artistry and Special FX from CMU.
Her official statement: “I’m so excited to be on the first season of Canada’s Drag Race and I can’t wait to show the world how incredible Canadian drag really is.”
What to know: She’s serious about this — she just quit her job and hit the pause button on school so she could pivot to pouring all her energy into her drag. As one of the few queens of colour in Québec’s whole drag circuit, she’s sure to bring something exciting to the table.
Her official statement: “Being on Canada’s Drag Race is a dream come true. I’m beyond excited to be on my favorite TV show and I can’t wait to make queer Canadian her-story!”
From: Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont.
What to know: She’s not just a self-described “drag queen and star on the rise”: she’s also a YouTube personality with more than 100,000 subscribers who watch her videos about makeup, costume, hair and art. She’s a capital “P” performer, and loves musicians like Whitney Houston and, of course, Céline Dion.
Her official statement: “Drag is my vehicle for all my joy, ambition and creative energy. It makes me feel alive.”
What to know: She’s from Toronto, but she now lives in New York City, where she was selected by “Drag Race” winner Sasha Velour to model in an Opening Ceremony runway show at fashion week. She wants to bring the spirit and electricity she picked up in New York back to Canada.
Her official statement: “I am so excited to be on Canada’s Drag Race so I can show the world I’m not only that bitch, I’m that *Canadian* bitch.”
What to know: Long before she was voted “Favourite Toronto Drag Queen” and modelled for the cover of a 2019 issue of NOW Magazine, Priyanka was a kids’ TV host.
Her official statement: “I love drag so much. I had a drag queen perform at my 26th birthday party and they suggested I do drag. Now three titles, two music videos, and one big opportunity to be on “Canada’s Drag Race.” I could be Canada’s First Ever Drag Superstar … what’s my name?!”
What to know: She’s well-known as a keeper of Montreal’s LGBTQ+ community, and has been a major force behind the bid the city made to host World Pride 2023. She’s also no stranger to the camera: she’s been a part of a number of TV shows in Quebec, including her own reality show. (She’s also known for her impersonations of the singer Adele, so don’t be surprised if that’s who she picks for Snatch Game.)
Her official statement: “I’m beyond excited to be part of this journey! I want to make my province proud and to be the very first francophone to own a Drag Superstar title. Dreams DO come true!”
What to know: If you know what the Empire’s Ball is — “Canada’s most inclusive drag competition,” on which she is known to talk about community needs — then you know Scarlett BoBo, who is its creator and producer. Oh, and she went to circus school, so she knows how to do things like, for example, light herself on fire (safely, of course).
Her official statement: “I love, love, LOVE doing drag because it allows me to live my truth every day and there are no rules to what I am allowed to do, say, or accomplish. “Canada’s Drag Race” lets me express every side of myself and show others how to be fearless and authentic. I want to prove that you can stay true to who you are, no matter what.”
What to know: If you live in Toronto and have any foot in the drag world, you know who Tynomi Banks is. (HuffPost Canada did an interview with her, in which she offers some valuable advice.) She’s the city’s reigning Dancing Queen, and is the heart of Toronto’s drag scene. She’s been around for ages, and the first time her mother saw her in drag was when she performed at World Pride back in 2014.
Her official statement: “Tynomi Banks is fun, flirty, and fashionable. She will entertain you, all the while stealing your man in plain sight and you won’t even realize it’s happening.”
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