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EXCLUSIVE: Shangela Talks Lessons Learned from AS3, A Star Is Born and Her Booming Career

Shangela has had one hell of a year in 2018… arguably bigger than any other RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant or drag queen themselves.

It’s hard to figure out where to begin in terms of her successes over the past 11 months. Conquering All Stars 3 (and almost winning), voicing an upcoming animated series on Netflix, going on tour around the world in over 100 cities. Is that it? Oh wait… and starring in the blockbuster film A Star is Born alongside Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga.

The Texas native is proof that hard work pays off and how you yourself are responsible for getting in the door and making things work. She’s one of many stars from the show to capitalize from their appearance on the Emmy winning program and has taken it to a level that many would kill for.  When all is said and done she still remains humble, kind and aware of where she came from and who she is today.

To me, and to many others, Shangela is a gay icon and its thrilling to pick up our series dedicated to these figures for the first time in months after showcasing others we have chosen including Kathy Griffin and Belinda Carlisle.

I chatted with Shangela earlier this week about her phenomenal year, thoughts on losing All Stars 3 and so much more that is going on in her hectic life. Take a look.

Your 2018, at least from a fan’s point of view like mine, has been extraordinary. Has there been one moment that has stuck out to you more than the rest?

Well I will tell you that would have to be in London for the Star is Born premiere there. I’ve always dreamed of being an actor and now to be in a film with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper… and you know my mom got to join me at the premiere. That was her first time seeing me on the big screen in a film like this, so it was unforgettable.

This may be far-fetched, but have you thrown yourself into any categories for the upcoming award ceremonies?

(Laughter). Well, no, I haven’t thrown myself into them but I’m Shangela! You’ll never know where I’ll pop up.

What was your reaction to people being so angry about you not winning All Stars 3?

I’m just thankful that we have so many great fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race who are so passionate about the show and all that. I was disappointed to not be able to lip sync in the final two, but the thing I learned in that moment is that life is going to sometimes throw some curveballs at you… but you never give up. I think that’s always been my journey. I’ve been to Drag Race many times, honey, ain’t never once been crowned but I always say said you don’t have to have a crown to be a queen. You have to continue to think positively and move yourself forward, and that’s what I’m doing.

You have so much coming up! I wanted to ask you about the RuPaul’s Drag Race Holi-Slay Spectacular airing December 7th on VH1. Can you tell us a little more about it?

Well, I can only say that it will be a holiday spectacular like no other for the Drag Race fandom. I am a Christmas queen, y’all know that already, so I am coming to holi-slay!

A lot of the guys from The Pit Crew are popular with Instinct Magazine. Are you close with any of them in really life?

I keep in touch with several, but Jason Carter is the one that I’m closest to. He was actually in my “Working Girl” music video way back in 2012, so we’ve been friends for a while.

Tell us more about the Netflix animated show Super Drags that you are part of.

It’s so awesome to be part of an animated series that is hilarious but also embracing drag and putting us out there as some great heroes.

You were also at the Vogue CFDA Fall Fashion Fund event in NYC on Monday. How was that?

Oh my god, pinch me honey, I’m still dreaming from it. Come on… Anna Wintour was sitting in the audience where I EMERGED dressed in Christian Cowan. And then I got to perform for her, which was fantastic.

You’ve hung around some big A-list stars outside of Gaga and Bradley Cooper. Who has been the biggest surprise celeb Drag Race fan that you’ve met so far?

I would have to say Sarah Jessica Parker. I will never forget, I got a small booking once on Glee. SJP was also on the same episode. I remember in the rehearsal I turned to her and I was like “I just want to say, Ms. Parker, I’m a huge fan of yours and I love you so much,” and she looked to me and said, “Oh I know who you are Shangela!” And I was like “WHAT!?!?” That was phenomenal.

What’s your biggest goal for 2019? Do you want to continue with this booming acting thing you have going on?

Well truly I do. I will say that right now I am very thankful to be on a 181-city tour around the world. This is the largest, single person tour of any Drag Race contestant. Next year I’m hoping to put more of a focus on working as an actor. I’ve done a lot of solid roles but now with A Star is Born I’m hoping I can continue working with some great people. There are so many great stories out that need to be told and I want to be part of that storytelling.

Last question: what’s it like being a gay icon?

That’s awesome that you would say that. I don’t consider myself an icon. I consider myself, like my song, a working girl. I’m out here pounding the pavement.  What I consider an icon is someone who inspires others to do the best with their life. And that’s what I’m out here doing so I hope other people can draw inspiration for that.

For more information on Shangela, please check out her official website.