Behind The Scenes Of The New Hit Drag Competition

International recording artist and actress Vanessa Williams spills the tea as one of the celebrity judges on 'Queen of the Universe'
Vanessa Williams (image via Paramount+)

International pop star Vanessa Williams not only knows what it takes to win a talent competition, but a RuPaul’s drag contest as well. And she’s not afraid to share.

The Grammy/Tony/Emmy-nominated artist is serving as one of the judges for the new drag-tastic reality series “Queen of the Universe” produced by World of Wonder. Drag superstar Trixie Mattel, UK pop star Leona Lewis, and RuPaul’s Drag Race guru Michelle Visage join Williams in handling judging duties.


The show pits drag queens from around the world throwing down impressive vocals as they sing live competing for the title and the $250,000 prize money.

No stranger to drag, Williams has appeared as a guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race. And, in 2020, she competed as “Vanqueisha De House” on RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race.  The former Miss America not only won her episode, but Williams donated her $30,000 prize to The Trevor Project. 



Impressive vocals, choreography, glamorous production values, glitter bombs galore and more are all a part of the “Queen of the Universe” proceedings.

I recently chatted with the super-star about what she really thinks of the singers, her role as a judge, and more. Hit the play button below to listen.


Some excerpts from our chat:

Williams’s thoughts on being a judge in a talent competition:

Judging is so one dimensional. I think we’re there to instruct, help, guide, and suggest – as opposed to rip and tear down somebody. I want to see them be their best, have fun, show up on time and be a professional.”

Was Williams, a multi-platinum-selling recording artist, surprised by the queens vocal prowess during the competition?


“We were – particularly Ada Vox. Also, we don’t see any of the (background) packages that you see. We know where they’re from – but we don’t know their stories unless they tell us on the runway. But they keep getting better and better each week.”

Did she want to be perceived as a certain kind of judge?

“I don’t want to be ‘who’s going to be the villain? The hard judge?’ Obviously having played Wilhelmina Slater on “Ugly Betty,” everyone’s going to assume I’m going to be the one with the snarky comments…but I’m looking for, and commenting on, what I see on stage.”


And – surprise! – even the judges are waiting to find out who will win the crown of “Queen of the Universe.”

“We do not know who won,” says Williams. She shares that the audience will vote on a winner and the judges won’t know the result of that vote until the finale.

You can catch up on the first four episodes of “Queen of the Universe” now, and don’t miss the grand finale streaming on Paramount+ on December 30, 2021.

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