Jasmine Kennedie is what many would call, the total package. The stop in your tracks stunner can scorch the stage with her dancing abilities, can display a razor sharp lip sync (as clearly demonstrated on this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race) and knows what it takes to put together a complete and total look. While she might have departed Drag Race this season after a now-legendary episode, Kennedie has plenty of tricks up her studded sleeve in the future. This East Coast doll (and daughter off former Miss Paradise Mancie Mandell) chatted with me about her roller-coaster Drag Race ride, how she feels about representing several areas she may call “home”, and her trans journey, which culminated in one of Drag Race‘s most heartwarming and honest moments in recent memory.
Michael Cook: Your elimination came during a landmark “LaLaPaRuZa” episode. What did that feel like to be part of such a monumental experience?
Jasmine Kennedie: It was insane. Lip syncing back to back to back is a little chink in my armor, but at the same time it was a very crazy experience. We have never had to deal with something like that in a regular season, and we also had the power a little bit. It was like a clash of All-Stars elimination style vs. a regular season, the two of them.
MC: You are a larger than life performer, but fans got to see you behind the scenes as well. You definitely didn’t have any problem expressing your opinions to your fellow competitors did you? Did you walk into Drag Race simply saying you were going to be upfront and honest at all time?
JK: (laughs) It’s the Mandell in me! My goal in going to Drag Race was to showcase myself. That was my only goal. When I was having a conversation with someone, I was not worried about what someone would think, on the other side of the camera. I think that was to my benefit because it showed people all facets of me and it didn’t just show people what I wanted people to see of me. I showed them the raw, the good, the ugly, and the bad and I think it showed more about me.
MC: You were extremely honest about your relationship with your family and were one of the contestants that came out as trans during the season, for you during “Untucked”. Did you plan to discuss this on-camera before you left for Drag Race or was the conversation totally spontaneous?
JK: I told my boyfriend a couple months before leaving for the show that I was trans non-binary, which is like the step right before you come out. I told him I was never going to talk about it bring it up. Going into Drag Race, I wasn’t going to come out until my father had passed. That may sound horrible, but I am the last “son” and I always held that with such high power in my life. Being around Kerri (Colby) and the girls and being in a comfortable environment where I felt that I could talk freely kind of just opened the flood gates to where it all just came out. It was a melting pot of a lot of things; my conversation with Kerri off-camera a couple days prior to that, Bosco talking about her own gender identity, to TS Madison coming in. There as just such an openness and a comfort in the room that I felt that it was an okay time to talk about it.
MC: Your season has been revolutionary season, with the most contestants coming out as trans ever on a season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Did you have conversations off camera that you think contributed to the willingness to share so much?
JK: I think Bosco and Willow described it best. During the quarantine we really did have that break from our art and we didn’t have that euphoria that we necessarily had when being in drag all the time. When you’re in a pressure cooker situation where you are in it and living in it 24/7, everything narrows down in your mind and you really realize what matters and what doesn’t. I think all of us had similar life stories when we had a break from drag, came back from it, and it really put into perspective what we really do and don’t want in life.
MC: On UK vs. The World, it was very important for the girls to each represent their country the best that they possibly could. That said, you represented New York and New Jersey during your own Drag Race season. New York queens have done historically well in the competition. This year as the only New York queen, did you feel a responsibility to live up to the kind of success other New York queens have had?
JK: I definitely put a responsibility on myself, but my responsibility wasn’t necessarily to be on the same level as those New York City girls. Maybe not pave a new avenue for those New York City girls, not to say this is New York City drag, but to show that maybe there are facets of New York City drag that haven’t been showcased. I think I got to do that, even though I am a New York City girl, my my drag is very Jersey, my mic skills are very New York, and how I handle situations is very upstate New York, so it is am amalgomation of all of those things. I feel like I represented where I am from and where I’ve performed very well.
MC: The fandom of Drag Race is always very engaged. You killed numerous lip syncs, you had strong opinions, a forthright personality. and you came out as trans on the show. The fans probably reacted to you in a myriad of ways, is that fair to say?
JK: I will say that it all came in different spurts in different times. In the beginning, it was like people thought I talked a lot and people thought I talked a lot. Then the show happened and people saw I could dance and they thought I “sucked the life out of the room”. My coming out though, was the pivotal moment for the fanbase and has totally flipped the script. They’re now saying things like “I love you, you’re so inspirational, you’re so great”. It’s great that they are finally doing it, but it made me feel like “is it just because I’m trans that you are a fan of mine’? But as time has gone on, that fans have very much been supportive of me, been loving, caring and also understand me as a person and see that. They see that who I am on television is who I am outside the show.
MC: Now that you have this global platform, what do you think you want to do now?
JK: Of course, I want to tour, but I would love to branch into modeling. Outside of Drag Race, I mean I love Jasmine, but Kyle needs some love too. I would love to do a small activewear clothing line. I am still a very active tomgirl, a girl on the go and I love sweats and things. I would love to do an active wear line that is specifically gender neutral. A lot of drag queens going to work and want something cute to go to the club and are never sure what to wear; drag or boy clothes? Why not have something in between for everyone? It’s a niche market, but I think it’s one that people will gravitate towards.
MC: What does you drag reveal about who Jasmine Kennedie is as a person?
JK: I think that my drag reveals that I am a very bubbly, charismatics and carefree type of person who has a lot of energy! I think it shows my intention behind my drag; people can tell that with everything I do with my people can tell that care about my drag. With every detail, regardless as to whether it is a Tuesday show or a large stage, drag is my passion and I think that is what I have shown on the show. I also think that my drag showcases my creativity and my thought process. I think people enjoy seeing an individual’s thoughts as opposed to just something they copy and pasted on the Internet.
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