Lady Camden was the quintessential black horse of the Season 14 RuPaul’s Drag Race competition. A quiet confidence, coupled with raw talent and the ability to take risks on and off the runway, Lady Camden quickly rose to the top of the competition, and her showdown with eventual Season 14 Willow Pill during the final lip-sync battle remains one for the ages. I sat down to chat with Camden post-finale and we discussed everything from her dedication to crafts like ballet and acting, merging them with drag, and why keeping a little bit of that juvenile idealism never hurt anyone.
Michael Cook: You were one of the final two on this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and made it to the stunning final lip sync. While you didn’t grab the crown, you certainly made a crown part of your final reveal. What was it like to make it this far in such a tough competition?
Lady Camden: I don’t know other way to explain it, other than exhausting. I am sure other queens feel the same way, whether you go home first or win it, it is just exhausting. Exhausting in a great way though. In our season, there were so many challenges that tested our abilities and to come up with things on the spot, like improv. I felt that it was very testing, but looking back on it, I am just really proud that I got through it. I am happy that I got to show who I am; it is easy to get lost in trying to do well, and I definitely felt that way in the beginning. Everyone is just focused on trying to do well, stay or just be safe. I am lucky that I got to show a little bit of who I am, in addition to that.
MC: There were moments that you started to move to the front of the competition and we definitely saw a pivot as viewers where you were truly a front runner. Where do you feel that shift happened?
LC: I think I just needed to have a moment where I was forced to trust myself, if that makes sense. I had been doing okay up to a point, and I think when I was looking at a possible win and didn’t get it, I remember thinking “the judges are less interested in people doing well and more interested in seeing who you are”. It was less about being an A+ student and more about having fun with stuff. I think I was so hungry for a win that I remember thinking a little bit of a “fuck it” mentality in the best way. Less focused on being perfect and more focused on just doing the damn thing. I think that is what helped me kind of-pun intended-“break free”.
MC: RuPaul’s Drag Race throws so much at the competitors, but it also forces you to try things and stretch muscles that you may not have even known you had. What do you think is the favorite Drag Race experience that you really enjoyed the most?
LC: It’s hard because out of the three times I won, I really enjoyed all three for different reasons. The last episode that we filmed on-set was fun because I got to pretend I was a pop star, dance and be obvious. I also just loved the nod to George Michael’s “Too Funky” it was so nineties and so fun. Every drag queen wants to feel like a supermodel, so I thought that was such a treat for us. It was like “hey you made it this far, you get to do this really fun thing now”. The first time I won was fun for a different reason, because I remember in the moment, I was feeling like I was taking a bit of a risk, trying to be like the scene was “really happening”. Thinking of the history between me and Angie-or me and Maxine-it was fun to take a little bit of a risk.
I don’t think we do super real acting with drag, we try to make it fun, slapstick and silly, but I decided to try to add a little bit of realness to it. My heart was racing, like “Oh God”! I don’t know if you noticed, but when I finished and RuPaul was giving me good feedback, I wasn’t sure how it was going to go because she didn’t say anything the whole time. I wasn’t sure if I was bombing or if I was doing great. That was really cool; it was taking a risk and seeing it pay off. It’s the risk thing also. If you’re not someone that takes risks often, which I am not, that is what I learned also. Not to worry as much and just go for it.
MC: As the first English queen to appear on the American version of RuPaul’s Drag Race, was there an extra bit of intimidation for you or a feeling of responsibility maybe?
LC: It was kind of a surprise honestly, I thought that if I was ever going to be on Drag Race it would be on the UK version. My mum is American, so I have dual citizenship. I wanted to be on the American one more, it is bigger in terms of viewings and accolades, and stuff like that. More than anything, my experience as a drag queen has been in America and not in the UK. I started doing drag in America. I almost felt like If I were to go into the UK version, I would be possibly at a disadvantage because maybe their scenes are different there. I don’t think that it is so different that I would have felt completely lost, but I would feel more comfortable going into a drag competition that is rooted in American drag.
MC: So many people go into Drag Race, and their drag is elevated so much from what it was when they first started, For you, when did your drag pivot from a hobby or something you enjoyed to something you wanted to make a career out of?
LC: I was one of those kids that tried a lot of things out. I loved doing this and that, but didn’t want to give one of them up. I felt like I had to though, I was getting these messages…I felt like if I was doing drag, I was cheating on ballet. If I was focusing on ballet, then I was cheating on acting, because I was going to acting school, and I actually still do. Especially with acting, acting is something that you need to dedicate all of your time to if you are expecting to ever get a job. I think ballet is the same too, you can’t have your hand in different things and expect to do well at those things. I felt that I had to give something up. When drag came along, I though that maybe this was the case where I could actually “marry” stuff, I could marry ballet, acting, and drag together. I think Drag Race was something that made me feel like I can. I think at this point, drag doesn’t set any rules you can literally do whatever the fuck you want.
MC: What is next for Lady Camden?
LC: I am definitely excited to travel and tour the world and perform and meet lots of people. I want to travel and experience all of those things that come along with being in front of big audiences. I’ve already had one show with the tour and it was so much fun! There were literally thousands of people and I have never performed for that many people in my life. I am excited to just do that for a while and have a little bit of a routine after this crazy ass year. I don’t know, I want to see how it goes. My dream would be to do a one-woman show one day. I am a theater baby and I just love performing so much. It would be really cool to do that and all over the world; that is really my dream.
MC: Drag most definitely reveals who you are, as opposed to hiding you. What do you think your drag reveals about you?
LC: I think for me personally, it reveals a confidence that I don’t think a lot of people knew I had. I think what you’ve been through also, Ive been through so many weird life shifts and changes, it kind of tells your story in a weird way. I am a very nostalgic person, so I like to reference nostalgic stuff from when I was a kid. I think it reveals my childishness and being stupid and vulnerable. Like a juvenile you know? I think I believe in staying juvenile as an adult, I think it is important to stay hopeful. It is easy to get pessimistic in general. I think some of my family members were pessimistic and I was always avoiding that. I think coming to the states and pursuing drag, even though it is a ridiculous thing to pursue when you don’t have a lot money, it is the another reason that I think it’s important to stay hopeful. Because I think it turned out pretty well (laughs)!
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