fAtlanta, GA consistently delivers spectacular drag performers to RuPaul’s Drag Race, and LaLa Ri is the latest Georgia peach to hit the main stage during Season 13. After delivering a runway look that will definitely be…remembered, LaLa Ri is known as one of the most scorching lip syncers we have seen so far this season, despite her elimination last week. I caught up with LaLa to chat about her brand new single, her openness about racism and the Drag Race fandom.
Michael Cook: So your run on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 13 has ended; what does it look like looking at it in the rearview mirror?
LaLa Ri: I wouldn’t say it’s totally in the rearview mirror, the experience is really starting now (laughs)! The Drag Race experience was amazing and I would not trade it for anything in the world. I had a great time with the cast, with Ru, the crew, and everything was simply amazing.
MC: The twist this season involving lip syncs shortly after arriving looked definitely “gag-worthy”! What was it like to experience it from your perspective?
LR: Oh yes, that lip sync twist the first day in your entrance outfit?! I was like “You are pulling stunts already, Miss Ru!” I was nervous, I was super nervous. I didnt know what was going to happen, I had never seen Denali perform, so I didnt know what she was going to give, and she had on ice skates! I was like…”Oh My Lord, this girl is about to skate all around me”; but thank God I made it through!
MC: When you started to make your way to the main stage did it even cross your mind that Ru and the entire judges panel might be sitting there waiting for you?
LR: Honestly, I didnt have any thoughts in my head I didnt know what to expect. When I walked onto that stage and I saw them all sitting there, I think my heart dropped into my big toe. Especially RuPaul in drag on the first day?!
MC: Atlanta is one of the cities that consistently puts forth some of the best drag performers in the world. Tamisha Iman was in the competition with you this summer and was also the first person to ever put you into drag. What was it like now being in a competition with someone who in Atlanta, is so revered?
LR: That was a privilege; to be around Tamisha at any time is a privilege really. Tamisha is one of the women that paved the way for girls like every single girl on Drag Race to be able to do what they do. She was the first person to ever to put me in drag, which was an honor. To have her there, it was a reconnection and a reunion for us. We had not spoken for years previous to being on Drag Race, so it was a real reunion. To be around Tamisha Iman is to be around greatness.
MC: The conversation that you had about racial inequality and being black in America was an important conversation to be seen. It also was a conversation that you had a very personal connection to. What does it feel like for you being that open on camera about the topic and what kind of reaction have you gotten from others?
LR: It was super hard for me to watch. And I can still feel the same feelings that I felt that day. Nothing has changed about the way that I feel. Even when I watch it played back, I kind of get choked up and try to hold back tears. I know my boyfriend he really was crying when it aired. I am glad that Drag Race let me have that moment to showcase the things that I go through as a black man on a day to day basis.
MC: The argument with Tamisha Iman and Kandy Muse, while great television, got a very strong reaction from the fans some of which were extremely vicious online. From your perspective why do you think the fandom can sometimes focus extremely harshly on some queens more than others?
LR: A previous Drag Race queen said this a while back; “the majority of the fandom is younger white people. When they look at us, they don’t see themselves. They can’t see themselves being a black queen. They can’t relate to us, they relate more to my white sisters.” While that is understandable, by the same token-don’t put us down because you don’t see yourself as us.
MC: What can we expect next from LaLa Ri?
LR: I am definitely going to be posting my looks on Instagram! I am going to be posting content, and I have my new song called “Bad Bitch Tip” ft. Ocean Kelly on all streaming services also; so she’s still out here honey! Music is something that I have always wanted to do. My mother is a singer, my grandmother is a singer, my great grandmother was a drummer, I come from a musical family, so it has always been inside of me. I just now have the platform to be able to do it.
MC: So in keeping with your family lineage, if you ever decide to do All-Stars maybe a full majorette look with a drum would be a killer entrance look?
LR: (Laughs) I will!
MC: How have you stayed motivated and inspired during this truly surreal time in our world?
LR: It was hard, I am not going to lie; it was hard to stay inspired. I love performing in front of the audience, I love that live experience. Thankfully, I live in Atlanta, and I was able to still work at Lips Atlanta. We did it very safely, we had to wear shields and masks, and we couldn’t touch the money, it had to be put into buckets. Thankfully I was still able to perform, but of course it was not the same due to the safety protocols. I did not feel truly connected as I did pre-COVID.
Follow LaLa Ri on Instagram
‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ airs Friday nights on VH1 (check local listings)