Loretta Devine Talks Dreamgirls And Her ‘Celebrity Drag Race’ Journey

RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race has launched an instantly compelling second season and everything from the audience to the contestants to the queens involved is larger than life. The first eliminated competitor was the instantly beloved Fabulosity who was revealed to be stage, television and film superstar Loretta Devine. I sat down with Ms. Devine to chat about her epic turn on the Drag Race stage, the path to becoming Fabulosity, and how being one of the original Dreamgirls on Broadway prepared her for her latest star making turn.

Michael Cook: Getting to watch you recreate yourself as Fabulosity on the second season of RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race was such a treat for the viewers. What was it like for you to take part in the show?

Loretta Devine: It was a lot of fun and part of the fun was the secrecy, I think. I had never done anything like it where you had to cloak yourself when you go to the studio, sneak in, and you can’t talk about it. This is the beginning of even discussing it! I had a good time and it was exciting. When it happened, we were so hungry to see people again; this was around November of 2021 to see people again. We had the costumes, and the choreographer, somebody to help you with the song…it was great, I loved it!

MC: The LGBTQ community has enveloped you for decades, but I don’t think you have worked with drag artists this up close and personal up until now. What was that aspect like?

LD: It was a new experience, the whole thing of how you could pad stuff, and they really do magic! I didn’t recognize myself as Loretta once they got to work on Fabulosity’s face, and the lashes and the extensions! It was Monét X Change who boosted by confidence, who said “ok, pull up here we’re gonna go and it’s gonna be fabulous”! It was just wonderful, it was fun and it was faster than I thought, I thought I would be there a lot longer. It was fun while it lasted as they say!

Photo Courtesy-World of Wonder/VH1

MC: When you walked in and everyone saw the iconic Loretta Devine, seeing the woman that has starred in Dreamgirls from Waiting To Exhale probably elicited quite a strong reaction from everyone involved. What was that like?

LD: Well you know, what was funny is that the other contestants, we didn’t know who was who either. I saw everyone when I got kicked off (laughs) but you don’t start seeing everybody until you come back for the finale a couple months later. Then you get a chance to hang around everyone and chit chat, and you realize that some of the people you’ve worked with and that you know. Some of the people were just so incredible with the dancing and stuff, it was great. I think everybody is a star in there, no one was tripping off of each other, they were tripping off of themselves (laughs)!

Fabulosity really was like becoming a different person it was a lot of work. You had to do your photo shoot in the middle of all of this dancing, you had to learn a song for when you get kicked off, a song for when you are on, and there were the photo shoots and interviews in the middle of that. You had to go back to your dressing room which was a van ride away, then go back, it really made me feel like I was twenty years old again, running around like I’d lost my mind (laughs)!

MC: What do you think you will take from Fabulosity into your career and real life?

LD: Well, I’ve already used my body suit in another movie and I was so happy about that (laughs)! I really was devastated when I was the last of the two on the stage. If I ever have to do something that is competitive again or I am asked to do something competitive again, I don’t know if I would do it; it hurt my feelings! I felt sorry for all the people that believed in me, the boys that were dancing for me were so supportive and I was like “oh no”! I don’t know what I would take from it…don’t take everything so personally maybe?

Photo Courtesy-World of Wonder/VH1

MC: At what point in your career did you look around and notice that the LGBTQ community had such a love and reverence for you?

LD: Well if you come from the Broadway community, I think you are born in the middle of it. I have had experiences where I have gone to Fire Island with friends and you become close friends with everybody and you really have a genuine love for everyone you’re working with. Of course, I come from the South and I have parents and family members who have no understanding of it and it’s like “oh God what is that”? I think because you get a chance to live with people, and there is no way not to love them. People don’t know a lot of times what they’re missing!

Photo Courtesy-World of Wonder/VH1

MC: So many people know you from films, Broadway, and television. Now on RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race, you are going to be exposed to a whole new fan base. Do you think that being one of the original Dreamgirls prepared you for being a drag queen?

LD: Yes. Yes it did, I can say that. I think if you are living with people and living in something, you understand it better than the people that have been told what it is. When you know what something is as opposed to being told what something is, you know how to love it. And they taught you how to be a diva, you know I don’t think I’m diva enough, I’ve always gotten that (laughs)!


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