The uber successful voguing competition Legendary has returned for its second season on HBO Max – and it’s looking to crown a new house from the ballroom scene as victorious.
Returning to claim their seats as judges are Grammy winning rapper Megan Thee Stallion and the Iconic Leiomy Maldonado. But season 2 of the popular reality competition show will see ten houses and their members compete weekly to claim the number one spot and $100k in prize money.
One of the houses featured is The House of Miyake-Mugler. I got a chance to speak with one of the members of this house – transgender beauty and self proclaimed “Princess of Vogue”, Tati Miyake-Mugler. We discuss everything from her upbringing, her career and whether or not there is love in her life.
Instinct: Hi Tati, we’re going to start with the basics. When and where were you born?
Tati: I was born on December 16, 1993. Ironically I was born in the Greenwich Village St. Vincent Catholic Medical Center (Manhattan, NY). And I grew up in the Sheepshead Bay Area of Brooklyn, NY.
Brooklyn! I was born and raised in Brooklyn as well. When did you first realize you were “different?”
Ever since I could remember, I was a unique child, I think as early as 4 – 5 years old was when I realized it because I gravitated to all the more feminine things.
What was high school like for you?
For me high school was a learning experience, it gave me clarity as a young adult and just further figuring myself out. At the time I was forcing myself to be something I wasn’t and it was difficult for me to portray until I naturally came out over time. Plus my school was secretly LGBTQ+ friendly-esque.
What’s your relationship like with your mother?
For a long time it was only me and my mother until my beautiful baby sister came along. So we’ve always been close but because of my different way of living and being, at first it caused a lot of adversity in my household. This was something foreign to my mother and society as a whole. It has taken my mother a few years to come around, understand and process this new way of life for me. Since then my mother and I relationship has grown stronger. We actually are under the same roof at the moment and I’m fortunate to have her in my life because I know many others don’t have that same luxury.
What was it about the ballroom scene and voguing that attracted you?
Well, I’ve always been dancing since the age of 4 (my mom told me). So growing up I’ve always been into the performing arts. Upon graduating elementary school I applied to a middle school that had a gymnastics program and didn’t get in. Fast forward to high school. I got accepted into the vocal music program in a well known performing arts high school in Brooklyn by the name of Edward R. Murrow. There I joined the dance team and got introduced to Voguing by a friend of my and observed I could do dance influenced/acrobatic/gymnastic style things in my Vogue and from there I was immediately obsessed.
So we know you’re an official cast member of Legendary, but in the ballroom scene – are you considered a Legend?
I’ve been apart of ballroom since 2010, wow it’s been a decade now. It’s crazy to say because I remember first coming in attending HMI and The Door in the Greenwich village section of Manhattan learning how to Vogue with many of my peers. A lot of my supporters via social media always call me legend or legendary but in ballroom I’m not Legend, as of yet. And I personally don’t feel it’s my time as of yet. I have some more moments and noise to make on the ballroom floor.
How did you get cast for HBO Max Legendary?
To be honest I was contacted while I was a 007 to be on the first season of legendary to be mother of the house of 007 but that didn’t happen. I’m happy I didn’t because I totally would not have been ready to handle that type of pressure at the time. Then the second season came around and I put in a application with my house (House Of Miyake-Mugler) and was chosen as a finalist and from there it was up and stuck.
How was your experience doing the “My House” show for Vice?
My experience filming for “My House” with Vice was scary for me. This was my introduction to television and I had to make a decision of putting my personal life out there and further more being extremely transparent about my past. This lead me to being hesitant on joining the cast but I spoke with my amazing and caring producers Giselle Bailey and Nneka Onuorah and had a conversation with myself. From that moment on, I decided it was about more than just me, I had the opportunity to share my story with other transwomen and show them that even with the immense hardships – you can still persevere.
When did you first realize that this was something that could catapult you into a life of stability and/or success?
To be completely honest I didn’t realize it, it sort of just happened and I went with the flow and once I landed on the docu-series “My House” – that’s when it finally hit me like ‘girl this is serious’. Since then it’s been such a blessing to be included in so many different opportunities, projects and television series.
If you weren’t in the ballroom scene, what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t apart of the Ballroom scene I would definitely still be doing things dance related. The performing arts (singing and dancing) has been my first loves and apart of my life since the earliest stages of my life. I always say when I felt like I didn’t have anybody in my corner I always had the performing arts.
Do you think pop cultures sudden interest in voguing and ballroom culture helps to bring awareness to LGBTQ+ issues?
I think the ballroom scene does a great job bringing awareness to LGBTQ issues in a variety of ways. Ball throwers have innovative ways of incorporating activism and advocating for queer issues in categories which help bring issues to the forefront and educate all who attend ballroom events. They also have ballroom coalition retreats and weekends in which they hold conferences and seminars in order to attack issues in our community.
What relaxes Tati…what are you vices after a long week?
I have a couple of vices. First on my list would probably be traveling. As a Sagittarius it’s important for me to explore, it gives me peace of mind. Secondly, exercising is another vice that relaxes me. It allows me to release my built up tension and think much more clearly. Last but not least, soaking my body in a bubble bath with epsom salt, candles lit, R&B music playing and sipping some tea or some wine…and I am fine.
Is there love in Tati’s life?
There is one love currently in my life and his name is MYCAR…MY CAREER (laughing out loud). I’m single and not trying to mingle at the moment. I’m still establishing myself. Once I’m content with my placement in my career, I feel the love I deserve will come at that time.
The one thing that you’re most grateful for today?
I’m most grateful to be living and thriving as a black woman of trans experience. In this climate, many of my trans sister are dying and being murdered before they can live out their full life, so being alive is a blessing in itself.
What would you tell young people (or anyone really) that is struggling with their identity/sexuality and living in fear about “coming out” and walking in their truth?
For anyone struggling with their gender/identity or has any fear about coming out and walking in their truth…you have to put yourself first and do what makes you happy, you only live one life. So do you want to be miserable and not be unapologetically you for the fear of what others “think” of you?! Or are you going to be here, queer and show these MF’ers that you aren’t going anywhere. Remember, never make yourself uncomfortable to make others comfortable. I know it may be scary at first but sometimes you have to step out on faith and trust that the man upstairs has you covered baby and everything will be alright because it was already written.
What’s next for the Princess of Vogue? Or are you just enjoying the moment you’re in right now?
Well what’s next for me, hmmm – I’m in the process of working on a web series that will hopefully get picked up as a show. I’m also starting my first business, which is an online hair company specializing in wigs, hair extensions and hair care products. As well as making the big move from NY to LA (well the plan is to be bicoastal).
I will also (finally) be facilitating my long awaited Vogue classes which is a Female Figure Frenzy Fridays ( F4 ) Master Class – every first Friday of the month beginning this fall.
Be sure to follow Tati Miyake-Mugler to stay up-to-date on her upcoming business ventures, projects and her journey in the competition. Legendary is currently streaming on HBO Max.
All images courtesy of Tati Miyake-Mugler’s Instagram.