You simply cannot get enough of Vanessa Vanjie Mateo. Whether it’s her signature raspy and distinct tone, her always hilarious delivery, or the emerging improv and acting talents that she showed off on this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race there is no doubt; “Miss Vanjie” is so much more than a meme. Climbing her way to the Top Five this season was a major accomplishment for a queen that was eliminated first last season, and while she may have ultimately ending up going home after a lip sync against Brooke Lynn Hytes, this is definitely not the last we will be seeing of Miss Vanie! I caught up with Vanessa on her epic return to the Drag Race main stage, what it was like showcasing some of her previously unseen talents this year, and exactly where she and fellow competitor (and surprise love interest) Brooke Lynn Hytes go from here.
Michael Cook: Vanessa, you had the an epic first season on RuPaul’s Drag Race after only one episode and when you returned for Season 11, you got to show off your talents and made it all the way to the Top Five. How does it feel to have gotten a chance to really show off your talents for the fans this year?
Vanessa Vanjie Mateo: Honey, I am in every episode, I loved it (laughs! Of course I enjoyed getting to get a second chance from Mama Ru and being able to show everyone what I could do and I got to last much longer in the competition!.I really feel completely blessed by the entire experience; she did that, baby!
MC: What were you determined to change your second time around on Drag Race?
VVM: Well I knew how to sew, but I definitely came in less confident this time around. I had to really not question everything; I was given a second chance and girl, I was not gonna mess that up. I definitely had to talk myself off of the ledge more than a couple times!
MC: What was your favorite part of being back for Season 11 in terms of the challenges?
VVM: Definitely the Britney Spears/conversion therapy improv challenge. My team was great and I really got to let loose. I have always loved acting and I have always acted the fool. I don’t mind embarrassing myself either, I was just excited I got to do it on the show! I was sad that I didn’t get to do it last year, so it was great to get to do it this time around!
MC: This year’s cast seemed to have a little bit more friction that others, with some of the ladies taking critiques that may have originated on the main stage, back into the workroom. Why do you think that was?
VVM: You know, friction is a funny thing. It is bound to happen eventually and it’s definitely gonna happen when everyone wants to win. I don’t take personally though, siblings argue you know? When we understand that at the end of the day we respect each other, and then we’re good. When things were happening with the other girls this season, I would try to help them get resolved as much as I possibly could and be a bit of a mediator, even if I ended up cussing (laughs)!
MC: You and Brooke Lynn Hytes have the dubious distinction of having the first ever public “showmance” on RuPaul’s Drag Race. What is it like to be getting too much attention about it? Do you think that it could continue post Drag Race?
VVM: You know, my first thought in my head was that I was surprised; this was the first time that this had ever happened on the show? I mean, you’re all stuck together for so long! I look at it as, I didn’t get the crown, so I better get something! Will it continue-we will see how things go, Brooke and I are taking things day by day, we’re still very close, I’ll say that.
MC: Florida is known for some pretty amazing drag throughout the state. Who is a queen from your area that you think would be absolutely fantastic on RuPaul’s Drag Race?
VVM: There are definitely a few queens that I think would go in there and kill the competition. There is a Puerto Rican queen though, that is absolutely sickening, her name is Queen Bee Ho. If she got in there, I think she would send everyone packing, she is amazing!
MC: What is next for Vanessa Vanjie Mateo?
VVM: I’m definitely gonna be touring all over the world and traveling with all the other girls and performing with them. I want my own Netflix series you know, something like that. American Horror Story is my favorite show and I am definitely trying to get myself on that show; can somebody tell Ryan Murphy? I would love my own Netflix series too; hustling is just naturally my nature. I definitely am gonna be releasing some music, but I’m not just throwing it out there, I’m doing it right! I always say if you want greatness, it has to come naturally. Maybe I’ll drop my album like Beyonce and it’’s just release it by surprise one night!
MC: What gives you the most pride?
VVM: I think I get the most pride from the people that I have the opportunity to meet. When they tell me about how the show has touched them and it makes me realize the kind of impact you are really having on people. I got to meet people at DragCon last year and met so many of the fans. I saw so many of the kids, it’s really the little ones. I have to hold back tears when I see them coming all dressed up; even talking about it now gets me a little choked up. I love seeing families embracing that, just everyone being together. I have to keep tissues next to me when I see em’ coming baby! We all just bring a different story and it’s important to be your authentic self; it’s for the fans. They want to hear our authentic stories and I love telling them mine.
Grab her new single “Cookies” (featuring Drew G) here:
All Art Courtesy of VH1