Vanity Milan came into Canada’s Drag Race: Canada vs. The World with an elevated sense of determination & a plan to show the naysayers a thing or two. After a star making turn on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 3, Milan found herself embraced by both the fans & her “idols” Silky Nutmeg Ganache & Ra’Jah O’Hara.I sat down to chat with Vanity about her Canada’s Drag Race vs. The World experience, the Drag Race fandom, and why having that one person to help ground you is crucial.
Michael Cook: How did it feel to be a part of Canada’s Drag Race: Canada vs. The World?
Vanity Milan: It felt incredible. I went through a really bad time after my season. I know that I did really great, I made Top Four on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 3. There were just a lot of nasty things said on social media to me by the fans that made me even question if I wanted to do drag anymore. Thankfully I had a great support system and when I got the call for Canada’s Drag Race: Canada vs. The World, I said “this is my opportunity to show those naysayers that I didn’t get carried though the season. I got there because I fought be in that Top Four position”. I think being asked to on Canada vs. The World, to be asked back, it was like “this is a redemption, this is what I am going to show you, and you are going to eat it. And I am going to serve a look every single time”.
MC: Were the attacks that you received online race-oriented, an attack on your performance in the Season 3 Drag Race UK competition, or a hybrid of both?
VM: It was a hybrid of both, it was that I got carried through the season because I am the only black queen, it was that I only got through because I knew how to lip sync, or “Mother Ru kept you because of this, or they only kept you because of that”. It was a very hybrid mix between the both.
MC: Racism in the drag community continues to be an extremely important conversation to continue to have, and so many Drag Race girls are leading those conversations.
VM: Hence why in the first episode of Canada vs. The World, it was very important for me; the infamous line “black queens are not the same so remember our names”, I definitely wanted to slap back at that fandom. When the Season 2 tour was going on, I got tagged every day as Asttina Mandella, as Tia Kofi, as Tayce, and I would write back to those people and say “I don’t know if I can be in two places at once time or you’re really blind, but this person is not me”.
I mean, you can’t confuse me with Tayce or Tia Kofi. Asttina Mandella I can understand, but she’s taller than me, with a great physique and an amazing pair of legs, and I’m just sitting going “I wish”! She’s a fantastic performer, so I don’t know how you can confuse any queen from any franchise with another queen. We’re all different in our own right and we come onto the show, showing different sides of our personalities and different things that we bring to the table as black, POC people and it’s like “how dare you”? First of all, try to confuse me with someone else; I am completely different from every other queen you have ever seen.
MC: Canada’s Drag Race: Canada vs.The World seems to have been the true Ru-demption that you were looking for, is that fair to say?
VM: It’s very fair to say. I posted something on Twitter the other day and it was just me saying how I was feeling. The comments that I received, it was my most liked Twitter post, my most commented Twitter post, it just really showed me that there are a lot of people out there who love what I do, who have seen the glow up, who have seen me come to a place in my life and a place in my drag career where I am really comfortable.
I know I’m not funny, I know I’m not the acting queen, but you know what you will definitely get-a great lip sync, a great performance, and you will definitely get your money’s worth when you come to a Vanity Milan show. I think that is what I was aiming to do, make sure people know how I was and what I stood for. Regardless of Season 3 of the UK, with what I am bringing to the table now, you can see that the growth is definitely growing!
MC: You showed on your initial season of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK that you are an absolute force to be reckoned with; your lip syncs are now legendary. Has that always been the type of performer you are?
VM: Yeah, dance has been my background, performing arts is my background. When I am able to get on stage and do the thing that I love on stage, which is get on stage and entertain a crowd of people and embody that song that I am performing, that is where I light up. I think that is important for me, you pay your money to come to a show you are going to get a good show. You’re not going to see me wear the same wig, in the same outfits, doing the same show, You are doing to get four or five different outfits, and I thank my husband for the outfits that he creates for me because that is what I love to give; I love to give a performance. I think Beyoncé has taught me quite a lot when it comes to performing. It is a great feeling; people are amazed at what happens when I get on stage.
MC: You spoke about your husband and his impact on your career during your time on Canada’s Drag Race. What has his own evolution been like from being somewhat unsure of the drag portion of your life to now being the head seamstress for Vanity Milan Inc.?
VM: Well he’s not just the head seamstress for Vanity Milan Inc., he is also doing queens from Season 4, which was amazing for me. He did Baby’s outfits, he did a lot of Copper Top’s outfits, which is really great. It’s not just me, and he has had a very important role in making sure that I remain humble. Sometimes I get a little bit…(laughs). He will remind me of the day I started drag, and say “go back to that Vanity Milan”. It’s great to have it; mental health is very important when I speak about it. Having someone with you that will tell you to calm down, to hone it in, when to just be one with yourself and when you need that time for you, it is important to have that one person.
MC: What do you think your rose and thorn are from your Canada’s Drag Race: Canada vs. The World experience?
VM: My rose about being part of being Canada vs. The World is having sisters this time around. This time around, I had two amazing iconic black queens that I have looked up to, they didn’t come from the UK, but I have looked up to them for such a long time. Meeting them, getting on that main stage, and getting to perform with them was the highlight of my drag career. They, within their rights, are legends; they have done this three times now. It’s like, “are you kidding me”?
The thorn is going back to Season 3 and allowing that demon to come back and attack me when it comes a comedy or acting challenge. I look at it though and I say “well, I did better than I did on my season in the comedy challenge. I was a lot funnier”. In the acting challenge, Tracy tried to do me dirty but it’s fine (laughs). I didn’t know what camera to look at, was it the Drag Race camera or the camera we were meant to be looking at, but it’s all right, I won’t get her for that (laughs).
MC: You mentioned the demons that come back, which we all have. RuPaul calls it the “inner saboteur”. For you, it could have been partially what social media was saying after your initial season. Do you think you have finally conquered those demons?
VM: Up until this point, two days ago when I was sitting in Roscoe’s with Raja, I turned around and said “I am a fucking icon” Whatever anyone has said about me I have taken that, ran with it, and I have thrown it back in their faces. My makeup is busted and greasy-my makeup now is stunning and you can’t tell me nothing. My performance is ten times better and I am getting more confident in my drag. I will continue to take those naysayers comments and throw them back in their faces every opportunity that I get to to do so. Because you can never break what I have built; that’s it.
MC: It’s been great seeing Roscoe’s show so much love to the Canada’s Drag Race vs the World queens also, it is a great space in the heart of Chicago.
VM: The best! I don’t know if you have ever been to Heaven in the UK, but the audiences are so huge. In Roscoe’s, it is a smaller venue, but the LOVE! And the tips; I have never received tips like that in my life. I said, this is paying for the ride back (laugh)
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