Third time is most definitely, the charm; after star making turns on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 11 and All Stars 6 respectively, Ra’Jah O’Hara rose to the top of the pack and has snagged the crown on Canada’s Drag Race: Canada vs. The World! Ra’Jah and I sat down for an extensive conversation on her Drag Race journey and she discussed her journey to becoming Queen of the Mother Pucking World, some of her most iconic Drag Race moments, and why sisterhood this season was so important.
Michael Cook: Canada’s Drag Race: Canada vs. The World is your third time competing on a RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise, and it’s a truly different experience. What made you head back to Drag Race this time around?
Ra’Jah O’Hara: That’s why I went back, because it was a completely different experience. I left the other two experiences where they were, and I entered this one with brand new energy and I wanted to take home that title and my crown.
MC: Your All Stars 6 lip sync against Brooke Lynn Hytes to Janet Jackson’s “Miss You Much” has now gone down in herstory as one of the most iconic lip syncs ever. Was it surreal having Brooke Lynn now judge you as a judge on Canada vs. The World?
ROH: Thank you! I think what we did it that lip sync was most definitely iconic and it will live in herstory. Was it hard going back and having Brooke Lynn judge me? Not really. Of course, before going back, I did have to wrestle with the idea of having Brooke Lynn judge me, but I realized that is how most pageants are, the formers always come back and judge the girls. They are the most qualified though, they know everything that it takes.
I feel that Brook Lynn’s judging was on point, sisterhood and connection aside. I feel that she judged me fairly and I got the critiques that I was supposed to get. You know if you don’t give them anything bad to read, she doesn’t have anything bad to read (laughs)!
MC: There didn’t seem to be a great deal of the competitors battling it out on Canada vs. The World, and sisterhood was paramount. For example, when Iceis Couture left the competition, you were a den mother of sorts, immediately becoming a shoulder for her to cry on. It is so surreal to you to have now become one of the veterans that queens are looking up to, Vanity Milan for example, during this competition?
ROH: I think it is so crazy, I still wrap my head around that idea. Drag Race, even though I have done it a couple times it is still so new to me. Season 11 wasn’t too long ago, so it is still fresh and I still feel some of those emotions every now and then. I can’t really go back and watch too much of it. For me, it’s amazing that people have been able to open up to me as an artist and as a drag queen, from me touring and coming back and competing on all of the seasons that I have come back and competed on. It feels so great to know that people are actually seeing me for the person that I am, as opposed to a caricature that I was playing on Season 11.
MC: The Drag Race fandom is extremely vocal, and race continues to be an ongoing discussion. This season, Silky Nutmeg Ganache, Vanity Milan and yourself made sure that black excellence was shown in a glorious way. Was that intentional?
ROH: I actually don’t think that it was something that was done strategically, organically it’s just the way that it happened. In a lot of spaces, black queens or queens of color, we tend to band together because we know what the world has already offered us or what could happen in the world. Sometimes you have to show ourselves some love before we can show some love to other people. I felt that it was great that we all fell that the workroom was a safe place for us to really be ourselves without having race be a factor or with the challenges that come with being a queen of color.
MC: And your Drag Race UK sister Vanity Milan is an absolute scorching performer wouldn’t you say?
ROH: Oh my goodness..powerhouse, okay?! I’m glad that the world really got to see her in her true light and her essence too. A lot of times, especially as a queen of color, we leave shows and we don’t get the love that we deserve from the fandom, even though we are major characters on the show. To see her getting that love is amazing; I am so happy for her. I am actually proud of all of us and happy for all of us.
MC: That’s an excellent point; not since the All Stars/All Winners season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, I don’t think we have seen a Drag Race season filled with so much true positivity throughout the season.
ROH: Thank you. I think being in Canada and having that love around us…I don’t know, there really is something about Canada, the people there are absolutely nice. And when you lead with love, that is the message that RuPaul has been pushing since the beginning of her career that has really changed my life. If you lead with love, that is usually and typically what you get back. If you put out love, it changes and effects everything around you; and a little bit of change goes a long way. It just made the workspace that much more calm and energetic, and I think everyone wanted to come in, represent themselves really well, but also play the game very fairly.
MC: You certainly did look taken with Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau during his surprise workroom visit!
ROH: (laughs) I’m still looking for some duel citizenship! He is gorgeous, inside and out.
MC: What do you think your rose and thorn are of your Canada’s Drag Race journey?
ROH: The rose is me thinking about everything that I have accomplished on Canada’s Drag Race, what I have put out. Everything that you saw on the runway was absolutely made by me for this competition, it’s my blood, sweat and tears that went into it. So when I watch Canada’s Drag Race back, it’s a true representation of who I am. I’m not a perfect queen, I’m not excellent at everything, but I put my heart into everything that I do and I tru to put my best foot forward.
I think as a queen and the Queen of the Mother Pucking World, that is what we expect, what we hope for, and what we aspire to, and hopefuilly what we will inspire to do. The thorn possibly was being in the bottom, but that comes with the tettoritry of competing. I would say now that it’s over, it’s the fact that it’s actually over (laughs). It’s bittersweet; there are always possibilities, fingers cross.
MC: Your Drag Race experiences truly show the evolution of Ra’Ja O’Hara as a queen and as a performers. What does winning the title mean to you?
ROH: Winning the title for me, is validation of the person that I have grown into. The queen that I have grown into. On a personal level, but also as far as my career is concerned. Like I said, I started out Drag Race as a local queen representing my hometown to the best of my ability. It wasn’t quite enough and I wasn’t giving all of myself. I think throughout my journey, I’ve decided to devote a lot of myself and put all of me into my drag. Into every room that I walk into. I think getting crowned the queen is just validation of the queen that I am.
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