RuPaul’s Drag Race Star Kerri Colby On Her New Series Kerri Kares
I’m not going to lie; when the cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race season fourteen was announced, I was one hundred percent #TeamKerriColby. Having met and watched her perform in Brooklyn a few months previously, I was smitten by her kindness, beauty, and incredible performance skills.
Although her time on Drag Race was brief, I was so excited to watch her new series Kerri Kares on Wow Presents Plus and to talk with her about the show and more!
C. Tepper: What has it been like watching your drag mom and living legend Sasha Colby on Drag Race this season?
Kerri Colby: Oh my gosh. Watching Sasha just feels like a dream come true because I’ve always been such a huge fan of hers, and I’ve always been such a supporter and so inspired by her. So to see her, number one, getting the respect, adoration, and flowers she deserves is amazing. But it’s inspirational too. She has so much grace, so much power, so much beauty. And, you know, she really is continuing that.
It sounds so reverse for me to say this, but that Colby legacy because, you know, so much of what I did on the show, that energy, you know, we got from the same source. And in talking before I went on the show, during and after it, even now that it’s her time, we have a lot of the same things. Like our story, our life stories are similar and our views and viewpoints on life are very similar too. So it’s just amazing to see the legacy that is now the Haus of Colby continuing itself.
You know, there’s always going to be a mama in the room, whether it’s her or me. Just seeing her kind of like do those things that just warms my heart and makes me fall in love with her all over again.
C: Me too! So who have been some of your favorite guests on your new series, Kerri Kares?
K: Oh my goodness. I mean, all of my guests were amazing. I definitely had a ridiculous riot of a time with Silky [Nutmeg Ganache]. There’s a reason we got two episodes. Hopefully, in the future, that energy that I had with her, I can have with future guests because I had such a good time with her.
And then definitely speaking with Arisce [Wanzer], about just like trans joy in our trans journeys, was really healing and helpful. Cause I’ve known Arisce for years, like when I first moved to LA in 2015, I met her.
C: Where does your positivity come from?
K: My positivity comes from lived experience. Honestly. I feel like I’ve learned to see the glass as half full because I have lived with the glass being pretty much empty. And I feel like it’s impossible not to have a positive outlook when you feel like you’ve hit your rock bottom. I know a lot of people talk about when they hit their rock bottoms, and I think what’s weird for me, but I also guess a blessing in disguise is like, I feel like I hit my rock bottom at fifteen.
You know, with my life experience and with what I was going through, I really did not know if and when things would get better. But I chose to believe that my life was put here for a reason, that there was a purpose, and that I was, even though I feel like a lot of times, especially around that era, it was hard for me to be like, oh, there’s so much to learn in this.
I still told myself that because that’s how you get through day to day. And now, looking back, being as young as I am, I have such a mature outlook on life. And I also have learned to really appreciate that inner child because I feel like I went through a Benjamin Button of life experiences if that makes sense.
So I feel like I will forever live life with a lot more gratitude. I’m always going to look at my life as very blessed because I know where I was and how I got here. I do, and I don’t know how I got here actually sometimes, but I know that I am here now, and I know that in being here that there’s a lot of work to do and a lot of gratitude to give.
C: Going off of that, the show delves into some very serious topics in an open and honest way. Why was this an important aspect to highlight for the series?
K: You know, for me, I don’t like filler. I know it’s going to sound stupid, but I don’t like filler ingredients. I like for people to get the reality. I like for people to understand the truth. And I think it’s very important when you’re in a position like mine to share part of why I am the way I am. Part of why I have a platform honestly comes from my story and my lived experiences, you know?
I think a lot of people look up to me because they admire how I got where I got to and what it is that I went through. Whether they personally relate or they have children that relate, or just with an empathetic eye and are an ally, they relate. And we connect on that. So I think it’s so important to start with utter authenticity.
There are things that I do keep private. I think more now in my adult life at this point. But a lot of my early childhood experiences, I see that as part of my story. That’s the reason that I’m here today. I think a lot of people are like, well, how’d you get here? And it really does tie back to the base of where I came from.
And I don’t feel a need to hold anything to myself or keep painful details to myself because I feel like a lot of times when we’re dealing with the reality of gender and transitioning, and especially with it being such a hot topic globally and politically and just with some people that don’t have anything to do with transitioning, but they’re really taking a very scrutinizing look into being trans.
You can’t leave out the painful parts because they’re not leaving out the painful decisions or judgments. I might never change certain people’s minds on how they view and how they feel about things. But if you let them know the impact, weight, and reality of what this ignorance does to people, what seeds it sows into families, and how it truly breaks them apart, it doesn’t unify them.
You have to know the good things, but you also sometimes have to understand the negative so we can learn from our past.
C: That goes into my next question. So you talked a little bit about this on Twitter, but the trans and drag communities have recently been under attack by both the right-wing media and politicians. How do you think these communities can rise up against adversity?
K: We are in a very, very interesting era. I feel like the right-wing agenda has literally run out of relevant things to talk about. And I think they are incredibly irresponsibly dodging reality and what’s happening in this world. And how to be a solution versus identifying as a direct problem and a roadblock that they have literally focused their attention to a group of people, and they’ve made their entire campaign and all of the rage and their campaign about a group of people that make up less than one percent of the population.
And our only request is not to tell people, “Oh, you should transition,” or “Oh, buy your five-year-old child breasts and get them a nose job.” It has nothing to do with that at all. Our simple statement and our simple claim to life is that we want to be able to live our life authentically, as we encourage other people to live authentically.
No matter what that authenticity means to you, be authentic. Because so many people struggle with that. And we just want the right to thrive and not be under scrutiny because of this hateful rhetoric; it affects children and young people’s lives, but it also takes a lot of people’s lives. If we look at the crimes against trans people, it skyrockets year after year after year the more that we get brought up in the media.
And the more that we get brought up, especially irresponsibly and negligently, the more we get criminalized and compared to absolutely horrific comparisons. It’s completely left field. It’s completely out of hand, and it’s completely irresponsible and disrespectful. And it just goes to show that a group of people has come together on an agenda to attempt to erase trans history and queer history.
It’s a very dangerous snowball because if they can use people’s prejudices against us, they’re just going to have more ammunition and more fuel to continue to do that because that’s really what this is all about. It’s about prejudice, it is about people not being comfortable with things that are different, and it’s about trying to remove something that they find unsightly.
And that’s part of the problem I feel like we’re entering into as a society. Everyone has so many preferences, and some people are leaning toward a more eugenics side, like, “Let’s just completely remove anything that isn’t exactly what we wanna see and how we wanna see it.” And I think that that’s just so dangerous. But realistically, I just think that politicians, number one, I feel like the left side needs to definitely really, really authentically educate themselves if they are going to have to be speaking up for us.
You have to know what you’re talking about if you’re going to talk about something. You have to be authentic if you’re going to make this a part of their campaign and be inclusive and be about the people and the community. You have to really mean that, do the research, and commit your time and yourself to understand. Because I feel like that’s kind of what the party is becoming. It’s an understanding and a community of inclusivity. So you have to really understand what that inclusivity is.
I think the right needs to be held accountable because so many things have happened within the past six years, specifically through extreme right-wing agendas, that have nothing to do with morality or gender equality.
And there are a lot of things that are getting passed under the rug right now. And it’s very, very shocking to me that they’re being able to get away with so much of the things that they’re really doing and the policies they’re really pushing for because they’re using this rhetoric of minimizing and criticizing a group of people to kind of like overshadow and pass all of their agendas. And I think it’s really sad, and I think that this is not the way it needs to go, but for it not to go that way, we, as a community and allies, have to be united and have to speak up.
C: For my last question, in Kerri Kares you give a lot of advice. But what’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
K: Oh my goodness. The best advice I’ve ever received. It’s kind of been a collective amount of advice, some from Sasha, some from mentors I’ve had throughout my lifetime, and even people I’ve watched and seen online, like Oprah. I really, really draw a lot of love and inspiration from Oprah specifically. And it all deals with giving yourself time.
I think so many times we put ourselves in this rat race, you know because living honestly does become a rat race. It so often can feel like a competition and ultimately, the only person that you should be in a competition with is yourself because you should be comparing your old self to your new self a week ago, a month ago, a year ago, five, ten years ago. And comparing and seeing how similar and how different you are now and how close you are to being your ideal version of yourself because it’s a very intimate thing that only you know the answer to.
And comparing and contrasting those things back and forth with each other to feel like you’re living a fulfilled life ultimately. But you have to take time for that. There isn’t a race, but there is an accountability that we all owe to ourselves to invest in ourselves and to do better for ourselves. I think that, especially with transitioning specifically, a lot of people I’ve encountered always seem like they’re in such a rush. They’re like, hurry, hurry, hurry. Quick, quick, quick. Get it over with. I don’t want to be in this in-between stage.
But in truth, the transition itself is that journey of going from one thing to something else. And if you don’t sit there and relish and learn to love who you are in all stages of yourself, you’re going to end up missing so many beautiful pieces. You’re not going to be able to feel complete when you get to a certain destination because you were racing to get there; you didn’t even prepare to arrive.
So that’s huge advice I’ve received throughout my life. And I feel like I’ve really learned to try to apply that, you know, taking patience, giving grace as much as needed. That way, I can feel really whole about where I get to and where I’m going.
All episodes of Kerri Kares are now streaming exclusively on WOW Presents Plus.