As the self-proclaimed first “thirst trap” of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 15, Aura Mayari immediately got people talking, but it was some beyond intriguing runway looks and a main challenge win that kept viewers watching. While she has departed Drag Race, she leaves with a fresh perspective on herself as well as the experience as a whole. Aura and I sat down to discuss her Drag Race run, some of the off-screen struggles she faced, and what she has planned for her post-Drag Race career.
Michael Cook: When did Aura Mayari make her arrival in the world of drag?
Aura Mayari: I did a lot of musical theater before, during and before collage in high school. After graduating college, I started working in an office doing sales and marketing and I lost my medium to express myself artistically. I was always craving it and missed being on stage. I did Rent and played Angel Dumott Schunard. I had to do a lot of research for the role, went to a lot of drag shows, watched a lot of documentaries and started getting into the art form that is drag. I decided to create my own character because I thought it was something that I could do outside of a musical and still be able to do my nine to five job. In Chicago, I was working a nine to five job and then doing my gigs at night, and here I am now. There is a whole process also, quitting drag at one point, moving to Nashville, quitting my nine to five job and then four months later, auditioning for Drag Race and getting on. And now I am here!
MC: How do you look back on your entire Drag Race experience as you reflect back on it?
A: I am very, very thankful for this experience. It has been a roller coaster ride of course, but I have learned a lot about myself during this time, while taping as well as getting onto the show. It was a dream come true, I was on top of the world. Being on the show, one thing that I wish I would have done differently ..relax! (Laughs)! I think that I was in my head a lot. I feel like it comes with a lot of the preparation for the show. It was one of the hardest things that I have ever prepped for, the preparation for the show is so difficult.
I was also healing from an injury and I had to travel and find designers that would help me out. I cried almost every day before I flew to LA just because things were not going right. My wigs did not arrive until a few hours before I actually had to leave for the airport, so I didn’t have a time for myself to mentally prepare myself before I went there. I think that really dragged into the filming of the show. I wish I was more relaxed, but it was a very awesome experience of course.
MC: You mentioned learning a great deal; what do you think is one lesson that you leaned that you think that you can take into the next phase of your career?
A: Accepting my flaws; I thought before that I did. I’ve worked very hard to have mental stability and I am very self-aware, very aware of my emotions and stuff like that. I am aware of my insectaries as well, I do accept my insecurities and I do talk openly about it. During this whole process, I talked about my insecurities, about my speaking abilities, that I am not the most well spoken person. I don’t have the largest vocabulary that I can pull from, that is why sometimes when I am being interviewed I will pause here and there because I can’t find the right word to say. Throughout this whole process, I started to just accept that, that is just the way that it is and to “stop explaining yourself”! There are a lot of people out there that relate to me and they say things like “forget the people that judge the way you speak, we get you queen”. I am getting a lot of that and I am feeling very special that I am getting that reception from people who are having the same experiences in life and with those experiences.
MC: In terms of finding your words, writing can be the same way for so many people; I find that it helps to simply breathe and walk away for a few moments and then somehow, the words end up coming.
A: I can fake it in writing, I was really good at wiring essays. When I have to do it verbally, I lose my words.
MC: Hearing your story though, will help people. There are others who sometimes struggle to find their own words and your openness will help others.
A: I feel like I now am in the process of accepting that and embracing myself. In the beginning I was seeing comments about myself online and that made me more insecure.
MC: It truly is hard to “not read the comments” even though its best to not read them, right?
A: Listen, they have the audacity to tag us. I do avoid them now, I have learned my lesson. These past few weeks, I have been avoiding the comments and it’s been great for me.
It’s still a learning process. For most of us, this is our first time being in the public eye. We are still learning and it is still a process.
MC: You mentioned sometimes being a quieter person, but you were actually present for one of the first big “Untucked” battle of the season between Marcia Marcia Marcia and Malaysia Babydoll Fox, which spilled into the next episode with Malaysia and Mistress Isabelle Brooks. What were you thinking during those moments?
A: You know, I was probably just worrying about myself. With drama like that, if I’m not involved, I don’t want be in it. Even in real life in the drag community, there is going to be cattiness and shadiness. I work in Nashville and I have eight sisters that I work with every night and there is obviously going to be disagreements and fights. I am always the person that they look at during the arguments for validation or something. I’m like “Sis you guys need to stop now and talk about it tomorrow. Feelings are heightened right now and it’s not going go to anywhere”. It’s a show and people are fighting and I don’t even want to deal with it; I just want to deal with Aura (laughs)!
MC: What do you want to do now that you have the RuPaul’s Drag Race platform in front of you?
A: Obviously traveling, that is definitely part of it. I don’t know if you follow me on Twitter, but I used to write songs, play my guitar and write songs. I want to create music as a boy, as well create music in drag. The boy would be the vulnerable and emotional me that talks about feelings, and then in drag it would be the one that’s very uplifting. That is one of my goals and I am working on one of the songs now that I am trying to finish. I also think that I am very known for my makeup, for my beat. I wanted to do a makeup palette, an eyeshadow palette, so hopefully that will happen. I also want to work with mental health charities, and I am going to be releasing merch that will help donate money for an organization that my dad volunteered at before he passed away. I want to be an advocate for mental health; I constantly talk about it online and I will continue to do so.
MC: Finish this phrase; Aura is…
AM: :Aura Mayari is a warrior in life. Who has gone through so many difficulties, but is standing here today as a strong woman.
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