Miss Naomi Carter brought her own brand of Gambian chic to the competition, making herstory as the first queen of Gambian descent to join RuPaul’s Drag Race. While she has departed the competition, we got to see Carter meet some of her personal heroes and stomp the runway in some stunning looks. I sat down with Miss Naomi Carter to chat about her beginning in the drag scene, what it’s like coming from a country like Gambia, and what she wants to do with this global platform that Drag Race UK has afforded her.
Michael Cook: So much of the RuPaul’s Drag Race UK experience is about having a good time during the process; did you enjoy your Drag Race run?
Miss Naomi Carter:THe first day that I walked in, was thinking that it was such a strong competition. I kept in the forefront of my mind to just have fun. If I don’t have fun and get stressed, it’ll show. If I just have fun and the best time that is all that can do. Plus, I am on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, my favorite tv show ever-of course I’m gonna have fun! Even the week that was on the bottom and got saved-obviously I was happy I got saved-, I was not going to even let me being in the bottom overshadow how much fun I was having and I wasn’t going to stop.
MC: You are the first queen of Gambian descent in drag race herstory. How does it feel to be shattering that glass ceiling?
MNC: It is crazy to me. In Gambia it is illegal to be gay and you can get up to five years for dressing like a woman and it is one of the places where it is worse than five years in prison if you know what I mean. I feel like there are certain cultures where gay people “don’t exist” but let’s be honest, in every culture there is a queer person. I know for a fact that there will be people in Gambia that will feel so uncomfortable being there, but I am that representation for them. I am showing them that you can get out into the world and live your authentic self. I hope that the people that are in Gambia that are having a hard time can see me as an inspiration and know that there is hope and that they can get out.
MC: What do you think your rose and thorn are of your Drag Race UK experience?
MNC: There are so many rose moments…This may sound like a strange one, but RuPaul mentioning my accent was a little bit of a rose moment. I didn’t even know that my accent was a thing until she mentioned it. Now I feel like what she said about my accent, I’ve found a power that I’ve always had but I never knew that I had. From that, I’ve taken the good learning experience to just be myself and people will love it; I am definitely taking that advice. My thorn would definitely have to be my knee injury. We move on, I’m still alive, I’m breathing and I’m healthy, that’s all that matters.
MC: Watching you meet British Vogue Editor in Chief Edward Enninful was truly a rose moment I would say.
MNC: That moment was everything; that is what mean, there are just so many “rose” moments! There have been so many gray moments, I mean the whole thing is a rose! Edward Enninful, that was a moment. The Editor In Chief of Vogue-yes please! I was just shaking..
MC: You received the opportunity to pass a message to Naomi Campbell through Edward Enninful, who is her best friend. Did it cross your mind for even the smallest second that she may actually be there?
MNC: I did girl! I thought either she was coming in the room or she’s on the runway ,it’s going to be one of the two. It was so sweet he said “I’m best friends with Naomi, let me know what you’d like to say and I’ll give her a text after this”. There was a little bit where you didn’t see where I was saying how much I loved both him and her, and how much it meant to not just meet these icons and to have that representation. It was such a big movement.
As much as I loved that experience, I was so happy for Shea Couleé, (who got to meet Campbell during her All Stars 8 run). A lot of black people we have a lot of black icons in common. I love Shea, I am obsessed! I love Shea and I love Naomi so when I saw the episode it my two favorite people! I was totally obsessed…
MC: You became the Switzerland of this season of Drag Race UK and ended up directly in the middle of every fight that broke out this season so far. How do you think that happened?
MNC: I don’t like drama, I can handle it but I’d rather stay out of it it’s not really the vibe. However, if there’s a fly on the way you best believe I am going to look over and go “oop”. I just seemed to be getting caught up in it all the time. Especially with the Cara (Melle) and Tomara (Thomas) fight, these girls have known each other for years. I don’t want to jump in and put my opinion on it. They’re best mates and know each other for years, so I’m just gonna stand here (laughs).
MC: How did the world of drag initially open up to you?
MNC: One of my exes showed me RuPaul’s Drag Race. The village where I’m from, it’s very white. I wouldn’t say that it’s “anti-LGBT”, but me growing up being a black gay kid, I had a lot at stake, for being black and gay. My ex showed me the show and just coming from the mentality of where I was from, I didn’t understand it and I had never seen a drag queen before. I still watched it don’t get it me wrong, (laughs). I got to a certain point in watching Drag Race and I thought “I could probably give this a go”! I had no makeup skills, I just started practicing from YouTube and it was Doncaster Pride coming up. When I got there, the queens who are now my drag mothers were at Pride.
My first drag mother is Bi-Paula Abdul, she’s bipolar so it’s fine. She got the inspiration from RuPaul and there was a song by Paula Abdul that season; she was like “BiPolar/BiPaula!. I have a drag mom/sister and she’s a POC named Ebony White. BiPaula came over and said “Cmom babs, tell me all about yourself”! She told me that they never do auditions, but they were going to hold an open audition for the job family. I got in and from then I have been doing drag with my drag family for the past two years and that’s when I moved and wanted to experience something new.
MC: Now that you’ve experienced RuPaul’s Drag Race UK and have this global platform, what do you want to do?
MNC: I want to take over the world, I really do. I want to be in every country, every city, like Lady Gaga “another club, plane another club” (laughs). I want to make some music too. I can rap in a masculine voice and sing in a very feminine way, you may not even believe it’s the same person. I want to do something really creative where it’s like “Naomi Carter ft Miss Naomi Carter”!
MC: There are so many kids from all over the world watching Drag Race, including those from your country. What would you tell those children yourself if they read this or watch you on the show?
MNC: The place that you are right now might not be the best, but times can progress and move forward. In countries like that, we need some activism and some real change. If we just stay and sit complement nothing changes. In countries where it’s illegal to be gay, it’s like, what is going on? In my mind and in a lot of people’s minds it doesn’t make sense; how can it be illegal to be human? It’s wild to me. We need drastic change and activism; I want to see protests a the whole lot. It;’s not just Gambia, it is in so many countries, the mentality is so back in time. That is why I am glad that I could bring to the competition someone that others could look up to the way I looked up to Naomi Campbell and RuPaul. Hopefully from this experience, somewhere out there I can be a beacon of light and hope.
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