Nina West on Making 'The Drag Alphabet' With Kids, For Kids: 'Representation Matters'

Nina West Drag Alphabet
Courtesy Photo

Nina West, "Drag Alphabet"

RuPaul's Drag Race alum Nina West has made it clear since leaving the show that, of her many goals, she has one in particular that she is eager to accomplish -- bringing drag to the children's space. And with her latest video, she's another step closer to achieving the representation she's been campaigning for.

In her new video for "The Drag Alphabet" (premiering below), Nina West appear with a group of kids, both dressed in their best drag and not, in order to teach them some of her favorite slang in the business. From "A is for absolutely," to "Z is for Zsa Zsa," West takes each of the seven kids all the way through the alphabet, before exploding into a big conga line at the end of the clip. 

West tells Billboard that her approach to the video was a "no-brainer" -- she wanted to make content for kids, and found a fun, simple way to do it. "I have wanted to build a really solid foundation of a relationship in children's spaces for drag, and for drag entertainment to enter those spaces," she says. "So what a better way to revisit this idea and this topic than to start with the alphabet?"

Along with providing representation for queer youth, West also wanted to create space for another typically underrepresented group -- deaf and hard of hearing people. Two of the kids featured in the video, Daniela Maucere and Ivy Alona, are deaf and spend much of the video translating what West sings into ASL. 

West's decision to include kids from the deaf and hard of hearing community in "The Drag Alphabet" came when a friend of hers with a deaf child expressed that they wanted to see sign language in her "Drag is Magic" video in order to show it to their kid. "I felt so dumb in the moment, like, 'why didn't I think of that?'" Nina says. She ultimately decided to include Daniela and Ivy in the video so that instead of relying on subtitles only, deaf kids everywhere could feel included. "It sounds trite to say it all the time, but representation matters. You can see how it affects people's confidence and where they place themselves in the world, so it absolutely does matter for these kids to see themselves."

As far as her quest to bring drag into children's entertainment goes, West remains confident that she will be able to accomplish her goal, saying that despite backlash from conservative groups at ideas as simple as Drag Queen Story Hour, the core message of queer content for kids still remains strong. "We want to provide these kids with a bright and beautiful educational entertainment opportunity that gives them the chance to see themselves and feel worthy," she says. "I don't know why the message of telling a child that they are worthy or loved, regardless of the source, is so problematic to some." 

Check out Nina West's new video for "The Drag Alphabet" below: