Before the RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season 3 finale aired Thursday (March 15) night, fans expected Trixie Mattel or Shangela to be vying for the crown; but after a shocking twist that allowed the eliminated queens to pick the top 2, Trixie and Kennedy Davenport ended up lip syncing for their legacy, with RuPaul selecting Trixie as the winner.
So no, frontrunner Shangela did not win – but if she’s taught us one thing over the course of her three seasons on Drag Race, it’s that you count her out at your own risk.
The day after the finale, Billboard spoke to Shangela about the “disheartening” twist, holding her head high, acting alongside Lady Gaga in the upcoming A Star Is Born and why Jenifer Lewis thinks Shangie is All About Eve-ing her after that Snatch Game.
Before we start I have to say, I loved you before the season started, and I loved you more as it continued. And although Trixie is incredible, in my eyes you are the winner of All Stars 3. You were so fantastic.
Thank you. Let me give you my routing number for this $100,000.
Can I pay in installments?
Your love is $100,000 for me. No worries.
So did you watch the finale, and how are you feeling today?
Yes, I have a weekly viewing party at Micky’s, which is where I got my start seven years ago. So it was nice to be able to come home and experience this journey with all of them, because they’ve been invested in me since day one. So yes, I watched the finale. My mom was there – I had to hold her back from tearing the screen down. When they announced who was going from the four to the two, I was disappointed. I remember being disappointed in that moment, but I wasn’t all too surprised. I’d hoped people would not base their judgments on personal vendettas or however they wanted to play it, but I felt I put forward my best. And that’s all you can do in life. You do your best and leave the rest. And that’s why I’ve been able to hold my head high throughout the entire thing.
Everyone talked about you as a frontrunner, but then the eliminated queens favored Kennedy and Trixie. As you mentioned on the episode, that could be because you sent a number of them home, but do you think friendships also played a role in who they chose?
I’ll let the fans and viewers be the judge of what their decision was based off of. We all saw the same episode. My only concern with it all was when Ru gave us the twist I was like, “Oh Lord.” Although I guess he thought humanity will rise above, I knew, based on a couple episodes ago when these girls came back to compete and return, they were feisty. They were heated about having to leave. So I knew I didn’t have any fans on the jury. This was not a jury of my peers — I was going to jail, bitch. The thing that got me was the girls, in our deliberation, no one was interested in hearing how well I’d done in the competition since they’d left. No one cared how many challenges or lip syncs I’d won, they didn’t care about the track record at all. And remember, some of these girls hadn’t been there since day two. They didn’t know what happened, so how are you making a fair choice? What are you basing your choice on if it’s not how someone has performed in the competition? That was the most disheartening thing. I came here, these were the rules I was given, this is how the game must be played; I played it to the best of my ability, and then right before we cross the finish line, there’s a twist. And there’s nothing I can do. You feel helpless in that moment. But I held my head up, because I want to represent to my fans, “Guys, if you don’t give up, you can be a winner.” And I think from season 2 to 3 to now, that’s my story, and I love that.
Yes, when you started, you had an incredible personality, and now it feels like your art is on that level, too.
It had to catch up. (laughs)
So you had a heated exchanged with Thorgy, but then she picked you for top 2. Did that surprise you?
When Thorgy left the second time, I thought we hashed everything out in the workroom. We were on fairly good terms. But it was still a shock to see 1) she was a vote for me and 2) she was my only vote. But in life, you don’t get to control how people behave, you can only control how you react. And my reaction to this has been to focus on the great things I did this season and the way I could rep for my fans who have been with me from day one. And now it’s onto bigger and better, honey. Keep it moving.
Speaking of, your new song “Pay Me” is out now.
Yes, it’s with the producer I work with, Ryan Skyy. I’m really excited and I hope everyone checks it out. We be on our grind, we deserve to get paid — whether that’s in recognition or coin.
So is more music coming?
We’re going to be shooting videos for “Pay Me” and three other songs I have that we’re releasing this year. In addition to that, my goal has always been to continue working as an actor in and out of drag. So I’m in the sequel Hurricane Bianca 2 that comes out this summer, and I have a role in the Lady Gaga-Bradley Cooper A Star Is Born. I’m in drag, I’m kind of Lady Gaga’s drag mother, a bar owner. I can’t give much more away than that. But it’s gonna be really fun, it’s not a giant role but it’s a good role that’s memorable. I’ve heard from a lot of people on the team I’m going to be very happy. So between now and the end of the year, let’s hope nothing ends up on the cutting room floor. But I’m very, very excited.
How was she to work with?
A dream come true. When you look up to someone, idolize them, and their journey and experience and how they work, and then you get to work with them and see they’re everything you dreamed. And she was everything I had ever dreamed she would be. Professional, kind, funny.
Rewatching the season, when you watched your Miss Cleo for RuPaul, did you hear the Irish? Or did it sound Jamaican to you?
(In Miss Cleo voice) “What are you talking about darling? She was fully Jamaican. I am Miss Cleo, I can see the future.” Did you get it? So what do you think?
I have to say, I think it sounds a little Irish and Jamaican.
(Screams.) Well I’ve always been one to blend the cultures darling, I believe in all of us being one. (laughs) Good thing I went with Jenifer Lewis, huh?
That was so good.
I was always a fan of hers, even before I moved to L.A. to pursue acting. I met her and worked as her personal assistant for a couple years before going on Drag Race. Then she told me I was too famous to be her assistant and we were just friends. Which was good, because then I moved into her basement. And I’ve been in her basement since then, since 2010.
Wow. Did she see your Snatch Game, and what did she say?
Oh yes, she calls me Eve Harrington now. She says (in Jenifer Lewis voice) “Eve, Eve, little Eve. Look at you trying to take my whole career. Honey.” But she loves me and will say, “Let me tell you something – you are my baby, you let anyone know that you got a MasterClass in Jenifer Lewis!”