After nearly four months of grueling competition, RuPaul’s Drag Race season 14 is finally coming to a close.
On Friday (April 22), the top five queens of the season — Angeria Paris VanMicheals, Bosco, Daya Betty, Lady Camden and Willow Pill — will duke it out in a lip-sync smackdown for the crown. The winner will not only walk away with the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar, but a boosted cash prize of $150,000, while the runner-up queen will also take home an additional $50,000 thanks to a new rule introduced just before the finale.
Joining the season 14 cast as the Southern belle from ATL, Angeria Paris VanMicheals immediately made a splash with her entrance into the franchise. Taking home a pair of challenge wins early on and remaining in the judges’ high rankings throughout the season, Angeria quickly established herself as the queen to beat — which she plans to ride through the finale this weekend.
Below, Billboard chats with Angeria ahead of the finale airing about her adoration for the drag pageant circuit, her budding on-screen romance with fellow finalist Lady Camden, and why she feels she should be crowned America’s Next Drag Superstar.
You made it to the finale, Angie! Congratulations, how are you feeling on making it this far?
Baby, I feel phenomenal! Can you hear it in my voice? I am on like cloud 100. [Laughs.]
As well you should be, because you killed the competition! Early on in the show’s run, you became that queen, even for a lot of alumni from the show, with everybody saying, “Oh, Angeria’s got this in the bag.” What was that experience like for you?
You know what, it was shocking, it was surprising, it felt absolutely amazing. I never would have expected the response from being on the show, even knowing that I had peaked that early on the show was already a surprise to me! So then to even get this response after it aired, it was amazing. I will say, it adds a little bit of pressure — don’t get me wrong, it does feel really amazing in the moment, but there’s a lot of pressure that comes with that because you just want to keep doing amazing. You almost feel like you have to top yourself, no pun intended.
I’m sure. Another thing I loved watching about your run is the way that fans immediately fell in love with you, especially after you found a new way to pronounce the word “ugly.” Can you describe what goes through your head when you are transformed into a meme thanks to this show?
It’s crazy, let me tell you — I was told it was going to happen. I think we all come on the show with all these little catchphrases and things like that, but it’s not those things that hit it big most of the time. It’s those little moments that you don’t even know are going to happen, that you don’t even remember. So, watching back, honestly, that’s just the way the word came out of my mouth! And then suddenly everybody thought it was funny, all the girls thought it was funny, all the judges thought it was funny. I did not expect it to become this viral moment; I’m doing Cameos for people, and they say, “Can you please tell my grandma ‘Happy Birthday’ and call her an ‘ug-a-ly b—h?'” Which, yes, of course I can!
I mean, think back to Vanessa Vanjie Mateo — she had a whole entrance line, a whole suite of hilarious moments on seasons 9 and 10, but the thing she’s remembered for is walking backwards and saying her name three times!
Exactly! [Laughs.] swear, it’s the same way today. Like, I hear “ug-a-ly” at least five times a day. Like, I see it at least five times a day on my social media, where someone will come out of nowhere and be like, “I’m rooting for you, you ug-a-ly b—h!” I love it, I laugh every time I see it.
Another thing I really love about you is that all of the looks you brought, along with being beautiful and polished, are very representative of pageant-style drag. Why is it important to you to continue honoring that style of drag?
That is an awesome question, because I love my pageant background. I am so thankful for my pageant background in Atlanta. As we call it in pageants, the “old school drag” is what we alway bring it back to. The thing about it is — to the rest of the world, yes, it’s almost out of date. But actually in the pageantry world, it’s still kept alive every day. So like I said, when people see it, it’s not that I’m not up-to-date with fashion: It’s just that this is literally me, representing the kind of drag that I do on a daily basis before Drag Race was involved! These are the people I’m around, this is the style I’m influenced by, and I love it so much.
That is what attracted me to drag; the big hair, a lot of jewels all up my neck, just looking very glamorous all of the time, and being very polished. Getting on the show, I knew that it was important for me to stay true to myself and what my brand was, and that’s my brand 100%, pageant.
Fully — I loved the way you took the challenges presented and interpreted them through the lens of pageant drag. Like, I adored your tutu look, I think you nailed that one.
Yes, that is one of my favorites! It was probably one of the more controversial runways of mine, because all the girls on Twitter got upset. [Laughs.] They all want to say, “It doesn’t fit the theme!” But like I said, I wanted to take every challenge, every theme and put it in Angeria’s world, and Angeria’s world is glamour, it’s gowns, it’s pageant! So whether you understand it, or wear it yourself, I’m giving it to you in my style, my take.
Watching your relationship blossom with Lady Camden was really lovely. I know you’ve mentioned that her accent is what first drew you in, but what was it about Camden as a person got you so invested in your relationship?
Well, yes, the accent is definitely what got me at first. Aside from that, it was really the fact that she is the first person I’ve ever met from the U.K., and I’ve always been fascinated with people from different countries. Like, when they say opposites attract, that is fully what happened — we could not be more different, but I felt so comfortable with her. She was the first person out of the girls that I met to actually express any kind of worry or doubt about herself in the challenges. So, that made me more comfortable coming to her in those moments, and we became that emotional core for each other for the rest of the season. CamGeria forever, baby!
Everything she says, every joke she tells me, it makes me laugh because of that accent, I swear! It’s just so hilarious, and I would laugh so hard. So maybe it is my fault after all that she bombed Snatch Game, because I did laugh at all of her jokes before the challenge. [Laughs.]
So, heading into the finale, the cash prize got bumped up to $150,000 for the winner — when you heard about this rule change, what was your reaction?
You know what, honestly, it was really like, “Oh, for real?” It’s not like you’re not gonna go hard for $100,000, but it almost adds a little fun pressure once that extra $50k is added on, because now it’s all gonna pay off way more than you thought it would. It seems like the stakes are a lot higher, even though we should be gunning hard anyways! Regardless, it’s more than what I’ve got in my bank account right now, so b—h I gotta win! It’s amazing to know that’s what’s on the line here. It makes you really want to secure it.
Well, speaking of winning — if you were to pitch yourself to America right now, why would you say you deserve the season 14 crown?
I think I should win the crown because I am a fearless entertainer. I come from Sparta, Georgia, the middle of nowhere, and I did what most people where I’m from are not open-minded enough to do. I put myself out on this platform, I allowed myself to try things that I had never done before, and I excelled at them! I feel like half of it was because of skill, but the other half was because I was willing to do it. So, I honestly feel like that, and my development on the show, as well as my track record all show that I have put everything out there. I deserve to be rewarded for all of this hard work, sweat, blood, and tears that I have put out this season!
Before I let you go — is there any song, album or artist that you’ve been listening to a lot as of late?
Oh, yes! I’ve been playing a lot of “Wait a Minute!” by Willow. I love it! I heard it in a TikTok, which is where I hear most of my music these days, and immediately went to download it. I literally listen to it all throughout the day, when I’m driving, doing my makeup, anything. It just makes me feel good. It’s a feel good song, the vibe is just so right.