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.
Coming in hot with a punk rock flair, Daya Betty took the competition by storm — before being sent home on her debut episode. But, in the time since she returned, Betty made it her mission to get to the top, regardless of how anyone else in the competition perceived her. With a challenge win and a number of incredible lip syncs under her belt, Daya Betty is ready to bring the drama to the finale.
Below, Billboard chats with Daya Betty ahead of the finale airing about her tempestuous relationships on the show, why she’d love to see a WWE and Drag Race crossover, and how she feels she’s already earned this season’s crown.
Daya, you’re in the season 14 finale! Congratulations, how are you feeling?
I mean, I pictured myself here! I’m feeling proud of myself, and I know pride is kind of one of those emotions that you shouldn’t share, but this is momentous. This is such a big thing, and the fact that I’ve been able to share my art and have people resonate with it is just so exciting. Plus, I’m excited because this top 5 is literally historic, it’s never happened before. And we’re all so good. Everyone is so talented, we each have our own specific niche, it’s just awesome.
It’s an incredible group, for sure. Now, Daya, I must say, the last time you and I spoke, you had me fooled. I thought you were really, genuinely gone from this competition! You should win an Emmy for your performance!
[Laughs.] I know, because it was so hard having to keep my mouth shut! But you know what? I did! Thank God I wasn’t in Orion’s situation where I had to wait an extra week, because I would’ve broke.
What does it mean to you to be the first queen in the show’s history to be eliminated on your premiere episode, get brought back, and then make it all the way to the finale?
So, yes, that’s very cool. But I’m not going to lie — I went into this putting myself in the finale. I feel like if you go into any competition not expecting to do really well, you’re not going to do well. Then, after my first episode, I was naturally taken aback, and I fully did not know I was coming back until after filming had wrapped. So, when I was told that I was going back in, I re-entered with this new mindset, thinking, “Being selfish is okay sometimes, and if it rubs people the wrong way, that is on them because I am here to do a job.” And you know what? It worked in my favor! A lot of people have something to say about it, yet here I am.
See, I just wanted to say thank you for bringing back the drama. I feel like it’s been such a long time since we’ve had a true dramatic diva like yourself on a season, and it was so much fun to watch you stir that pot.
Of course, Daya Bolical made her move! Here’s the thing — I didn’t want to go into the show self-producing myself. I feel like, in previous seasons, I have watched girls where I was like, “It feels like you’re maybe trying too much.” So, I went in as my authentic self, and that’s what they’re looking for on the show. For better or for worse, I was there and I said what I said, and we made it through. We love the drama sometimes, and if honesty is drama, then so be it.
Which brings us to the fans — obviously, you got a lot of backlash from fans because of your bluntness, but unlike seasons past, you also had a lot of fans backing you up this time. What was that like to navigate in real time?
I remember Ru giving us advice on one of our last days on set — I think it was when we talked to our baby pictures. He said, “If I have any advice, it’s these two things; pay your taxes, and do not read the comments.” So, we took that with a grain of salt, and when the cast dropped, naturally there were a lot of negatives being thrown around, and it becomes pretty hard not to see it. Especially with the pandemic, a lot of our job is now online!
But I think the coolest thing is, for every one negative comment, I also had an influx of positivity and cool fan art, people on podcasts speaking highly of me, just really nice stuff. A lot of the time, the negative comments ended up being way worse than anything I had ever said on the show. So it was like, “Why are you mad when she’s saying things that aren’t half as bad as what you’re saying?” At the end of the day, as long as people were talking about me, positive or negative, I was trending on Twitter every week. [Laughs.] Can’t be mad at it!
The other thing I loved about watching you has been the fact that you’ve broken so many records — making it to the finale after elimination, sending home the girl that sent you home and more. What’s another record that you’d like to break in the future?
Oh, interesting … I wanna say the next record I want is to be the first drag queen to win WWE Smackdown. I’m gonna win that title, baby! Wouldn’t that be iconic? Maybe I could text Jasmine Kennedie and ask her if she’s down, and we could set something up, have our people contact their people and get in the ring together. It would be so good!
No, but honestly, David Bowie has this quote where he said “I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do next, but I promise it won’t be boring.” Or something similar to that … I might have butchered it, I don’t know. But that’s very much what I’m living my life by — you can’t really pre-determine stuff in advance, because you’ll just be setting yourself up for disappointment. So I’m gonna be touring around this summer, but I’m gonna keep it interesting, for sure. I love to shock people, give them that jaw-drop moment.
That’s for sure — I’ve never seen another queen eat a dragonfly on national television, so you have that!
Fully! It’s very Fear Factor, honestly. Let’s get a Fear Factor x Drag Race crossover — I would host that crossover, I’m so down now!
So, Daya, if you were to make the pitch for yourself, why do you feel that you should be crowned the winner of season 14?
Because I think it’s about time that we have somebody who’s unapologetic, and somebody that isn’t afraid to show the dirtier parts of themselves. I’ve said this before in the past, it’s awesome that drag is super mainstream and you see it everywhere, but you really only see the edited, perfected versions of everybody. That’s not what drag is, that’s not where drag comes from. I love the hard work, and the late nights, and the ugly eye bags, and the blood, sweat and tears of it all. I think it’s time we have a queen to represent that, who’s not afraid to get down and dirty.
Last thing I’ll ask — is there a song, album or artist that you’ve been listening to on repeat?
Oh my god, I was just thinking about this because I was making a playlist on my flight! Right now, honestly, I’m super, super into Evanescence! It’s a full 2003 throwback moment. I’m so so into it at the moment, “Bring Me to Life” especially. I wish more people would cling onto this because it’s really great and I want more 2003-era Evanescence in my life.