We’re only five episodes in, but season 14 of RuPaul’s Drag Race has already delivered its most shocking moment.
In the season’s most recent episode, which aired on Friday (Feb. 4), the queens were split into teams to create spoof charity commercials, encouraging viewers to give money to some of the show’s first-eliminated queens. After a lot of Sarah McLachlan impressions, Bosco earned her first win of the season for her campy acting and precise directing, while queens Orion Story and Jorgeous battled it out in the bottom to Ava Max‘s “My Head & My Heart.” In the end, Orion’s story was brought to an end for a second time this season.
But before any of this took place, viewers were shocked to learn that fan-favorite queen Kornbread “The Snack” Jeté, who had already won a challenge, would no longer be competing on season 14 due to an ankle injury on set. Below, Billboard chats with Kornbread about her injury, transitioning while on Drag Race, and why she and one other queen became such close friends on set.
So, despite the way it ended, how are you feeling looking back on your time on Drag Race?
Other than my ankle, I wouldn’t change anything. I had the time of my life, I am pleased with everything that took place on the show, the good, the bad and the ugly. Four hundred percent enjoyed myself fully.
Now, Eureka O’Hara is going to wake up screaming somewhere because she’s no longer the only one to suffer an injury on the show. Walk us through what exactly happened with your ankle.
So, I twisted my ankle during the Super Tease challenge — I fully kept it to myself and did not say anything, I continued to do the challenge throughout the day. I didn’t wanna look weak or be wounded in front of anybody. I didn’t wanna be like, “Oh, Kornbread’s hurt, this is gonna be another thing to put a damper on the group or hinder them from moving on. Fight through it.” I fully wasn’t listening to my body, kept doing all of the physical stuff throughout the day. When I finally had a moment to sit and reflect, I was like, “Wow, I might have legit hurt myself, and me running around is not helping.” So then we filmed the runway, I got critiques and everything, and so I was walking and standing in these heels, which was definitely not helping myself at all. Once I got out of drag for the day, my ankle just completely swelled up, and I was like, “Yeah, that needs to get checked.” The other girls were like, “Yes, get that taken care of, at least see what’s wrong.” Then, the doctor told me it was pretty bad, and that I needed to be off my ankle for 6-8 weeks.
That cannot be a fun thing to hear when you’re in the middle of a competition.
Hell no, especially when I was doing good! Baby, you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t winning season 14, I didn’t care what nobody said, honey! [laughs] That was my $100,000 check, that was my crown and my scepter, I already emailed the people telling them they needed to get it in a larger size, ’cause I got a big head! But then here we go, my ankle stepped in and said, “No.”
Based on the fan reaction to you online, I don’t think you could have told the fans otherwise, either. They were eating you up.
Oh, I was the first plus-size winner of a main season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, this was mine! But that’s how my mindset was walking into the show, and I think that’s what people responded to. Like, I said, “Y’all gonna eat this up, you don’t got no other choice.” But I said I was gonna act like myself, and I was gonna do what I had to do in the competition, and then this took place. You know how they say your life flashes before your eyes right before you die? This was very much that, for me — my couple of episodes flashed before my face and I was like, “Crap. I had so much I wanted to do and I spent so much money on this s–t that I won’t be able to show!”
Now, they didn’t officially say this on the episode, so I wanted to ask — have you been given an open invitation back like Eureka was back in season 9?
Ain’t nobody call me yet. If you could send a message to somebody over there, tell them to ring my phone. I’m waiting, they on speed dial, I got it on Do Not Disturb for everybody but them. [laughs] I would be elated to go back, but they ain’t said anything to me yet. But I’m hoping they let me back! It’s actually the 11th commandment — “thou shalt bring Kornbread’s ass back to the people’s TV.”
What’s your experience been like having fans so quickly fall in love with you on the show? Was that ever something you were concerned about while filming?
I have never cared one bit how people perceive me. You either gonna like me or you’re gonna hate me, and both of them bring attention to my social media, which makes the people giving me endorsements say, “Wow, there’s a lot of people on your page.” So, you’re collecting the check. It didn’t make no difference to me, I was just going there like, “I am going to give the best me possible, there’s no way those judges don’t see me hungry for the crown.” I walked into Drag Race refusing to compete with anybody but myself. I mean, I didn’t give ’em no reason to dislike me, other than the fact that I’m on the show and you not! [laughs] To me, that’s actually what it should be for every single one of the people on this show; either you like them, or you’re wrong. These people are opening themselves up and being vulnerable on camera in front of everyone and sharing their stories, there is no reason for you not to like everybody.
I know you’ve talked before about how you were mid-transition while filming Drag Race, and part of the reason why you didn’t talk about it that much on the show was because you were still in the process of coming out as trans — do you think being on Drag Race helped your transition process at all?
Oh, very much! I was so open and seen on the show, from the contestants as well as the judges and them allowing me to just be myself, that when I left there, I was like, “If they can all accept me for what I am, and the rest of y’all can’t, then that’s on y’all.” I became the most open human being on the planet after filming. Before going onto the show, I was very much still wearing my hoodies and my t-shirts, and hiding everything. Now, it’s titties out at the airport, cleavage out so the TSA don’t know where to look! You’re gonna see it now! But yes, I think the show definitely opened up the door to help me get through my transition with the support of everyone there.
That’s fabulous. I think a lot of fans were really touched especially by the support and friendship that grew between you and Willow Pill on the show — what was it about her that immediately made you want to become her friend?
‘Cause she’s weird as hell. That child is crazy in the best way. She’s weird, she says stuff, and you have to look at her 16 times to make sure she said exactly what she said, and she just looks at you sideways. Her mouth is just like mine — she says exactly what comes to her cranium. That’s what drew us together, we are so opposite yet exactly the same person. Like, that b—h is obsessed with Luther Vandross! Like, what? How does that make sense? [laughs]. She is insane.
I just keep getting flashbacks to that Enya talent show lip-sync she did, it was so unhinged.
I don’t eat spaghetti anymore because of Willow, and because of that performance.
Well, before we let you go, I wanted to ask if there’s any music right now that’s really been giving you inspiration for your drag?
Oh, I listen to so much music, honestly – I’ll go from Barbra Streisand to Celine Dion to Amber Riley, my range is intense. There’s not even a full album I listen to, it’s just a wild shuffle of music. But I’ll tell you this; one person I could listen to all day, that I listen to on the airplane every time I fly, is Hozier. Hozier has some of the best music I have ever heard in my life. That’s my go-to. He’s insane and incredible. I messaged him a couple times and asked him to take me on a date. He hasn’t responded, but we’ll figure it out. I got the blue check mark now, though, so it might work! [laughs].