Fox’s live production of Rent (Jan. 27) was a highly-anticipated television event that didn’t quite go as planned, but performances from the show’s star-studded cast featuring Vanessa Hudgens, Keala Settle, and RuPaul’s Drag Race breakout star Valentina more than made up for some of the show’s pitfalls.
Valentina played the role of Angel Dumott Schunard, the show’s iconic HIV-positive drag queen and the love interest of the drummer Tom Collins. As a professional drag queen herself, the Drag Race star’s casting and portrayal of the character couldn’t have been more of a perfect fit.
With a portfolio full of stunning accomplishments, Valentina has certainly made a name for herself since the start of her professional drag career in 2015.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Drag Race and Rent Live! superstar.
Valentina has competed on RuPaul’s Drag Race twice, and performed two iconic Ariana Grande lip syncs during both runs
Valentina made her television debut in 2017 on RuPaul’s Drag Race‘s ninth season. She was well-known for her gorgeous runways, and her very dramatic telenovela personality that quickly made her a fan favorite. She was infamously eliminated in the show’s ninth episode during a lip sync to Ariana Grande’s “Greedy,” in which she initially refused to take off a mask that covered her mouth. Once she did, it was revealed that she didn’t know the words, and was eliminated after the performance. Despite her exit, Valentina won the hearts of fans across the country when they all voted her to be the Miss Congeniality of the season.
In 2018, Valentina returned for another round of Drag Race on the show’s All Stars 4 season. During All Stars, she brought back even more glamour and dramatics, and had the opportunity to not only score a challenge win, but to also redeem herself with a stellar lip sync performance to Grande’s hit track “Into You.” Sadly, as the competition grew tighter, she began to flounder in the main challenges. Valentina was eventually eliminated in the show’s seventh episode, just two days before the premiere of Rent Live!
Before Drag Race, she competed and won an early version of The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula
While RuPaul’s Drag Race celebrates a more mainstream version of drag, The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula by Swanthula and Dracmorda Boulet is another drag competition that showcases a darker and edgier side of drag. Before the show had made its YouTube debut in 2016, the Boulet Brothers’ used to host the competition in nightclubs in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City.
During one of these events, Valentina competed and won the spooky contest in 2015. Valentina’s Dragula win was later acknowledged by the Boulet Brothers when she was announced for season nine of Drag Race. The duo shared a photo of the three of them from 2015 on Instagram with a congratulatory message.
Congratulations to @allaboutvalentina ! Valentina won the club version of Dragula in Los Angeles two years ago, and has continued to claw her way to the top. We hope all your dreams come true and you slay on @rupaulsdragrace darling! (pic from Queen Kong by @jeremylucido ) #bouletbrothers #rupaulsdragrace #wowreport #valentina #queenkong
She’s been performing since the age of eleven
Valentina has had a passion for performing ever since she was eleven years old. During an interview with the LAist, Valentina discussed going to a performing arts school and constantly working around Hollywood for homework. “My education experience was very creative,” she said. “We were free to do whatever as long as we covered what was assigned to us.”
Valentina identifies as nonbinary
In a recent interview with Out Magazine, Valentina came out as nonbinary. “I don’t completely feel like a man, I don’t completely feel like a woman,” Valentina said. “I feel like a goddess. I feel like I’m my own gender.”
In addition, playing the role of Angel on Rent Live! allowed Valentina to bring this aspect of herself into the character. She was also looking forward bringing more nonbinary representation onto television screens across the country. “I do take the responsibility of being a gay nonbinary drag queen person taking on a really important iconic role like Angel and I hope [audiences] tune in for it,” she said.
She has released her own music
Valentina released her debut single “A Prueba de Todo” in December of last year. Instead of going for a typical club beat, Valentina opted for an empowering Latin pop track. She told Billboard that she wanted her fans to feel the message of hope and perseverance in the song. “It really resonates with me and my life right now, and I think it resonates with a lot of my fans and my following — people that have felt underestimated, or pushed down, or pushed out of the way, and can still make it through,” Valentina said.
“And with your hair blowing in the wind, with your head held high — even if the reality, or to other people it is a nightmare, your fantasy is your dream come true.”