She gives you face. She gives you body. She gives you GLAMOUR! She can turn a look and hit a split – her name is Shangela Laquifa Wadley and she is here to stay.
If you are unfamiliar with Shangela, I don’t know what rock you’ve been living under but I am here to show you the light. Originally from a small town in Texas to now on some of the world’s largest stages, Shangela is an entertainer and the most famous queen birthed for the RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise. That’s a bold statement, I know, but as a three-time contestant of Drag Race, to being cast in one of the more popular movies of this award season and nominated for Best Picture, A Star is Born, to performing at the Independent Spirit Awards and gracing the Oscar’s red carpet, Shangela has solidified herself as an iconic queen and it is evidenced by some of her most recent accomplishments. Shangela has also appeared in episodes of The X-Files, Bones, A Mann’s World, Bones, Glee, Dancing Queens, 2 Broke Girls, and more.
It’s even more impressive, and worthy of noting, that Shangela has built her legacy on a platform that is aggressively anti-Black. RuPaul’s Drag Race, for all its done for visibility and celebration of queer identities and the drag artform, is still a pretty anti-Black entity. The evidence is very present and the facts are plentiful, from the racist death threats sent to Jasmine Master’s during her season to the multitude of “niggers” that Monet X Change has been subjected to since her win was announced for All Stars 4. If you recall on All Stars 3, an argument ensued between Milk and Kennedy Davenport when Milk expressed to Kennedy that she would have saved Thorgy Thor over her because she “finds Thorgy’s concepts and her looks much more exciting” although Kennedy was doing much better than Thor throughout the competition and has an impressive and accomplished career has a drag queen. A similar incident took place recently on All Stars 4 when Trinity the Tuck tried and failed to come for Monet about her looks (a claim that Gia Gunn has also expressed on Twitter, but Gia is hater who has not turned nary a look nor won a single competition in her two season on Drag Race), despite Monet turning some of the best looks each week. Even the winner of season 8, Bob The Drag Queen, commented on the show and fandom’s implicit racism:
The discussion of race and racism on Drag Race and within the Drag Race fandom reached its height when the unapologetic queen, The Vixen, tackled racism as the aggressively it’s dished out. Stemming from an altercation with the covertly racist Eureka O’Hara, The Vixen, although attempted to be silenced, exposed the racist nature of the Drag Race platform.
Seeing a Black queen like Shangela slay Drag Race, while still being her unabashed Black queer self, with the odds stacked against her, speaks to her resilient character, captivating personality, undeniable talent. To then use the acclaim from that platform, one that is not always supportive on Black queens, and take drag to new heights, and as humbly as she’s done it, is commendable and worthy of the recognition. We are witnessing Shangela build an incontestable legacy, and probably, inadvertently, paving the way for more drag queens, especially Black ones, to mainstream their drag if they so choose. I, personally, predict Monet X Change to follow in her footsteps.
So, in the spirit of NeNe Leakes, I said what I said and I ain’t changing on it. Shangela is the most poppin queen from the Drag Race franchise and she is what? Sickening.