OH SO … You wanna know the T on Shangela?!? Ok, well here it is … (and for ya’ll that aren’t drag lingo saavy, “T” means the the info, the bizness, the low-down … you know, the T!)
THE STORY STARTS with a lil’ boy with big personality and even bigger hair. A native of Paris, Texas (yes, that’s the second largest city of Paris in the world!), I grew up as an only child with a single Army vet mom, a hard-working aunt and the most lovable ‘church-every-Sunday’grandparents you can imagine. My grandpa was a pig & cattle farmer ranchhand (yes, my roots are THAT country), but luckily I didn’t follow in the family biz … I mean, Louboutins don’t exactly stomp well through pasture mud. I spent my childhood singing in the church choir, kicking butt in Atari Pole Position and tracing dresses from the bridal section of my granny’s JCPenney catalog.
I WASN’T OPENLY GAY in high school, but trust me, I was GAY. I was the first male cheerleader at my high school since 1968 (back when they called ‘em Yell Leaders), I went to senior prom with my best friend (shout out Miss Sono!), and I used to dress in drag to get A’s on my creative English projects (For my book report on Huck Finn, I re-wrote the lyrics of Proud Mary and performed it to my class as Tina Turner … who was I foolin’? LOL).
THE NEXT YEARS FLEW BY … graduated high school, graduated college (Go Mustangs!), got my first taste of gay clubs, tipped a many drag queen, danced back up for the pageant girls, studied abroad for a year in Madrid, worked for a year on the Hill, fell in love, fell outta love, worked in PR (shout out T.G.I. Friday’s!) … and then I moved to LA to follow my dream of becoming an actor … but after a few small music video roles, I landed back in a cubicle at a PR firm.
ENTER SHANGELA … In early 2009, I choreographed three guys to do ‘Single Ladies’ in drag for a sober charity event at the HERE Lounge in LA. The night before the show, one of the guys backed out and the other two asked me to fill in. I didn’t have makeup, a wig or even tucking panties!…but the Drag Gods (shout out Ron, Brad & Ricky) descended and the show went on! The club’s promoter offered me a booking the next week … and thus, Shangela was created. Five months after performing shows in LA, I was cast on Season 2 of Rupaul’s Drag Race! I quit my job and set off to become the next drag Superstar…but I was sent sashaying away after only the first episode. I was left jobless in the middle of a recession, and unsure about what to do next.
BUT I DIDN’T GIVE UP … I followed my dream, and today I host, perform, and death-drop the house down as a drag entertainer across the U.S. I’m now an active member of AFTRA, and I’ve had guest star roles on the FX series Terriers as well as the ABC drama Detroit 187. In 2010, I stirred some laughter in Downelink.com’s ONE NIGHT STAND UP! on LOGO (shout out Andrea Meyerson!), and later that year performed to a sold-out crowd of more than 1500 in the Drag Queens of Comedy showcase alongside legends Lady Bunny, Jackie Beat and Coco Peru. On the big screen, I recently starred in the short film Body of a Barbie, which aired on BET and was recognized as a Top 7 National Finalist in its ‘Lens on Talent’ series.
AND THE FIERCE GOES ON … In 2010, I won the first ever California Entertainer of the Year Pageant at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood and later that year, I was awarded first-runner up at National EOY pageant in Louisville. (Ur girl has been workin’ her ass off!) I have a great love for the stage, recently appearing in productions of La Cage Aux Faux (Knightsbridge Theatre), The Daddy Machine (Celebration Theatre), and This Is Me Being Free (Theatre Ashe!) … and I hope to one day hit Broadway!
MORAL OF THE STORY, SHANFANS, … You never know where life can take you, but do what feels right and makes you happy. Stay positive through the BS, hold tight to good friends, and always follow your dreams! Now that’s the T … .Love you!!!! – Shangela
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