On this season of RuPaul's Drag Race, Kerri Colby helped usher in a new era of trans excellence, and even after her departure, is seeing the impact of her presence this season.
As some of her own Drag Race sisters reveal their own trans journeys, the path Colby has taken has not been without pitfalls, but is now looking blindingly bright. I sat down to chat with Kerri Colby post-elimination about her Drag Race journey, the Drag Race legend that brought her to the world of drag, and why she is truly, the author of her own book; the one that is called her life.
Michael Cook: So your departure from this season of RuPaul's Drag Race was unexpected, but what a glorious way you helped usher in a new era of trans excellence. How does that feel?
Kerri Colby: It really feels emotional. It feels beautiful. It feels like a dream that I keep pinching myself from, it was such an aspiration of mine to be trans and accepted in a space. To be able to not just find me just in time to be able to showcase it with all of these lovely ladies, but to also just see the power of feminine energy showcase itself in a way that no one could have anticipated. I think it is a testament to letting people know that we are in the building and that we are at the moment.
MC: What does it feel like to not just be able to take up space and not just to be a person in the room, but to be truly celebrated. As the season has gone on, a number of your castmates have come out as trans women, and it is not just being received but is celebrated. It has been a long time coming and It truly does feel correct, wouldn’t you say?
KC: It is almost like the grand finale when you are watching fireworks. You see one, then two, then you are just being bombarded with them, but it is just so beautiful, it is almost like what you have been anticipating. I think we have gotten a lot of feedback from the consumers and the fans about wanting to see more trans representation and I am so glad that Mama Ru and everyone else wanted to make this a moment and not a trend. The numbers don't lie, check the scoreboard, we have some of the highest ratings for some of our episodes.
MC: What about drag made you pivot from simply being a fan of the art to truly having it become your passion and it becoming what you wanted to do with your own life?
KC: Two words, Alyssa Edwards. I am a Texas girl from Dallas and when I first came into contact with seeing Alyssa, that was a very hard year for me, since that is when I was dealing with getting kicked out of my house. I was dealing with homelessness for a little bit and then just getting tossed around trying to find a place to call home. Miracles work in mysterious ways, and when I found a place to be, they were like “Hey have you watched this show 'RuPaul’s Drag Race'”?I had heard of it, but I had not sat down and actually seen it. Once I sat down and started watching it, especially with Alyssa being on it and being from Dallas, it just shot me upside down completely.
MC: That truly shows the power of representation. During her season, Alyssa was making Drag Race herstory and you were watching at home and it was changing your own life in a way as well. Fast forward to you doing the same on your own season. Talk about a full circle moment.
KC: Truly a full-circle moment. I got to have a conversation with her recently and she said “Miss Thing, I live for you and your confessionals, they are just killing me” and in my head I was saying to myself “She has no idea that she is literally the reason that I put lashes on” When I went in thinking about who I wanted to be in my interviews, I was trying to think of someone who I can relate to that was beautiful but authentically themselves, and one hundred percent, that was her.
MC: You were very honest yourself about your family estrangement. What was it like being so honest about your family on the show and have you gotten any response to that since?
KC: I got exactly what I was aiming for. We so many times see the “I’m trans” story and the mom says “Oh honey let me get you some hair” and it is wonderful; I love seeing a very supportive story and I think that is what the narrative should be going on forward. I also am very well aware as a black and mixed-race trans woman, that is unfortunately, very seldom the case. There is a lot of stigma in minority communities. Being able, to be honest, and then receive feedback from so many beautiful angels that have let me know that they have related to gorgeous trans women on television and beauty and something that makes them feel valid, but they have never seen their story.
The part where it is not easy, not accepted, and even to this day God is good and time is real, so we will see what happens in the future... even to this point right now, my parents still are not accepting of me, they didn't watch the show and they aren’t going to, and they don't have much of an opinion on anything that I do right now. It is also about showing that your past is not your present, and your present is not your future. You are the author of the book that you call your life. So you have to live that no matter what the circumstances, and no matter what it is. There are so many negative things that happen out here in the world and you have to be in control of the navigation of what it does to you. I think being to be validated in that openness has been a gift and a treat.
MC: Everyone goes into "RuPaul’s Drag Race” and knowing what many of the challenges are, and truly are able to get out of their comfort zone with skills like acting and impressions. This past week’s 'Snatch Game’ was truly one for the record books. What was your 'Snatch Game’ character going to be?
KC: Oh my goodness, I was going to do Mariah Carey, the Elusive Chanteuse herself. I had her book and everything, I was going to hand it to RuPaul and kiss it (laughs)!
MC: Other than 'Snatch Game' do you feel like you got to stretch your muscles, step out of your comfort zone, and do things that you never have done before?
KC: I did. There were times in past seasons, I would watch the show and think I could never do something, or I would not do the show because I'm not good at acting or I can’t sew for shit. Well I still can’t sew for shit, but I still did pretty decent and wasn't in the bottom for either of those challenges and I made something that looked funky and cute. It was just so fun and I feel that I grew so much in putting myself to the test in the Drag Race game.
MC: One thing that you didn’t sew is the iconic Jennifer Lopez Versace dress you wore on the runway that stopped people cold with its beauty and the way you wore it. What was the secret to obtaining that coveted, authentic, and one-of-a-kind piece?
KC: Oh my god, such a beautiful piece. My house brother August Getty is part of the Getty family. If you know August, he has a beautiful taste for extremely extravagant, pieces and fashions. When we got the list of challenges and we had to get approved for the looks, I submitted for the specific J-Lo look and at first it was taken, then the person who took it thought about it a little bit more and they pulled out. When they did, I let them know that I had access to the authentic piece that she wore for the 2020 runway.</p>
When I got the approval, I went back to August and said “Hey brother, I have a question…(laughs)” This dress is like his baby, no one really wears it, it just stays tucked away on a mannequin in one of his archive showrooms. He said “Well angel, if you can fit it you can take it”. I was like “Challenge accepted”; I had to shimmy, shake, pull and tuck all into that dress. Being able to get into it it was like “Oh my God I get to wear this” and it was just a dream.
MC: So you almost had your own fairy godfather in August Getty.
KC: I did, I definitely did!
MC: What do you want to do with the platform that Drag Race has given you?
KC: I am just going to keep being me. Aside from other people who may have gone on the show to find themselves, I have always known who I was. I was just waiting for an opportunity to show everyone else. When I am given the ability to share my platform and people pay attention and listen, I am just going to go wild with that. I am definitely going to be doing some stuff with fashion and working my way into being more vocal and more hands-on with my words and sharing my story. I just want to see where the ceiling is; I don't believe in ceilings, but I am going to go ahead and test that theory.
MC: What does your drag reveal about you?
KC: My drag reveals about me, who I think I am. I have always said this; I never would have been able to find myself as a woman without Kerri Colby. She started as a vision in my head when I was very little and I would just see a beautiful girl flying around in my mind and I was obsessed “Who is this”?In school, I would always get into trouble because I would just draw the same thing over and over again; skinny waist, long legs, super crazy hair, and beautiful looks. My mother would always say “You’re drawing yourself aren't you”?! and I would just say I was drawing “This person”. To take that vision and put a heartbeat, a face, and a vessel behind it and to give her life, and for her to ultimately lead me to find my truth of being a woman. Identifying as a feminine, goddess, with superpower energy, has been so beautiful. I literally pinch myself every day when I wake up “Is this my life? Oh my God, I love it."
Follow Kerri Colby on Instagram @kerricolby.
Read about the other contestants on the homepage.