As the inaugural winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Season 1, The Vivienne proved herself to be a brilliant performer, a stunning celebrity impersonator, and a complete force of nature.
While she could have stayed across the pond to rest on her laurels, the fans were thrilled to see this legendary performer join her crowned sisters on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 7, the first season to showcase all winners. As All Stars 7 came to a stunning close, I sat down with The Vivienne to chat about her decision to join the All Stars 7 cast, what made her fall in love with performing, and The Vivienne went deep with me on imposter syndrome, how it is truly real, and how she deals with it.
Michael Cook: As the only non-United States winner on this season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 7, what was it like to be part of this stellar cast?
The Vivienne: Oh it was insane! After winning the show you never think you’ll get to go back and do an All Stars season. You see your sisters go back to do All Stars and you think it’s never going to happen. I was lying in bed one night, the phone rang, and it was a producer. You know when they call I am going to be on the phone for at least an hour, so I thought I would just call him back tomorrow. My husband said, “I bet that is about the all-winners season”. I picked up the phone and it all happened in about three seconds, and I had agreed to it. To also know that I was going to the only international one with the girls was quite mind-blowing, daunting and scary too!
MC: As the sole UK representation on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 7, was it daunting to be going up against the other girls, some of which you may or may not have known?
: I knew Trinity (The Tuck) she’s my family. I knew Monét (X Change), we had done some filming together. I met Jinkx (Monsoon) years ago briefly, but we had never gotten to work together so that was exciting. Raja, I had done Fashion Photo Ruview with her, but we had never worked together or met in real life. Jaida (Essence Hall) I couldn’t wait to meet, all of them are all great. We met and immediately clicked really quickly.
MC: On this season of All Stars, you all got to truly stretch muscles in terms of runways as well as acting and comedic talents. What is it like stepping out of your comfort zone and doing things that you may not have done in the past or that you may have been hesitant about?
V: The thing is, I always knew that I could. You never get to stretch those muscles as often as you’d like. I’ve always been an actor, I’ve always loved comedy. With drag, it is very easy to fall into a rut. My main thing to get booked for is that I will go on stage for an hour, tell some dirty jokes, sing a couple of songs, and have an absolute blast. I act on tv in England, so when it comes to acting, comedy and roasting those are the things that I enjoy, but not everyone knows that I do it. To be able to show little nuggets of that throughout the season is great. You can use it as a little showreel to show what you do & hope that you like it.
MC: When you saw that the twist of the season was going to be a point system and the ability to block your competitors, what did you think?
V: You know, it was such a hard thing because there are two sides to the plunger. There is being blocked because you could win a challenge and not win a star, like I did. Or, you could block someone and not have a clue what the challenge is. There is no strategy to the plunger and you can just hope for the best. There is no strategy to it and it just comes down to who has the nicest gowns-which begs the question, why did I block Jinkx (laughs)!?
MC: Who are some of your earliest inspirations that helped craft who The Vivienne has become?
: Oh too many people. Lily Savage, Pete Burns, Cher, all these people. I remember I used to watch Channel 4 and it was a school night around 11 p.m. Pete Burns turned up and had just released “You Spin Me Round” with Dead Or Alive. I said, “What is this creature on the screen”? I am obsessed with it, I don’t know what it is ... I fell in love with Pete Burns, I fell in love with anyone weird. I didn’t know what queer was back then, I didn’t know they were gay, I didn’t know what these terms were. It was just a fabulous creature adorned in these gorgeous things and I said “that’s what I want to do.” Just fabulous people that were way ahead of their time.
MC: Your fanbase has definitely expanded since All Stars 7. What do you think you want to do now that you have been exposed to a whole new audience?
V: I want to do some more acting. I was so honored to do three scenes in the BBC’s biggest watched drama. When I watched that back, it was like “oh my God, you’re doing it.” I have this huge imposter syndrome; I’ve been asked to come in and read and I’m going “am I that kind of actor”? It’s like, snap out of it. These people have asked you to come in and do it for a reason, you fake it til you make it. I think drag queens are masters are faking until you making it and it’s proving that it’s working (laughs).
MC: Without a doubt, imposter syndrome is a real thing. It’s great that you speak openly about it, and I wish more people would.
V: Oh definitely. It’s not a bad thing, because I think sometimes it keeps you grounded. I think if you believe it too much you can get a bit big-headed, and I like to keep my feet planted firmly on the ground.
MC: When you accept your inevitable BAFTA Award, who do you thank?
V: Oh everyone. My husband, my family, World of Wonder for giving me such a great opportunity. Everyone around me. And Cher (laughs)!
Follow The Vivienne on Instagram @thevivienne.
Read about the other contestants on the homepage.