Despite having become one of pop culture’s most prominent drag queens, Shangela is far from being satisfied with her accomplishments.
The “We’re Here” star has made history in a multitude of ways, including being the first person to walk the Oscars red carpet in drag, as well as the first drag queen to be named to the Time 100 Next Gen list, and while those moments were nice, as Shangela told In The Know’s Gibson Johns during a recent interview, she wants to push even further into the mainstream.
“I walked the carpet at the Oscars, [and] that was lovely,” Shangela, who appeared in “A Star Is Born,” said. “But next time, I want to be nominated for an Oscar.”
The Paris, Texas, native, who also guest-starred on the first season of The CW’s “Katy Keene,” urged herself to “dream bigger” after hearing a particularly inspiring speech given by Tyler Perry at the unveiling of his epic, 330-acre movie studio in Atlanta last fall.
“I remember I was at Tyler Perry’s studio opening in Atlanta in October. In Tyler’s speech, right before the big giant doors opened into this unveiling… he said, ‘The one thing I learned: I was at an Oprah event once when I was first kind of getting my footing, and I got an invitation to an event at Oprah’s. And I was like, ‘Oh, my god, what am I doing here? This is so amazing.’ And I remember she said to me, ‘Tyler, you just need to dream bigger. We have a certain extent to [where] we think our dreams can go, and that’s where we stop,'” Shangela recalled. “And I don’t want to do that to myself.”
In The Know's @gibsonoma interviews D.J. @itsshangela Pierce about co-starring on HBO's "We're Here," supporting the drag community during the pandemic and helping to take drag culture into the mainstream. #WereHere
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For the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alum, Perry’s speech served as a reminder not to limit what she can accomplish, despite any doubts that others may have about her trying to do too much.
“I want to do everything,” she told ITK. “And I remember, one time a guy told me, ‘You know what, I love your work ethic. And it feels like you want to be a jack of every trade and a master of none.’ And I’m like, ‘No, that’s not the thing. I would love to be a master of all the trades,’ you know?”
So, when it comes to her acting career, while appearing as Deveraux for a few episodes was fantastic exposure and an experience in which she was able to provide creative input on her character (she was originally supposed to just be playing herself, until Shangela suggested a name change), she’d ultimately love to create and star in her own series on her own terms.
“I’m so thankful to be guest-starring on ‘Katy Keene,’ but I’m hoping to have a series starring Shangela one day,” she mused. “And, well, what do I need to do? I’m not going to sit here and wait for somebody to bring it to me. What can I do to be involved in the process of making that happen?”
From our interview with Shangela, it became clear that she’s not one to dwell on her past, regardless of how impressive and groundbreaking some of her achievements are. At the risk of not savoring her biggest moments enough, Shangela explained that it’s her work ethic that she learned from those closest to her that pushes her to go even harder with her career.
“I was just saying this to a friend of mine the other day — and this just goes to how my brain is wired and how I work — ‘I can’t wait till one day when I make it, we’re going to go on this vacation, duh, duh, duh.’ And my friend was like, ‘What do you mean, ‘When you make it?’ You made it. You know, you made it!'” she said. “And I’m like, ‘I don’t feel that,’ And I know that all these big moments really do matter.”
“But a lot of times, I’m so on the go. I think it’s the way my brain is wired, because I grew up with all these examples of hard work in my life. My mom worked really hard. She’s a military veteran, and, sometimes when she was back home, would hold down two, three jobs at a time. My grandpa was a farmer, and he was up in the morning before the sun getting stuff done,” Shangela went on. “That’s how I’ve always been. I never got the ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ crown or a golden ticket to go out there, and here’s a team that’s doing it for you. So, I’ve always worked and pushed myself, and I have a great team now that I work with, but all of them will tell you, ‘She sends emails at 4 o’clock in the morning. Somebody put that woman to bed!’ Because I always have this — it’s not a fear. It’s a desire to do [it all].”
“We’re Here” is available to stream on HBO now.
Listen to In The Know’s full interview with Shangela below:
If you enjoyed this article, check out In The Know’s recent interview with “RuPaul’s Drag Race” fan-favorite, Heidi N Closet, here.
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