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Jinkx Monsoon Talks ‘Doctor Who,’ Broadway and Pride



When you’re good to mama, mama’s good to you.

And life is certainly being good to Jinkx Monsoon. Cementing their place in the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Hall of Fame by winning “All Stars 7,” Monsoon strutted their stuff on Broadway, making herstory as the first drag performer in “Chicago” on the Great White Way. Now, the “internationally tolerated” star has an upcoming tour, and they just landed a part in “Doctor Who.”

Monsoon spoke with Variety over Zoom from London, where they were preparing to film a role in the beloved sci-fi series alongside new Doctor Ncuti Gatwa. Even from across the pond, Monsoon makes it clear that fighting against the wave of anti-trans and anti-drag bills being passed in the U.S. is a top priority.

“I’m feeling very frustrated that our community is being scapegoated,” Monsoon says, calling out the so-called allies who have remained silent. “Why wouldn’t you want to be on the right side of the history?”

Monsoon celebrates Pride month with Variety as she opens up about what’s next — and how she’s just getting started.

What was it like achieving your Broadway dream by playing Mama Morton in “Chicago”?

No one ever tells you how annoying it is when your dreams come true. Because oftentimes, when your dreams come true, that’s when the real work begins. If you’re someone like me, my dream coming true was one of the hardest work endeavors I’ve ever done. It was a marathon as an artist, with eight shows a week for 10 weeks. 78 shows and one day off a week. I never called out sick from any of my shows. My dream came true, and it opened the gateway to one of the most rewarding acting experiences of my life.

My biggest message is to chase your dreams. Don’t give up on your dreams. Follow your dreams with patience and tenacity.

Do you have another Broadway dream role?

My dream role of all dream roles is Mrs. Lovett in “Sweeney Todd.” I’ve also always wanted to play the witch in “Into the Woods. Maybe in five years, I’ll be the right age for Mama Rose!

But first, you’re in the new season of “Doctor Who.” What can you tell us about your experience so far?

I haven’t begun filming yet. I’ve been having lots of meetings, costume fittings and talking with the director and the producer about the script. I’ve always loved “Doctor Who.” It was the one show that my husband and I could agree on. We’re celebrating queer people in the media and that’s possibly what’s riling up the GOP so much. They can’t stand that we are finally getting our room and our position in the world. We’re finally taking up our space and it’s pissing a lot of people off. And I love it.

When did you begin to come to terms with your sexuality and your gender identity? Did you have a moment when you first knew?

I grew up in Portland, Ore., and when I was a youth, there were tons of resources available. I spent a lot of time at [the Sexual & Gender Minority Youth Resource Center]. It had open mic nights and workshops. We had space in the Pride parade, but also, having had the family that I had, they made it clear to me at a very young age, that I could be whoever I was, and they would be fine with it. It doesn’t mean that there weren’t tumultuous moments, but I knew that everyone would be fine once I came out of the closet.

Fans fell in love with your “water off a duck’s back” mantra during your first “Drag Race” season. Is that still your mantra today?

I jump from mantra to mantra. I’ll have different mantras for different things I’m going through. I don’t know that I’ve revisited “water off a duck’s back.” That was very specifically for that experience. I have a mantra that I say when it’s hard to do my makeup. You just have to repeat, “Drag is fierce and fun!” over and over and over. Lately, my mantra has been, “I am water.” I go with the flow because I’m an earth sign so I’m prone to being very stubborn and very set in my ways.

How has your drag evolved from your teen years to your time on “Drag Race,” and how have you grown in confidence about your identity?

They have had to learn how to ebb and flow with each other. The first step is having an open-mindedness and a willingness to evolve.

I have confidence, yes. What gives me that is my connection to my community. I create work I want to put out into the world. The community enjoys it, radiates love back to me, and then I feel confident for the next thing. But you never want to be so confident that you think you have nothing left to learn. It’s a big thing we’re struggling with. So many people are at a point in their lives where we can change for the better. Some of this stubbornness, some is willful ignorance, and some of this is a generational divide.

But if we meet these people with a conversation, compassion, empathy and patience and try to explain what we’re going for? I cannot believe there’s so much going on over the word “woke.” It’s a word that describes being mindful, and they’re treating it like it’s a terrorist organization, just like they did with the word “Antifa.” If they would just calm down and have a willingness to evolve, then we could meet halfway and have a conversation.

We’re seeing a wave of anti-drag and anti-trans sentiments in the U.S. How are you feeling in the face of these attacks — especially given the “allies” who have remained silent?

I’m feeling lots of things. I’m feeling very frustrated that our community is being scapegoated. They’re scapegoating our community. They are using this crusade against the queer community, and that is blatant homophobia. Every justification they give you to try to say it’s not homophobia is a lie. It’s hypocritical. They are being blatantly hypocritical. They are extremely hypocritical in their rhetoric. It frustrates me that I live in a country that boasts freedom and equality for all of its citizens, and that’s never once been true, because women, people of color and queer people have been oppressed since the dawn of America. The system is set up to only favor one type of person, and if you are not that type of person, be damned.

The thing that’s most shocking to me about the silence from people who have previously claimed to be allies is, why wouldn’t you want to be on the right side of the history? The only reason I think that allies are being quiet about it, and what is so insidious about what the GOP is doing, is that kids are involved. They’re using children as a shield, like they’ve done many, many times before. That has always been their tactic. What the GOP is doing is objectively evil.

In layman’s terms, all of our media and entertainment is either about true love or accepting yourself. Isn’t the whole plot of “X-Men” that they want to take what’s special and different away from the mutants? It’s so obvious that the people trying to take away their mutant powers are evil. Why can’t we just look at “X-Men” and say, “This is the same fucking thing right now!” Learn from our goddamn art!

This interview has been edited and condensed.


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