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Canada’s Drag Race Premieres During an Important Time

Brooke Lynn Hytes and Hollywood Jade weigh in on the significance of the inaugural season By Emily Latimer
  • Hytes, Bowyer-Chapman and McKenzie / Photo by Matt Barnes, courtesy of Crave

Tonight, the inaugural season of Canada’s Drag Race premieres during an important time in history: Just after Pride month, during a global pandemic and amid calls for justice and more representation of marginalized voices from the Black Lives Matter movement.

In the reality television competition, twelve drag queens will sing, dance, act and lip-synch for a chance to snatch the crown and the $100,000 grand prize. This is the fourth international adaptation of the popular Emmy-award-winning RuPaul’s Drag Race, following Drag Race Thailand, Chile’s The Switch Drag Race and RuPaul’s Drag Race UK.

Brooke Lynn Hytes, one of the resident judges, said the show is going to be career-changing for Canadian drag queens. Hytes is the Season 11 runner-up of the original RuPaul’s Drag Race as well as the first Canadian to compete on the American show – she left Canada and moved to the United States because there was more opportunity for queens, including getting on television and in film.

“This show coming to Canada is going to really change the scene forever because it’s giving all of these drag queens something to dream about, something to aspire towards,” she said. “That’s really what this show does. It changes your life and catapults you into another stratosphere.”

In addition to creating a positive impact on the drag community, the show will also present a diverse cast in a time when representation and inclusion is a pressing social issue.

“I cannot wait for all the little kids around the world to look on their TV screens and see these amazing people that look like them and that sound like them and just be able to see that they’re ok,” Hytes said.

In a promo for the show, Priyanka, a queen from Toronto says, “The reason why I picked my name, Priyanka, is because I wanted Queer POCs to have someone in the community that’s really repping their culture.” The cast also includes Ilona Verley, a Two-spirit Indigenous artist from Vancouver who identifies as non-binary.

The judging panel is also representative of Canada’s diverse makeup; Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, actor and activist, and Stacey McKenzie, fashion model and America’s Next Top Model mentor, are Jamaican-Canadian. Traci Melchor, eTalk senior correspondent, will jump in on hosting duties.

Toronto-based dance artist Hollywood Jade was the resident choreographer for the show, a role he clinched after building a reputation working with local drag queens, dancers and artists.

“The world is getting a chance to see Canada in a way that I don’t think it has in a long time, or ever for that matter. We get to show the diversity of what Canada looks like,” Jade said. “It’s just such a wide representation of culture and diversity and differences and all wrapped in an art form that is drag.”

Canada’s Drag Race premieres tonight at 9pm EST on Crave. 

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