RuPaul has been a big influence in my life. Like everyone else, I loved "Supermodel," but it was his book Lettin It All Hang Out that really made me love RuPaul! When I had the chance to interview Latrice Royale from Season 4 of RuPaul's Drag Race, I jumped at this opportunity. She's about to release her debut album and one-woman show Here's To Life, about growing up gay in Compton, events leading up to her "unfortunate incarceration," and her infectious, ever-positive perspective at The Laurie Beechman Theatre March 17-20 (which is SOLD OUT) and May 12-15 (407 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue, inside the West Bank Cafe). Click here for tickets!
1. This March and May, you are debuting your first one-woman show, Here's To Life, based on your forthcoming album of the same name, at The Laurie Beechman Theatre. What made now the right time to premiere this show and release the album? I really wanted a way to tell my story more thoroughly, so I’ve been workshopping the show for quite a while now. I’ve always been very honest and open about my life, but people have really only heard the tip of the iceberg. They get the gist, but this is the nitty-gritty of it all.
So, combine wanting to tell my story with an increasing desire to move out of the clubs, and this project was born! I love being at the clubs and seeing my fans there, but everyone needs something different eventually. I don’t JUST do one thing. I do lots of things and I want to share that with the world in a new way. So, why not now?!?! LOL
2. In Here's To Life, you talk about growing up gay in Compton, events leading up to your "unfortunate incarceration," and your infectious, ever-positive perspective that got you through it all. What about your story, are you looking forward to sharing the most with audiences and what are you most nervous to talk about? I’m looking forward to sharing with people the fact that I can sing, but it’s also the part I’m most nervous about. Does that make any sense? LOL. I sang when I was young but hadn’t sung a note in front of people in years when I started working on this show. My single "Weight" was pretty successful, but I didn’t really "sing." And I thought I was putting the music down for a while, but this project just kept gaining momentum. So here I am releasing a jazz album!!! It’s kinda scary because it’s so new, but the response keeps encouraging me and letting me know that I’m doing ok.
3. What did you learn about yourself from your time in prison? What is one thing you changed about yourself after you were released? Well, there’s no ONE thing that I can say I changed or that I learned, because I just came out different altogether, you know? I clearly needed to sit down and think about some things, and I did that. It gave me the opportunity to see how bad things could be and it lit a fire under my ass to make sure I never EVER went back there. So I changed a lot of things, but I think I kept true to who I was through it. And maybe that’s what I learned from it.
4. Where do you think your positive attitude came from to get you through the rough times? Did you ever think you weren't going to make it? My mother. 100%!!! Growing up, she always had such a positive outlook about everything even when we were struggling in the worst of times. She was always a firm believer in God and her faith never wavered. And we got through it. There were LOTS of times—and still are—that I wonder if I’m gonna make it, but here I still am. You have to believe and have faith and you’ll make it happen. I’m a big believer in speaking what you what you want to see.
5. When you think of the phrase "Here's To Life," what are you cheering to now? I’m toasting to all of the trials and tribulations that I’ve been through that have made me into the person I am. And I am celebrating my triumphs in overcoming those obstacles and getting through it all. Here’s to enjoying life and living the dream.
6. After 20 years of performing as a female impersonator, you came to worldwide attention on Season 4 of RuPaul's Drag Race, winning the title of "Miss Congeniality." After performing for so long, what was it like to get all this attention? What did winning this title mean to you? How do you feel your shows have changed since being on RuPaul's Drag Race? The attention was overwhelming at first and still can be. But it’s usually overwhelmingly positive, so that’s great! LOL. It’s just still hard to believe that so many people—and so many different KINDS of people have connected with me and my story. My fans really run the gamut and knowing that they respect me enough to vote me "Miss Congeniality" made me feel like more of a winner than if I had won.
In some ways, my shows haven’t changed. I’m doing what I always did, but with the budget to fully realize my vision. I think I look better than I ever have, which is a result of being forced to look at myself on television. I continue to shape Latrice into my ultimate vision.
7. What was the one thing you learned from RuPaul himself about life in general and performing? RuPaul has been a role model in the sense that he has led by example. He has fallen down, gotten up, looked sickening and is still making us eat it.
And as you know, that is my life’s motto. He has taught me and all the girls that we have to broaden our horizons. There’s more to drag then being up in the clubs and having a party. This is a business to those who choose to make it such and RuPaul has helped us legitimize that.
8. In creating Here's To Life, what was the most difficult part to write and what was the most exciting part to re-live? The hardest part is definitely discussing the moment in prison when I found out that my mother had passed away. We wanted to convey that in a song that I felt needed to be a prayer. And "I Need You Now" really achieves that. I was surprised at how emotional I got in the studio and had to pull myself back from what Oprah calls "the ugly cry" when I sang it live for the first time. It really speaks to how I felt then and people who have heard it so far say that they can hear it in my voice.
And I’m a story-teller. I love reminiscing and sharing about the "old school" and even some of my prison stories have become fun to tell. As emotional as the show is, we really have a great time, too.
9. What is one part of your story that you wanted to share in this show, but didn't? The only thing that I can say I don’t share…is what’s next. I know that this is still preparing me for bigger things and I’m working every day to make that happen. My partner is my accompanist, so we share that with the audience. I really put it all out there!!!
10. On "Call Me Adam," I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent everyday. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent everyday? Well, it’s kind of ironic that you commented on fitness, as I have been (over the last year and a half) working on my own shape! We all know I love my curves and swerves, but my curves got a little out of hand. So now I’m on a healthier way of life and it is still a struggle. But that would be the one percent better every day. If you try to do it all, you’re going to fail. But one percent better. It’s not too much. I like it!!!
Born Timothy Wilcots in Compton, California, Latrice Royale is Large and in Charge, Chunky Yet Funky, Bold and Beautiful! After 20 years in the business of Female Impersonation, primarily in South Florida, Latrice’s unique talent came to the attention of the world on Season Four of RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2012. The sharing of her background in prison, difficult upbringing, and her "Get up, look sickening, and make them eat it" attitude won her the title of "Miss Congeniality" on that season as well as the hearts of fans all over the world. That same year she was invited back to participate as a contestant in RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars and as a Professor in RuPaul’s Drag U. Since that time, she has made appearances all over the world, including a special television appearance with Jennifer Hudson on CBS’s Fashion Rocks and the inauguration of the new MAC store in Sao Paolo, Brazil with the legendary Preta Gil. Her story is further explored in the documentary Gays in Prison by director Christopher Hines, which just aired on LOGO TV.