‘Drag Race’ and ‘Rent: Live’ Star Valentina’s French Vanilla Fantasy Isn’t Over Yet
As she sashayed off the runway following her All Stars 4 elimination last week, Valentina knew she was officially a contender. Memories of “I’d like to keep it on, please” no longer defined her time on the hit reality TV show.
The Valentina of All Stars 4 was fashion-forward and wacky while remaining driven and keeping her eye on the prize, perhaps most notably during her now-legendary lip sync against Monét X Change.
And while Valentina came up short in in snatching the All Stars crown, her career and personal life have evolved. Hornet caught up with Valentina post-elimination to discuss coming back for another season in the Werk Room, the once-in-a-lifetime experience of portraying Angel in last night’s Rent: Live and on whom she’d place her bet for grabbing this year’s All Stars crown.
Here is Hornet’s post-elimination interview with Valentina:
On All Stars 4 we saw your journey come full-circle, in particular with that scorching Ariana Grande lip sync. Do you think you got the Ru-demption you wanted?
I do think that I got that Ru-demption. I think everything played out way it needed to, and I’m so lucky and privileged to say that I had such an amazing experience during my run on All Stars. I hope people enjoyed my crazy, silly, fantasy self!
When you stepped into the Werk Room initially, who were you surprised not to see walk in?
I thought Mariah Balenciaga would definitely be there, but she wasn’t. I was definitely surprised by that.
What did you want to prove on this season of All Stars more than anything else?
That I know the words! [Laughs] I wanted to show that I am a silly, goofy person, in spite of having an accomplished and competitive mindset. That I live life to the fullest and I really love drag, I really do. That I’m not just Miss Perfect all the time. I wanted to prove that I’m a complex character.
Does it help you to be in your own “French Vanilla Fantasy” world in order to put your best foot forward?
Being in my own world and doing my own thing is always a part of my everyday life. It’s not even just for the runway; it’s for life. Feeling your fantasy and getting ready for the day, or for the club, or for work, whatever it is. Having that moment to gather yourself, feel confident and present it when you are out in the world, that is your armor and what builds you up and helps you go out and enjoy your fantasy so other people can enjoy it also.
You’re such a fashion girl, and high fashion clearly has a huge influence on your drag. Who are you loving right now fashion-wise?
I’m really loving Ralph & Russo; they recently did a collection based on my muse, Mexican film actor María Félix. The Valentino couture show also had beautiful gowns and beautiful prints. I especially love a red Valentino gown!
We were all so excited to see your portrayal of Angel on last night’s Rent: Live.
Thank you! I’m so thrilled and excited for people to see it. Especially those who don’t know the story or the music or the character of Angel, especially the youth who don’t know the story of Rent at all or the AIDS epidemic of that time. It is a beautiful story, and Angel is an iconic character; he is the heart and the soul of Rent. I am diving in face-first to this one.
The story of Rent is of a different generation, but it’s an important story to tell. What made you want to be a part of it?
My character, Angel, is such a caring and giving person. What really made me want to be a part of it was the challenge that it puts on me — artistically, vocally, even spiritually. Angel is so selfless and so giving and so hardworking at the same time. it inspires me to be a better person. It goes beyond the attention of performing; it really moves me to be a part of this. It is probably going to be the biggest challenge I have ever taken on in my life.
Back to All Stars, who do you think will snatch the crown? There are only a handful of girls left.
I know! I’m really rooting for them all. Trinity is one of my closest drag friends, but I’m really rooting for all of the girls. I’m really excited to keep watching, especially the next episode, to see who I think could really go to the end and who deserves it.
What do you have coming up for Valentina? With two seasons of Drag Race and now Rent: Live under your belt, do you want to stay in television or have you thought about spreading your wings?
I definitely want to stay in television. The lights, the cameras, I’m hopeful for a very bright future. I’m so grateful to RuPaul’s Drag Race for having given me the platform to continue in things like Rent: Live and for some other things that are happening in the future that I can’t announce just quite yet. I’m really hoping that my devoted fans continue to follow and support me throughout my endeavors in the industry.
The 50th anniversary of Pride is this year. What gives you pride on a daily basis and inspires you to keep creating?
What gives me pride is the fact that I give a voice to those lonely souls out there who identify as gender-nonbinary, and that I get to give them a voice. That I get to give them that epiphany that they exist and that they matter. As someone who is nonbinary, I did not know what that was for so long, and I felt so different, even around gay people. I felt so alienated and like I almost didn’t even belong in this world.
It gives me pride to know that so many of us are out there and exist. Through my portrayal of Angel, I was able to express that publicly, because I had been asked how I would be playing the role and how much of me was actually in the role. It gives me pride to be able to come out as gender-nonbinary.