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Drag Race star A’Whora describes challenges of filming during pandemic

A’Whora (BBC/World of Wonder/Ray Burmiston)
A’Whora (BBC/World of Wonder/Ray Burmiston)

One of the stars of the new series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK has described the challenges of filming the show during the pandemic, but said it also allowed the queens to be “the best version of ourselves”.

A’Whora is one of 12 new drag queens taking part in the second outing of the BBC Three show, which sees drag queens from all over the country compete in a series of challenges.

The 23-year-old fashion designer, who created outfits for queen Gothy Kendoll in the first series, had been doing drag for less than two years before she was cast on the show.

She told the PA news agency: “It’s always something I’ve watched but never saw it for myself.

“I was always a drag fan but never saw myself being there – it’s like watching a Star Wars film, no-one expects to be in a Star Wars.

“It was definitely intimidating to go in there knowing the fact I hadn’t done it for a long time … so I thought I need to up everything I can do and just push myself.

“I definitely felt like the weakest link but I don’t think I was in the competition as that, for sure.

“I know every in and out of fashion possible so I went in there and I was like I want to show as much range as possible, every look I want to be completely different, I want to showcase different techniques.

“I use things such as 3D printing during the show, different ways fabric can be manipulated and fabric can be sculpted. I tried to really showcase as many different fashion techniques and abilities, to show what I can do through the use of clothing.”

She said the restrictions of the Covid guidelines added an extra challenge while filming, adding: “Everything was done very correctly. Before even starting the filming we were tested and then, when we were picked up and arrived at the hotel, we were kept in our own rooms, no mixing, and we were again tested, and then after that if you were clear you could start the filming.

“Every day you walk in, sanitise your hands, temperature checked, we were very well trained in how to adapt to it and everywhere you travel you’re wearing a mask.”

She continued: “We all had these hand-held big screen masks that we could use that wouldn’t damage our make-up but would still protect us so they really did everything to work best for us, we never came into contact with the crew, we never came into contact with the celeb guest judges or the panel, it was always maintained.

“We had a Covid rep who was in every room to make sure it was monitored or getting too close,  but it was difficult because we’ve gone from being able to snog each other’s face off to then not even being able to finger-poke each other.

“I think the difficult thing was if you’re upset or you’re having a hard time or you miss home, you can’t hug anyone, or you’ve had a bad critique, you can’t have a hug off your friend. I think they were times that were hardest but it wasn’t stress, it just felt more lonely.

“But at the end of the day you’re in a competition, you’re there for yourself, you’re not there for anybody else. It kept us all in our own lane.”

She added: “I think we all have that moment during the pandemic, to stop for a minute and go ‘What do I like about myself, what do I not like about myself, how can I better myself, how can I better my life or my job?

“We all have that pinnacle moment during the pandemic, and I think to see that on TV, these queens then come back as different people in and out of drag, and how they have adapted themselves to be better people and be the better version of themselves from what the judges have said, and then try and compete during this difficult time and still get through it, I think it’s a really powerful message.

“It shows what something that has been so negative on everyone’s lives can also impact people to create such a positive.

“The pandemic has really allowed all of us to re-sculpt ourselves and become the best version of ourselves.”

– The second series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK launches at 7pm on BBC iPlayer on January 14.

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