Drag Race UK’s Veronica Green’s ‘world crashed around’ her during lockdown: ‘I didn’t leave my bedroom for three months’
Drag Race UK said goodbye to two queens this week, with Veronica Green forced to depart the competition after testing positive for coronavirus.
Despite a blip in the “Morning Glory” breakfast TV challenge, it seemed the Rochdale-born queen was on track to make it far in the competition – until the pandemic forced production to shut down for seven months.
As the “Queens on Lockdown” Drag Race UK special showed, the pandemic hit drag hard, closing venues up and down the country, and effectively making the job of drag queen obsolete.
It was something that Veronica Green, an entertainer for 15 years, struggled with, sending her into a depression and unable to leave her bedroom for 12 weeks.
Eventually Veronica’s mental health improved with the support of her fiancé, but in a crushing twist of fate, she was unable to return to Drag Race UK, having tested positive for COVID-19 two days before filming resumed, as she told PinkNews.
Veronica Green! How are you doing?
I’m good. I’m a mess at the moment after last night’s episode, I don’t know which way is up! [Laughs]
How was it watching that back?
I had my hands over my eyes at first, I was like, “Oh, I don’t know if I want to see this.” But it went by so fast. It was not as bad and as emotional as I thought it was gonna be. I think I’d already prepared myself for it.
I suppose that was back in November that it all went down, so you’ve been sitting on it for a while.
I found out I couldn’t return to the competition two days before filming started again. So I spent a few days crying and getting my feelings out, being in my emotions, and then I found a way to move forward with it. I kind of made my peace with it through December.
In the “Queens on Lockdown” Drag Race UK special you shared that you went through a real depression in the filming break, are you comfortable speaking a bit more about that?
Of course. I didn’t even realise that’s what it was until I came out the other end of it, just because I shut myself off from the world.
I came back to the world having had such an amazing time on Drag Race UK and then that, all of a sudden, was in limbo, and I just came back to a completely new world. All my work was gone – as well as doing drag, I’m a singing waiter, and I do other singing jobs. I perform for a living, and there was nothing, absolutely nothing.
Just sinking into that feeling of your world crashing around you – there’s nothing, there’s nowhere you can go, nothing you can do. When I didn’t have performing work, I would go work in retail or I would go work in front of house at theatres, but all the theatres were closed. My life was taken away from me, everything that I’d worked for for so long, and I was in such a state of shock. I didn’t even want to leave my bedroom. It was 12 weeks that I was in my bedroom, not leaving except to go to the toilet or the kitchen for three months – there’s something seriously wrong with that and I couldn’t see it. I went through that three months not thinking there was anything wrong.
A lot of people will relate, I think, because as you say, entire industries just disappeared overnight and took people’s livelihoods with them.
Everything’s crumbled and there’s been no support. I felt alone and I felt very lonely – partly my own fault because I did shut out family and friends and started ignoring phone calls and things like that. But in terms of the industries, it just felt like we’re never getting live entertainment back. It’s never coming back. And that was just something that I couldn’t shake.
How do you feel about that now? A lot of people still feel the government aren’t doing enough to help.
It goes back to that age old thing – when when you’re in school, and you say, ‘I want to be an actor,’ and the teacher says, ‘What about a real job, though?’ That’s exactly what it is. Society does not see entertainers as people who are doing real jobs. They don’t understand how much they themselves enjoy entertainment to keep them happy, and it’s a cycle of people not understanding and realising how important creativity, arts and entertainment are to everybody’s wellbeing. And it’s not just the people that are performing on the stage, you’ve got all of the the backstage crew, the set designers, props people, wig people. So many careers have started to collapse.
There was that joke a few months ago, ‘Why don’t you retrain in cyber?’, but it takes time to learn new skills. And I spent 15 years honing the skills for this industry. We can’t move into another industry overnight. And so a lot of people are still feeling left out at sea, basically.
But at the end of the day, we’ve got to also recognise that with a pandemic of this nature – a very infectious and very highly contagious virus – steps do need to be taken. Ultimately, we’ve got to get through that and it’s important not to lose sight of that.
How’s it been for you this lockdown? Obviously you’ve had the Drag Race UK exposure, has that changed things for you?
Yeah, things are things are a little bit different. I don’t want to speak for anybody else in the cast, but from my point of view, it’s tough, because although the exposure’s great, I’m struggling to earn from it. There are opportunities for me, so I’m not going to complain, I’m managing to pay my rent every month – just about – but the nature of the world at the moment is that opportunities are slim and scarce. And I’m very thankful that I do have a platform. Because there are so many other people that are trying and trying and trying and not being seen or heard.
I think we watch Drag Race sometimes and lose track of the fact that these are real people competing, and these two episodes bring that perspective back.
That’s what I really love about this season of Drag Race and why I think it’s going to be one of the best, if not the best, seasons ever, because we’re bringing reality back to reality television. We’re getting to see that it’s not just about the drama. I love the drama, I love being taken along for the ride – but it’s also good to see the real side.
A lot of people would agree, there are a lot of people saying this is shaping up to be the best season in a long time.
I think it’s because this the casting is spot on. The 12 of us, we gel so well, even through disagreements and arguments. And I think everybody went into it with their own idea of what they wanted to achieve in the competition. Some people went there to take it seriously, some people went there to have fun, some people went there to break the rules and turn everything on its head. And I think we all respected each other for that – we were all making television, but we were all allowing each each of us to have our own journey as well.
RuPaul said you’ve got an open invitation for next season, will you be taking her up on that?
Well, I’ve got a couple more days to decide. I’m leaving them on tenterhooks – I’m milking it for all it’s worth!
Drag Race UK season two, including the “Queens on Lockdown” special, is available on BBC iPlayer, with new episodes released Thursdays at 7pm.
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