Canada’s Drag Race star Ilona Verley ‘told not to discuss trans identity’ by producers

Drag artist Ilona Verley appears in an introduction interview for Canada's Drag Race

Canada’s Drag Race star Ilona Verley has slammed the show’s producers, claiming she was told not to discuss her trans identity on the series.

The Indigenous queen appeared on season one of the Canadian Drag Race spin-off and came in sixth on the series. Ilona opened up in a searing series of tweets on Friday (3 September) about their experience on the show and the aftermath of appearing on such a high-profile drag competition.

“I sacrificed everything for a TV show I thought was gonna change my life,” Ilona wrote.

“I invested into a franchise I thought was going to foster my talent and include me in their ‘family’, however with the timing of my season I got very little opportunity and ended up a discarded asset.”

She added: “I received none of the things promised to me when giving up my life for the franchise and had to deal with being limited in being able to provide for myself as my industry as a night life entertainer was shut down due to the pandemic and I had to represent the morals of a ‘brand’.”

Ilona claimed they weren’t able to work on OnlyFans and make money from sex work because of their contact with Canada’s Drag Race. So she said she was left with “no way to make money” while feeling the pressure from the “entire world” to serve “elevated looks”.

“I felt like I couldn’t go get a day job because I would look like a failure,” Ilona added. “I never wanted to be a ‘failed reality TV star’, but the pandemic and not being able to work in my field made it so hard mentally to just survive and figure out what to do to stay a float.”

Ilona shared they have had a “decent life” and have “gotten great opportunities since the show”. The drag artist said the past year has been the best and worst “year of my life”.

She thanked her fans, saying she was “so happy we were brought together” because of Canada’s Drag Race. However, Ilona said the “network” that went “out of their way to harm” her wellbeing will “have atoning to do”.

Shortly after their first series of posts on Twitter, Ilona accused Canada’s Drag Race producers of instructing them not to talk about their trans identity on the show.

“Oh ya they also instructed me not to discuss my trans identity on the show and even after they instructed me not to discuss the trans agenda because they were saving that story line for the American franchise,” Ilona wrote.

At the end of the day, Ilona said she was glad to be “my queer 2 spirit Indigenous self” on TV, which she said was a “win for me”.

“That alone made all this s**t bearable,” Ilona wrote.

Drag Race has featured several trans and non-binary stars

The most recent series of the US franchise featured Gottmik, the first trans man to participate in the competition. Just this week, Kylie Sonique Love became the first trans woman to win a US season after clinching the crown in All Stars season six.

Drag artists Ginny Lemon and Bimini Bon Boulash had an open, heartfelt conversation about being non-binary in the Drag Race UK werk room earlier this year.

PinkNews has contacted Canada’s Drag Race for comment.