Drag Race winner Priyanka is about to become a movie star: ‘This is just the beginning’
She won the inaugural season of Canada’s Drag Race, has hit records under her belt, is a children’s TV presenter and a podcast host, and now Priyanka is about to add another string to her bow.
Sitting in what appears to be her closet, where wigs line the shelves and garments are packed tightly on a rail behind her, she tells PinkNews: “Baby, I’m a movie star.”
It’s All Sunshine and Rainbows is set to be released this week. It’s Priyanka’s first appearance in a film, and she’s got the lead role.
She plays Melonie Sunshine, a down-on-her-luck weatherwoman: her boyfriend has left her for her boss, she’s out of the job she loved and in need of a change of scenery.
Then her aunt dies, presenting – alongside mourning, of course – an opportunity.
Melonie becomes the co-owner of her aunt’s farm and wedding business, which she’ll have to run with current employee, hot himbo Nick Rainbow (Curtis Lovell). Can they work alongside each other without falling madly in love? Take a guess.
“First of all, here’s the true tea,” Priyanka says, with the exact same effervescence that made her an instant fan favourite on Drag Race. “I love a good film. I love Barbie and The Dark Knight and Titanic and Avatar. But I also love White Chicks and Mean Girls. Like cheesy, f*****g bad, bad movies.”
You may like to watch
Priyanka loves Hallmark movies the most. “It’s the same f*****g story over and over again,” she laughs. “I feel like there’s camp in that. You’re telling me that you’re gonna get this f*****g budget and do the same story again? That’s so funny to me.”
It’s All Sunshine and Rainbows has all the classic elements of a Hallmark story: boy meets girl, boy and girl are conveniently forced to spend ample amounts of time together, boy and girl grow predictably closer.
In the case of Priyanka’s film, there’s an element of parody, a wink-wink, nudge-nudge.
Melonie is the regular Hallmark girl-next-door, “but always in drag”. In one scene, we watch her wake up, face already made up, her wig pristine, pearls around her neck. It’s serious acting, but with a touch of “stupid”, as Priyanka puts it.
While seeing a drag performer in a film isn’t exactly revolutionary nowadays, too often their roles are of the “drag performer in bar” ilk. This was the first film script Priyanka had been handed where her role wasn’t that at all. That fact alone was a “huge deal” for her.
“When I got [the role], I was manifesting more acting that year,” she says. “You can release music, you can win Drag Race, but when people see a drag queen or a queer person as an actor, that’s how we let them in.”
The manifesting has obviously worked. Before It’s All Sunshine and Rainbows, Priyanka appeared as a special guest in Netflix’s new queer series Glamorous, alongside Kim Cattrall.
Next year, she reveals, she’ll be starring in a Netflix Christmas movie. She’s also recently been announced as one of the new hosts of the drag reality series We’re Here, alongside fellow Drag Race alumni Sasha Velour, Latrice Royale and Jaida Essence Hall.
To prepare for her roles, Priyanka spent time at Armstrong Acting Studios in Toronto. As a former children’s TV presenter, the switch to a more mature on-screen persona was challenging.
“I was used to giving so much personality and being kooky on camera. They were like: ‘Can you calm the f**k down?’ They wanted everything to be so real,” she says of her acting coaches.
On the set of It’s All Sunshine and Rainbows, she studied her fellow actors closely. “They would say everything so f***ing quietly. Like,” – and here she whispers – “‘You are my father’.”
She might be putting her thespian capabilities to the test, but this isn’t Priyanka entering her Meryl Streep phase; more her Ariana Grande or Lady Gaga era. “You have your movies, but you have your music too,” she says.
In the summer of 2021, Priyanka and fellow drag queen Lemon had gay Twitter in a chokehold with the release of their dance-pop-rap track, “Come Through”. The market for music released by Drag Race stars is a saturated one, but with this single, and her Taste Test EP which followed soon after, she set herself apart from the others.
She’s released four singles since then (one of them country, two of them Christmas songs), and the fan demand for new music hasn’t died down. She’s gearing up to release her debut album next year, a record she says was inspired in part by an identity crisis.
“I wrote over 30 songs for this album, but the more I kept writing, the more I found myself in the music. It’s a very interesting thing to challenge yourself, to ask yourself: ‘Who am I, and why? Why do I do this?’ That sh*t gets you, b***h,” she says.
Existential crisis aside, Priyanka’s new music will delve into her rise from TV host to international queer culture legend. It will leave her fans “shocked”, she promises.
“Music spills the tea,” she says conspiratorially. “When you become more in the public eye and you have fans pitting you against other people, it becomes kind of dark.
“I see why you have to protect yourself as an entertainer because, like, people been talking s**t. I don’t mind them talking s**t, but it’s also just like, wow, you really have no control over the narrative and what people say about you.”
Her new music, therefore, is her way to “course correct” the social media trolls, and “jealous” faux friends. “You have to continue to be your number-one fan,” she says, “because people are f**ked.”
At the beginning of 2020, as Priyanka was waiting for Canada’s Drag Race to air, she had a vision. As soon as viewers watched her walk into that werk room, she knew her life was “going to explode”, she says.
“I feel I’ve taken my life and really repaired a lot of things, and feel the happiest I’ve ever felt. When you’re actually happy, good s**t keeps happening and keeps exploding,” she adds.
“The craziest thing about all of this is that it’s worldwide, it’s global. And it’s just the beginning.”
It’s All Sunshine and Rainbows premieres on Friday (6 October) on Froot.TV.
MyPinkNews members are invited to comment on articles to discuss the content we publish, or debate issues more generally. Please familiarise yourself with our community guidelines to ensure that our community remains a safe and inclusive space for all.