Doctor Who’s Jinkx Monsoon felt ‘pressure’ as a trans person playing a cis Broadway role

Jinkx Monsoon looks to the left and smiles.

RuPaul’s Drag Race champ and Doctor Who star Jinkx Monsoon has discussed the huge “pressure” that comes with being a trans performer taking on cis roles in theatre.

While Jinkx Monsoon may best be known for snatching the Drag Race crown not once, but twice, she’s recently become a mainstay in New York’s theatre scene.

She broke box office records last year when she became the first drag queen to ever take on the role of Matron “Mama” Morton in the Broadway adaptation of Chicago, while she’s currently starring as Audrey in the Off-Broadway revival of Little Shop of Horrors.

Though Audrey has previously been played by Pose star Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, she is a cisgender character and has historically been played by cisgender actresses.

For Jinkx, as a trans-femme drag performer, taking on the roles of cisgender women comes with a very specific “pressure” to succeed.

Jinkx Monsoon poses following her performance in the Off-Broadway production of Little Shop of Horrors.
Doctor Who actor Jinkx Monsoon is starring in the Off-Broadway production of Little Shop of Horrors. (Getty/Valerie Terranova)

Speaking to Modern Family actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson on his Dinner’s On Me podcast, Jinkx explained that she felt she had to succeed in her stage roles to ensure the door is open for other trans and drag performers to do the same.

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“Not to kill the mood of all the praise, but… there’s a lot of pressure when you’re being given that chance [to play the role of a cis women] where you’re like, ‘Oh I hope I don’t f**k this up because will they give another queen or trans person a chance after me, if I f**k this up, or if it’s not a success or people hate it’,” she shared.

After Jinkx was announced as being cast for Chicago, ticket sales increased, and she was acclaimed by critics and fans alike.

“Luckily it wasn’t [a failure] and I have an objective success to refer to,” she continued.

“I went into Little Shop Of Horrors a lot more relaxed and what I’ll say to all of that is: producers need to pay attention to the people who are adamant about, ‘This is what I do. This is what I’ve been put here to do. This is how I want to do it’. And then have already proven it.”

Jinkx, who revealed that she has wanted be an actor since she was a child, made the point that drag performers are already successful at acting and comedy, but have to do more to prove themselves than actors who aren’t drag stars.

Jinkx Monsoon in Doctor Who.
Jinkx Monsoon is being praised for her performance in Doctor Who. (BBC)

“We get on Drag Race, we show you our talents, and then – it’s getting better all the time, because I wouldn’t be where I am right now if it wasn’t getting better – but for a long time, it’s been drag entertainers are in a subsection of the entertainment world.”

She continued: “But we don’t do anything less as an entertainer; in fact we’re used to doing everything.”

Though she may have had to fight harder than non-drag stars to get roles, Jinkx is finally getting her moment in the sun. Later this week (11 May), she’ll star in the second episode of the new season of Ncuti Gatwa’s Doctor Who, as villain Maestro.

Some critics have already seen the episode, and have dubbed Jinkx as the Whoniverse’s best villain since Missy.

In June, Jinkx will reprise her role as Mama Morton in Chicago for a limited run.