‘Canada’s Drag Race’ an ‘educational experience’ at important time, say judges

‘Canada’s Drag Race’ an ‘educational experience’ at important time, say judges

‘Canada’s Drag Race’ an ‘educational experience’ at important time, say judges

TORONTO — When “Canada’s Drag Race” starts its engines Thursday on Crave, it will be just as glittery and entertaining as the American version, say the judges.

But with the camp and ”condragulations” comes an added level of resonance, as the series arrives just after Pride month and Canada Day, and amid the Black Lives Matter movement’s urgent calls for justice and more representation of marginalized voices, they add.

With that, Brooke Lynn Hytes, Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, and Stacey McKenzie hope the series serves as an important “educational experience” that isn’t taken for granted.

“It’s entertaining, but it tells the stories of queer people and of drag artists in a way that humanizes us,” Bowyer-Chapman, an actor and activist, said in a phone interview.

“It peels back the layers of otherness or misconceptions that the general population — the status quo, heteronormative audiences — may place upon us. They may see us as this other thing, they may see drag queens as these beasts, these monsters. They may see Black, queer people as these very threatening femme queens, or whatever stories they tell themselves.

“And I think that through the beauty of this show and showcasing the artistry of drag, and getting to know who these individuals are on a deeply personal level through their interactions and experiences and them sharing their life stories on the show, it’s the perfect equalizer… It shows that we have so much more in common than what separates us.”

Like “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” the Canadian version is a competition series in which drag artists compete in a series of challenges for the title of the Next Drag Superstar and a grand prize of $100,000.

Bowyer-Chapman is on the main judging panel alongside McKenzie, who is a supermodel, runway coach and “America’s Next Top Model” mentor; and Hytes, who was the first Canadian competitor to be featured on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and placed second on the show.

Singer Deborah Cox and actors Elisha Cuthbert, Tom Green, and Amanda Brugel are among the celebrity guests in the episodes, which roll out weekly.

The core of the show is the same as the American one, minus RuPaul, said the judges. And there are some “Canadian nuggets,” including a giant, glittery maple leaf on set.

“The show is so important for Canadian queens because it gives them something to work towards. It gives them a goal, it gives them a dream,” said Hytes, a classically trained ballet dancer and model who’s performed around Canada and the U.S. Hytes is the drag queen persona of Toronto-raised performer Brock Hayhoe.

“That’s the reason I left Canada to go to the States, is because I wanted to get on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ and because in Canada, I didn’t have any more goals left, I didn’t have anything to aspire towards…. And now we’re bringing that dream to Canada and bringing it to all these amazing queens who work so hard.”

In trying to inspire the queens, the judges found themselves also learning a thing or two.

“I definitely learned how to do better makeup,” McKenzie said with a laugh, adding that they were also inspired by the queens’ bravery, resiliency, and willingness to be vulnerable.

“The way they took the critiques was really refreshing. As a person who has worked on quite a few reality shows, competition shows similar to ‘Drag Race’ — I have never met a group of competitors who were just so open and so hungry to learn. They put aside all the their egos, all their high and mightiness.”

As Bowyer-Chapman put it, the only way the LGBTQ and Black Lives Matter movements can endure is for people to educate themselves.

And shows like “Canada’s Drag Race” can help with that, “so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes over and over and over again.”

“At this moment, it’s important for ‘Canada’s Drag Race’ audience, the young kids, to enjoy the celebration of our community while also paying respect and homage to the trailblazers who have come before us, who have made it possible for us to have a show like this,” said the former “Unreal” cast member, who’s been a guest judge on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and is a vocal advocate for diversity and inclusion, particularly for people of colour and the LGBTQ community.

“And it’s important for older generations who watch the show, to be able to acknowledge the importance of having a show like this and to inspire others to consistently and continuously educate themselves and enlighten themselves — and to make it abundantly clear that … our rights and a show like ‘Drag Race’ on the air is not something that can be taken for granted. It’s a gift and it’s a blessing, but it’s something that we’ve worked for and worked towards for generation after generation.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 1, 2020.

Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Shanna Lydiard is upset to have had mail delivery cut off last month to her West Park street because of water main reconstruction. Delivery is to resume by May 19 at the latest, according to the City of Red Deer. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
Red Deer woman frustrated by mail delivery suspension due to construction

Shanna Lydiard said residents shouldn’t have to drive across the city for their mail

Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA Devin Dreeshen received his COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday at Jackson’s Pharmacy in Innisfail. (Devin Creeshen Twitter photo)
COVID-19: Most local MLAs have received their first vaccine shot

Alberta’s NDP is encouraging all MLAs to get vaccinated and publicly promote… Continue reading

Alberta continues to wrestle with high COVID-19 case numbers. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Red Deer up to 858 active cases of COVID-19

Province reports additional 1,799 cases of the virus

Bo's Bar and Grill owner Brennen Wowk said the hospitality industry is looking for more clarity from the province around what conditions must be met to allow for restaurants reopening.
(Advocate file photo)
Frustated restaurant owners want to know government’s reopening plan

Restaurant owners feel they are in lockdown limbo

The Bowden Institution medium security facility near Bowden has 15 active COVID-19 cases. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)
15 active COVID-19 cases at Bowden prison

Bowden Institution has had 36 positive cases this year with 21 recovered and no deaths

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer and several members of city council helped kick off the spring Green Deer cleanup campaign on Wednesday. Veer said city workers do their best to keep the city looking good, but need volunteer help to get rid of litter that has blown into bushes onto road sides over the winter. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff)
Red Deer city councillors launch spring Green Deer campaign

Volunteers are needed to keep the city looking good

Ottawa Senators centre Josh Norris, right, celebrates his game-winning overtime goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs with left wing Brady Tkachuk Wednesday May 12, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Norris scored winner, Senators beat Maple Leafs 4-3 in Andersen’s return from injury

Norris scored winner, Senators beat Maple Leafs 4-3 in Andersen’s return from injury

Rafael Nadal, of Spain, holds up the trophy after beating Daniil Medvedev, of Russia, in the final at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament, in Montreal on Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Tennis Canada could move top tournaments to US if Toronto, Montreal plan not approved

Tennis Canada could move top tournaments to US if Toronto, Montreal plan not approved

Philadelphia Flyers' Travis Sanheim (6) and Brian Elliott (37) celebrate with teammates after the Flyers won an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils, Monday, May 10, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Puck luck? Hockey’s secrecy makes betting on NHL a gamble

Puck luck? Hockey’s secrecy makes betting on NHL a gamble

FILE - John Davidson, left, president of the New York Rangers, and Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton pose at a news conference in New York, in this Wednesday, May 22, 2019, file photo. The New York Rangers abruptly fired president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 with three games left in the season. Chris Drury was named president and GM. He previously served as associate GM under Davidson and Gorton. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
New York Rangers fire coach Dave Quinn, 3 assistants

New York Rangers fire coach Dave Quinn, 3 assistants

Denis Shapovalov, of Canada, returns a shot from Ilya Ivashka, of Belarus, during the Miami Open tennis tournament, Saturday, March 27, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Wilfredo Lee
Canadian Denis Shapovalov books meeting with Nadal in third round of Italian Open

Canadian Denis Shapovalov books meeting with Nadal in third round of Italian Open

United States goalie Alex Cavallini (33) deflects Canada's Marie Philip Poulin (29) shot during the first period in the women's 3-on-3 game, part of the NHL hockey All-Star weekend, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020, in St. Louis. Hockey Canada's roster of players invited to try out for the 2022 Olympic women's hockey team indicates the squad will be experienced up front and less so on the back end. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jeff Roberson
Hockey Canada announces players invited to try out for women’s Olympic team

Hockey Canada announces players invited to try out for women’s Olympic team

Atlanta Braves pitcher Max Fried works against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Hernández 2 HRs as Ryu, Blue Jays improve to 5-0 vs Braves

Hernández 2 HRs as Ryu, Blue Jays improve to 5-0 vs Braves

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell (36) makes a save as Maple Leafs defenceman TJ Brodie (78) and Montreal Canadiens forward Tyler Toffoli (73) look for the rebound during first period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Saturday, May 8, 2021. The Leafs and the Canadiens will meet in the playoffs for the first time in 42 years when the 2020-21 NHL post-season gets underway.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Leafs, Habs will face off in long-awaited playoff rematch, Oilers will face Jets

Leafs, Habs will face off in long-awaited playoff rematch, Oilers will face Jets

Most Read