The angels came out to play on the Nov. 18 episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK with the heavenly roast challenge. While the queens had to put on a comedy show for the judges and the recently departed queens from the season, only one had to sashay away. That queen happened to be Vanity Milan.
“Well, as a kid, I never used to like getting up presenting anything. So I was, I was bricking it,” she said to Shadow and Act. “But…you can’t say ‘No, I don’t really want to do it.’ It’s something that I had to do. I’m a very nice person. I don’t like to read people; I like to uplift people and stay positive, but the name of the game was to shade people…so I didn’t it to myself more than I did it to anybody else because I respect and love each and every one of the queens and the judges.”
“Watching it back, I was like, ‘Oh, I didn’t do that bad,’ because I thought I did really bad,” she continued. “After I came off stage, I threw the papers, I crawled up into a ball and said, I’m done, I’m going home tonight.’ And though I did, it wasn’t because of the reading challenge.”
Milan confirmed that the queens didn’t just have werkroom time to write their set.
“We had some time off to actually write these jokes, So I was just in the room of the hotel, just writing and scribbling and making sure that I wanted to get what I wanted to say across,” she said. “I think in a way I’m not really funny–well, [I’m funny] off the cuff, I’m a little bit sarcastic here and there. But it was a good challenge and it challenged me to sit down and write some funny stuff.”
Milan said that seeing the other girls come back as the audience (or “filler,” as she joked), helped her feel more at ease about performing her comedy set.
“That’s what kind of made me breathe a little bit, because I was like, ‘I want to come down and hug you,’ but we couldn’t, we couldn’t even like touch. We couldn’t hug. And as soon as it finished, they had to go straight back out and we had to continue filming,” she said. “So it was, it was really good to see them. But it was also really haunting because they’re all sitting there with their resting bitch faces, and I was just like, ‘I love you will stop looking at me like this?'”
She also praised Ella Vaday for her winning roast, saying Vaday is exceptional at commanding a crowd.
“Ella Vaday knows how to own a stage and what you saw is what we saw when we were sitting there watching that. And it was like, you know, ten times bigger because we were sitting by the stage like this and the…queens in the audience [were] laughing and living their best fantasy, getting their time,” she said. “It was great. We had to contain ourselves because it was being filmed obviously. And I couldn’t, you know, get up and say ‘Hold my earrings, I’m going to get up there and get you,’ but that’s what I wanted to do. It was really fun just to wach the other girls in their space[.]”
Part of Milan’s time on the show was defined by the fact that she was the only Black queen on the series. As such, Milan talked about what it was like to feel like she was carrying the torch for the Black audience.
“Well, we like to say that we’re a group of sisters and I appreciate my sisters so much. I love them so much, but I didn’t have a sister with me in [kin]folk, someone that we could kiki with and we get the same jokes, we get the same kind of cultural references,” she said. “And also when we were talking about like my makeup, I didn’t have a sister there where she could share tips with me about why I could do with my face to me to make it contoured, highlights and stuff like that. I got told to ask Krystal Versace, and Krystal uses white powder on her face, and I powder, but I don’t use the white powder and it was a bit difficult.”
“I felt the pressure. There was many times off camera where I cried my eyes out because I felt like I wasn’t doing my culture proud. But then I got a lot of messages throughout the show with like the most amazing messages from the fans thanking me for…holding the torch and holding it down for us,” she continued. “I can only wish that the next seasons are going to be full of not just POC Queens, but the UK has a lot of diversity when it comes to performers. And I would love to see drag kings, more AFAB Queens and more cabaret performance in that space, because this is what we offer in the UK.”
Like what Choriza May and River Medway had to say about American judging UK drag, Milan also said that there is a disconnect between the American understanding of British drag.
“British drag is very tongue in cheek. Um, we, that, you know, east London queens, sometimes they don’t tuck they don’t, they wear hairy legs, they’ve got the chest and we do things different here from what they do [in America],” she said. “Like in America, queens are a lot more like pageanty maybe, or, you know, performance “boots the house down” queens and lip-sync assassins. And I think there is a huge disconnect when it comes to like American judging the UK kind of version of Drag Race, because they are different from a lot more of the queens here in the UK. We sing live, they don’t lip sync. So you can see the difference between UK and US, but you know, at the same time, but all performance. So that’s what connects us all together on this platform, and our love for entertaining.”
She also talked about what came to be her defining color this season–orange. She said she actually didn’t get why she was being critiqued for wearing a color she actually only wore twice on the show, when other queens on other seasons of the franchise have worn a single color multiple times without getting critiqued.
OH MY GODDESS ✨ pic.twitter.com/VRqW96GsmS— VANITY SINGLE ONE TALENT MILAN (@ItsVanityMilan) November 21, 2021
“I don’t, I don’t, I don’t get it. I didn’t understand it. However, I didn’t know when I was doing, preparing for Drag Race, I didn’t know that orange would be my color. I only had two orange outfits,” she said. “By chance, I picked this outfit that I mopped from the Drag Race charity [shop challenge] and it happened to be orange and it also had a blonde wig. And then the next week after that, I wore orange [for] my B.A.P.S. look. I didn’t know the placement of when the runways were going to be. So I just took it and ran with it because you know, orange is now my color. Orange is the new Black.”
Overall, Milan said that her Drag Race experience helped her evolve her drag persona, a persona that’s only a year old.
“My journey was definitely a journey of growth. From episode one, looking busted and greasy to episode nine, where I looked absolutely phenomenal. The growth was definitely there and it, I think it needed to happen for me as well because I’ve only doing drag for one year,” she said. “It was a serious thing for me to get on to Drag Race [because I thought] I needed to grow in a little bit more before I went on Drag Race, but then I was like, ‘You know, let me go on Drag Race and grow on [it], take the critiques and run with it.'”
“The girls on the season, they uplifted me. I uplifted them [and we’re] such a great support system for one another,” she continued. “It is really amazing. I have a group of sisters now, that I can call anytime I need and they’re always uplifting and supportive.”
She said she had a Drag Race queen messaging her during the interview, showing just how close the queens are this season. You can watch more of the queens’ camaraderie on Drag Race UK, airing Thursdays on WOW Presents Plus.