QUEER VOICES

Last Words: Laila McQueen Reflects On Her Time On ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’

"You have to be ready for everything."

Throughout the eighth season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Huffington Post Queer Voices will interview each departing queen on the Tuesday following the air date of their elimination episode. Check HuffPost Queer Voices weekly to hear these queens reflect on their time on the show and their legacy as queer artists and performers. Check out the previous interviews with Naysha Lopez and Dax Exclamationpoint.

On March 14, fans of "RuPaul's Drag Race" got their first big shake-up of the season when the Supermodel of The World sent two of her girls home in the earliest double elimination of the franchise.

The move paved the way for a new queen to enter (or return back into?) the competition -- but, honestly, your guess is as good as ours as to who will show up on next week's episode. Earlier this week we talked to Dax Exclamationpoint, one of the two queens that Ru sent packing this week. Now we've had a chance to chat with the other eliminated contestant, Laila McQueen, about her artistic practice of drag, where she draws inspiration from for her craft and what she wants people to know about the legacy of her work as a performer.

The Huffington Post: How would you describe who you are as an artist and performer?
Laila McQueen: Honestly, like most people, I was a stupid introverted kid who just started doing art as a way to kind of escape. I was never really into drugs or excessive alcohol or anything that mind-altering when I was starting to grow up, but I’ve always been into art for as long as I can remember. So, when I started to figure out what drag was and was having a hard time at school, it seemed right up my alley – something I could really get myself into.

Who do you look to for inspiration?
I look at all sorts of different people outside of the realm of drag, I love Pop Art and ‘80s culture -- a lot of the art from Andy Warhol and Keith Haring and Basquiat. I love Divine, Candy Darling, Marylin Manson, people like that. Also Freddie Mercury and David Bowie -- all sort of weirdoes from many different time periods. All variations between musical artists and performers, visual artists -- all just like a melting pot.

I also take a lot of inspiration from movies -- I really love movies of course like “Beetlejuice” and “Rocky Horror,” “Hedwig,” “Party Monster.” I watch a ton of movies -- more so than I listen to music -- so I get a lot of inspiration from characters and plots and the development of characters.

How did it feel when you were eliminated so early on in the competition?
It’s disappointing because obviously no one gets on the show to go home. Like, I could’ve just stayed home, you know [laughs]. So it was a bit of a letdown, especially the manner in which we were told to pretty much evacuate the premise, as you will. It feels disappointing, but what people have to remember in the grand scheme of things is that it’s a very exclusive show and only so many people get the opportunity to go on it. So as much as it sucks to have gone home when I did, I wasn’t first -- and I got on.

Right, and that’s an amazing accomplishment.
Absolutely.

What would you say is one formative thing that you’ve taken away from the experience?
Appreciate the chances that you’re given -- that’s not anything new to me but being on the show you realize that as big as you think you are there are so many other people in the world who do exactly what you do and you need to be grateful for the opportunities you’re given. I don’t want to say “live in the moment,” but definitely don’t take things too seriously all of the time. I’ve spent a lot of time since the show ended worrying about going home and I’m very surprised to see the positive response from everyone despite how early I went. So it’s kind of like I wasted all of that time and anxiety for no reason.

What advice would you give to someone who makes it onto the show in the future?
Good luck! [laughs] You have to be ready for everything. Be easy to work with and expect the unexpected. I know that sounds so cliché to say but when you’re there anything can happen -- and it’s exhausting. Make sure to get rest and eat and don’t get too in your head.

What do you want the legacy of Laila McQueen to be?
Well, I would like people to know right now in this current day and time that we are under such extreme circumstances in the show in that we as entertainers, performers, people and artists are not defined by one point in time or a mistake that we may or may not have made on national television. I think people should remember that – I am still an entertainer, artist and performer who isn’t half bad even thought I went home too soon. So I just hope people realize that more so than remembering me as an anxious mess on TV [laughs].

Want to catch up with the previous winners of “Drag Race”? Head here and check out the slideshow below for interviews with the previously eliminated season eight queens.

PHOTO GALLERY
"RuPaul's Drag Race" Season Eight Eliminated Queens

RuPaul’s Drag Race“ airs on Monday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Logo. Tune in next week to find out who Ru called at the end of this week’s cliffhanger! Plus the queens compete in an over-acting challenge with guest judges Faith Evans and Tasha Smith from “Empire.”

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