You'd be hard-pressed to find an entertainer—let alone another drag performer—harder at work these days than Shangela (né D.J. Pierce). You grew to love this L.A.-based queen from her two stints on RuPaul's Drag Race and have since seen her face on the web, on television and at a local venue near you.
Shangela shows no signs of slowing down, currently set to appear on tomorrow night's special Thanksgiving episode of Glee alongside Chris Colfer, Lea Michele and gay fave Sarah Jessica Parker—dancing to a Scissor Sisters song, natch! We sat down with Shangela to discuss the upcoming episode, in addition to a brand-new music video set to premiere soon and an upcoming trip to the sand and sea of the Caribbean!
I hear that you're set to appear on the Nov. 29 episode of Glee, and even better, as Shangela! Tell me about that experience, and what can we expect to see this Thursday night?
I've been a fan of Glee since the first season, so I was so excited to be cast as a small guest star for this week's episode. Everything about this opportunity rocks—first, I'm gonna be in drag! (Yes, halleloo will be in the building!) Second, I'm going to be dancing to the Scissor Sisters hit song "Let's Have a KiKi." And third, I'm doing all this alongside some of my favorite actors—Chris Colfer, Lea Michele and (get into it) Sarah Jessica Parker!
When I wrapped after the second day of taping, I had to ask myself, "Did all this really just happen?" I can't wait for it to air. We had a blast on-set. You know I was over there acting the damn fool between takes, cracking some good ol' Laquifa humor with Chris, Lea and super hottie Dean Geyer (Brody). And working with SJP was everything a lil' gay boy from Paris, Texas, like me could hope for. She was sweet and nice and fashionable in rhinestoned Manolos—like a fairy drag angel. Even the show's crew was amazing—they kept asking, "How would you prefer to be addressed when you're in drag. DJ? Shangela? him? her?" I said, "Honey I'll answer to just about anything—except 'prostitute.' I don't turn my head to that name until after midnight." [Laughs]
Next week you also have a brand-new music video premiering, featuring none other than Abby Lee Miller of Dance Moms and your pal Jenifer Lewis. Tell me about the new track and video.
Yes, the music video to my dance track "Werqin' Girl" debuts online Dec. 1. I co-wrote the song with local singer C.J. Emmons and was lucky to have it featured on season three of Lifetime's show Dance Moms. This is my very first music video project, and being the self-proclaimed "lil' Beyonce," I was set on being involved in every step of its production, from sketching out costumes and storyboarding the shoot to sitting with my director and editor Camrin William for hours to make sure every shot was aligned with our initial vision. It's been quite the learning process, but luckily I managed not to pull out every track in my weave. Seriously, though, I set the bar really high for myself on this, because I think my fans deserve to continue to see that no matter how long you've been in the game, you can still turn the party. And honestly, I can't be singing a song called "Werqin' Girl" if I'm not willing to put in the werq!
But there's no way I could have pulled this off on my own. I'm lucky to have such talented friends, and so many of them (and people I've worked with before) pitched in to make this happen. Prepare to see some familiar faces—Dance Moms' Abby Lee Miller, mega-diva and veteran actress Jenifer Lewis, choreographer and dancer Mike Silas (notably from Lady Gaga's Monster Ball tour), my Drag Race sister Yara Sofia, Drag Race pit crew hottie Jason J. Carter and more!
I've seen you in a really funny web series starring yourself and Jenifer Lewis, and it seems like a match made in heaven. How did the two of you initially get together?
I idolized Jenifer for years. She has this cult following mockumentary film called Jackie's Back: Portrait of a Diva!
When I was in college, I would host annual Jackie's Back
parties where we came dressed as our favorite Jenifer Lewis character from the movie. (Yes, I was a little psycho.) My senior year of college, I was in NYC and saw her in a play with Meryl Streep called Mother Courage and Her Children
. She was brilliant, and so I made my way backstage to tell her so. She immediately quizzed me on her entire filmography, including direct quotes. I passed with flying colors, told her I was moving to L.A., and she offered me a job as her assistant.
I've learned so much from Jenifer, and when I got kicked off Drag Race season two, she was the first person to embrace me and say (as only she can), "Oh well, motherf#%ker. The elevator to success is broken. You're gonna have to take the stairs." We've become really close over the last five years. I guess you can call us a "match" that the universe was kind enough to bring together. We've developed an awesome chemistry, and luckily Girlfriends writer Mark A. Brown decided to capture that in a four-part scripted web series called Jenifer Lewis and Shangela. We want people to continue to watch, share and subscribe to our YouTube channel, and hopefully more webisodes will come in the new year!
Last but not least, you've got an exciting trip coming up in your near future! How excited are you for the upcoming 'Drag Race at Sea' cruise, and what can your fans who'll be onboard expect?
I've worked my little padded booty off this year, so I'm really
excited to take this cruise vacation to the Caribbean with my Drag Race
sisters and a boat full of our amazing fans. I usually get me a little golden bronzing from Citrine Glow in West Hollywood (yes, some black people tan!) but I'm getting a natural burn from Dec. 2-9, courtesy of ALandChuck.travel
. Halleloo! There's gonna be a lot of "fish" in the sea, and fans onboard can expect a lot of fun performances and up-close time with some of their Drag Race
favorites. I know I'll be doing pieces from my recent stand-up comedy tour, Laquifa is Halleloosin' It
, which will be available on DVD by Christmas through Shangela.com
. Yes, honey—this vacation can't come quickly enough!
For more info on D.J. “Shangela” Pierce, visit shangela.com.