‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’: Sasha Colby on Overcoming Shame, Rom-Com Dreams



Sasha Colby is on top of the world. Well, she’s on her balcony looking out at it.

Colby hasn’t had a moment to stop since being crowned the winner of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 15. She’s been traveling the world, performing at Vice President Kamala Harris’ house during Pride month, and being honored for her work. Colby’s win was historic. Not only was she the first Native Hawaiian queen to appear on the show, she’s also the first winner of Polynesian descent. Her win means she gets to go out there and spread her artistry and celebrate drag. Sasha Colby is hot property and in demand.

Here, Colby shares her aspirations with Variety, and reflects on her win, growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness and finding her truth.

Looking back, how are you feeling about the win today, both as Sasha Colby the drag queen and the person?

It’s been a whirlwind and nonstop. You’ve caught me on a good day because I’ve had a second to reflect and sit in all that’s happened. It’s been amazing meeting people, performing all over the world and being able to travel. But to be able to talk about and be asked about trans issues and what it means to be doing drag right now feels so relevant and long overdue. On a personal level, it feels like a great victory lap because I get to visit and meet people who are so emotionally invested in my story and in my future.

With all the people you’ve met and the stories from people who have reached out to you on social media, is there a story that has stuck with you?

There are so many. Being able to speak at Vice President Kamala Harris’ home for Pride was insane. To be able to go and receive an award from the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, and to see how proud they were to have a Mahu represent them also felt powerful.

Meeting young gay kids who are growing up and realizing that these ideas that are put on us, the grooming that happened from an early age, is not healthy, and it’s scary to have to grow up and realize that. I really get blown away by telling my truth on TV, and that allows people to connect with our problems because everything is universal, and you’re never really alone.

Growing up AAPI and in the church, how did you navigate out of that to say, “No, this is not who I am?” without fear of backlash and thinking the community will hate you? Or the idea from your family that you’d bring shame on the community?

I came to terms with shame because there was so much shame being given to me at that age while I was trying to figure out if those ideas were healthy or harmful. Everything I did was met with shame and it was shameful to them. If everything you do is shameful, you start to think, “There’s nothing to be ashamed about and I’m a nice person. I do treat people well, and they don’t deserve me.” It took years and decades to let go of that. Nothing you could ever do would make those people happy because in the words of Ru, “They don’t love themselves so they can’t love anyone else, and that’s really sad.” It’s really shameful.

OK, let’s go back to 2014 when you moved to L.A. You came here to be famous, but how was it navigating the city?

I like to think of myself as a citizen of the world. When I lived in Chicago, I loved it. When I lived in Orlando, I loved it … or tried to. But growing up in Hawaii, my friends and I knew when we graduated that we wanted to become dancers or be in entertainment. Moving to L.A. seemed the sure thing because it was either that or New York. A lot of my close-knit friends ended up moving to Los Angeles. After winning Miss Continental, I wanted to go mainstream and wanted to be an artist able to move freely. It was also where the queens would go if they wanted to be on “Drag Race.” So it was about advancing my career opportunities, being closer to my chosen family and the weather is so much easier out here.

In a recent interview, casting director Goloka Bolte said she was so thankful you finally said yes to auditioning, what made Season 15 the season for you?

I knew I would get a tap on the shoulder from the universe. I knew when it was my time to step up. There were times when you were waiting in the dugout … I can’t believe I used a sports metaphor…

Are you OK?

It was a momentary lapse of judgment. I thought I was in my baseball gloves look. The pandemic helped put things into perspective. I was also living with Kylie Sonique Love and helped her get her ready for her win. It was watching and seeing what she did. It was seeing my drag daughter Kerri Colby get on Season 14. She walked into the [“Drag Race”] werkroom as a fully realized trans woman, and I saw myself. It made me feel better.

Can you talk about what it was like entering the werkroom for the first time?

I was so nervous and shaky. I also felt, knowing my reputation, “I’ve got to step up, honey.” But it was super nerve-wracking. It’s like when you’re nervous right before you perform, the only thing you can do is take a deep breath and remember why you do drag, which is to have people look at you anyway. [Laughs].

The finale is filmed with each of you “winning,” so spoilers don’t get out, but what was it like learning you had won?

It was down to Anetra and I. We were waiting, and I was thinking, “How will I react?” I didn’t want to think about how I was going to cry. But to me, it felt anticlimactic because it was so personal to me, and I was in this ball crying, and the girls were crying. I was like a little kid and my bottom lip was puckered out and I went back into kid mode, but I was so happy.

What was a highlight for you?

There were so many. But our interactions with Ru were priceless, to be able to pick her brain. In the Daytona Wind Acting Challenge, she was directing us and was so happy. She was like a little kid on set that day because she was so excited. I thought it was so amazing that … RuPaul is in charge of providing work for the cast and crew and making these drag queens dreams come true.

What do you want next? Let’s put that out there.

I want to be a pop star. I want to be an actress, I want to do like a trans love story, I want to do a good rom-com with a trans lead. I want to do a fun “Broad City” kind of show with trans and non-binary experiences. How fun would that be, two trans girls navigating New York, wreaking havoc, and seeing the stories that no one knows?


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