She was the dark horse of the season, no competition. Miss Ass All-Mighty, A'Keria Chanel Davenport was not often discussed when people thought about the strongest contenders for the RuPaul's Drag Raceseason 11 crown, but she turned out solid acting chops, above average runways, and a killer twerk, all while wearing a well coiffed, almost signature blonde wig in a way that smacked of her drag pageant origins. And though pageants taught her how to polish it all up-- her resume of title wins is long -- she still had something to learn from the blockbuster televised competition.
"Drag Race taught me to not be afraid," Davenport said in her Maury Show-style intro video for the season's finale. While she was sent home by Yvie Oddly in a lip sync where neither of them completely nailed the words to Rihanna's "SOS" -- which, to be clear, is a damn shame -- we talked to the star about the drag family she came up in, being the "shit starter," and the skincare line she hopes to launch.
One of your standout moments was clearly the improv challenge, is that something you do as a part of your act?
Actually no! When I was in school I always loved to do different characters and improv but I never did it as A'Keria. I would sometimes do it like as a talent at a pageant but even then it was lipping a song or a skit for a movie. Having to come up with it off the top of your head ... I had fun. I definitely hope to do some more acting in the future. I really enjoy it actually.
Of all this season's contestants you really shined in your confessionals. Was that intentional or just a product of your personality?
It was definitely just a product of my personality. I honestly thought I was going to be boring. I would ask the interviewer, "Is that enough?" because I just felt like it was boring, but she kept saying it was great and that my personality would come across to the fans. I never was a comedy queen or anything like that, so I really didn't expect people to fall in love with that part of me.
The Davenports as a drag family have always been well represented on the show -- this season was no mistake. And you guys generally do well. Do you attribute that to anything?
It's just something within us I think. The Davenport family is definitely a pageant family so, all the characteristics that we bring to the show is something that we've learned from each other and pageantry, period. I am third generation so I came from under Armani Davenport. She actually asked me to be her daughter because we had a lot in common and she actually saw me getting myself together for a pageant one time. So, that's how I became a Davenport. I never asked anyone else from the family for any tips on Drag Race because I was so afraid of the whole non-disclosure agreement. I wanted to ask but I didn't want to get sued or kill my chances going into it.
Is there a part of your drag people overlook?
Well hell, I was the dark horse of the season so I feel like it was all of my drag! I don't know how they didn't see my talent but different strokes for different folks, I guess.
What is it that you actually most enjoy about drag?
Well for me it's a release. Being on that stage, it allows me to just be free for the moment and be whoever it is I want to be. You know we are like stars in our own mind. It's like when you're growing up and you're looking in the mirror and your favorite song comes on and you're singing and just letting go. That's what drag does for me.
At a few points during the season where drama had started, you were always one to sort of be very straightforward and hashing it all out in public, and I'm wondering how you felt about how it all played out?
Well how I was raised was, if you want to get to the bottom of something, you have to make sure that all parties involved are in attendance. So that's how I actually approached the situations. When the fans saw it, they sometimes said I was a mess-starter or I was shady. To me, it would be shady for me to go and say what I had heard as opposed to going to the source to get to the bottom of the situation.
What's next for you? I know a lot of queens release music but is there another project you really want to do?
I am going to work on some music but that's not the biggest thing I am concerned about at this point. What I'm trying to get into is cosmetics and skincare. Also, I'm working on some charity efforts -- I want to start a safe haven for youth of the LGBTQ+ community and trans women that will be first based out of Texas. In the past, I was working with Abounding Prosperity in Texas which is a clinic for HIV where we did free testing -- queer people are coming out younger and younger so I really wanted to stress to the community that we needed to get tested. A lot of people talk about going to get tested but what are you doing to make sure people get tested?
With the cosmetology project are we talking about skincare or makeup or what is your goal?
I'm actually talking mostly about skincare. All of the Ru girls run to get a makeup line and stuff like that and of course sooner or later I definitely will want one for myself, but I feel like it starts at the canvas. We really have to make sure that canvas is together before we put anything on it.
The skincare business is kind of harder to get into. You really have to get your feet wet by starting out being the face of a product. That way you can sort of learn the ins and outs of the business and what works and doesn't work for different skin types. So I've been doing a little research into that on my off days which is very few and far between right now.