When Shangela stepped on the Oscars red carpet on Sunday, she made history. After a stand out cameo appearance in the Academy Award-winning remake of A Star Is Born, starring as a voice actor in Netflix’s Super Drags, and a vocal appearance on Ariana Grande’s single “NASA,” she became the first drag queen to walk on the Oscars red carpet in drag. All of this, from what started off as a very abbreviated stint on RuPaul’s Drag Race’s second season — although she did return quite a few times.
“I woke up asking, ‘Did it really all just happen?’” Shangela tells Out Monday morning after her big Oscars debut. She walked the carpet alongside Jenifer Lewis, who is a close friend and who once took her in as a roommate. “I have no voice right now after screaming and dancing at the afterparty.”
Here we talk to the star — and Diego Montoya who designed her gown — about everything that went into the big day, and what she got up to right after. “It was a moment I hope really inspires people to never give up on their dreams,” she says. Shangela is currently developing her own one woman show and a comedy special “Shangela is Shook” in the works.
“I do my own makeup a lot, but I had always wanted to work with Lipsticknick,” says Shangela. Nicole Faulkner, also known as Lipsticknick, is an artist that has worked with Jeffree Star, Michelle Visage and more. “She’s a fantastic artist and she lives literally 12 minutes from me. I wanted to go for a soft glam look because the hair was going to be a nod to Old Hollywood glamour, and the gown was a stunning evening gown.”
“This entire look really was a collaborative effort,” Shangela says. “The beautiful gown [is] by Diego Montoya, who had done my dress that got such an amazing response at the London premiere, the beautiful hair by Gypsy Wigz of New York, and the earrings by Lollicox.”
“The reason I chose Diego [Montoya] was not only because he is a queer person of color, but also he’s just incredibly talented!” Shangela says. Montoya has also worked with queens like Sasha Velour, Aja and Monet X Change in the past but this marked his first Oscars event as well. “And that’s just the amazing overarching thing. Some of the best talents in the world are within our queer community, of course, but especially when it comes to fashion.”
“You know Shangela, with who she is, is just really beautiful already, so I just wanted to frame and support that,” says Diego Montoya who created the dress on a 10-day turnaround with no fittings and a team of four at his studio in New York. “I didn’t want the dress to be wearing her. We had been talking for a while about different awards, so I had already had about 20 awards dresses sketched out, but the one we ended up doing was a new one that just came very spontaneously to me. … We were hand beading for like five days straight on that dress.”
“It was really nonstop,” Shangela recounts. “Jenifer and I were the first people in line for the red carpet, we were so excited, we were so thrilled. We got there before the carpet even opened, and I was in full drag for nine hours. You want to talk about a full coverage foundation? Thank you, Dermablend.”
“After we went to the Governor’s Ball which is the on-site after party.”
“Marc Shaiman invited Jenifer and I as his guests,” says Shangela. Shaiman was nominated for two awards for his work in Mary Poppins Returns.“That was really amazing that he and Jenifer both support me — not only as a friend but also as a drag queen — and made that moment for the very first drag queen, in drag, to walk the red carpet at the Oscars. So I will forever be thankful to the both of them. Jen is one of my favorite people in the entire world ... she was like your mom at the prom. She kept fixing my train and I would say, ‘Stop that,’ and she would say, ‘No honey, you gotta have this right.’”