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Halleloo! Shangela Talks the Elevation of Drag Culture in A Star is Born

Halleloo! Shangela Talks the Elevation of Drag Culture in A Star is Born

Shangela, A Star is Born, Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Willam, RuPaul's Drag Race
Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

And get a first look at the comeback queen’s character from the upcoming film.

No crown? No problem! Even after being sent home three times on RuPaul's Drag Race no one would dare question the validity of Shangela Laquifa Wadley's career. From the box gag that keeps on giving to a phenomenal performance on the third season of All Stars, the Texas native is one of the most well-known queens to have ever sashayed away, and now she'll be running the very drag bar where Lady Gaga's character, Ally, gets her musical start in the upcoming Bradley Cooper-directed A Star is Born. Shangela chatted with Entertainment Weekly about how the role came to be and how the film serves as the latest infusion of drag culture into the mainstream. Here are some of our favorite takeaways:

Related | You Can Finally Listen to 'Shallow' From A Star is Born

Referring to the rumor that she first turned down the role when it was offered to her:

Let the record show I would never turn down a role with Lady Gaga. That was never the case. You know how characters go through changes in writing? The original character was a Marilyn Monroe lookalike, zombie kind of thing. So when it came across from my agent, I was like, girl that ain't me. I don't look nothin' like Marilyn Monroe. Maybe Eva Longoria! But that was the reason at first I didn't go in for the audition. When I got an email from Bobby Campbell, Lady Gaga's longtime manager, who knew me from ... the "Applause" video, he said "LG" -- Lady Gaga, halleloo -- "would really like you to come in for this role, she thinks it'd be a great fit for you." When I got that, honey, I found the nearest blonde wig, I found the nearest white dress, I was black Marilyn! Then the role after I auditioned changed to a drag bar owner and it expanded a little more.

On whether or not Bradley Cooper would turn it out as a queen and if she'd take him on as her drag daughter:

Let me tell you something: If Kameron Michaels can pull a muscle transformation, so can Bradley Cooper. I don't know if the thin brow is his look. I might want to get that Anastasia Beverly Hills pencil and go in on it a little bit more, but I think we can make him absolutely fabulous. We're probably going to have to find a size 17 shoe because she's got a large foot, but I love it. It's manly!

You know I'm Shangela, honey, I'm only on the scene for a little while. I'm a teen mom. But I would take him as my sister, you see. I'm still trying to look like Beyonce. I can't have too many kids!

On the real representation of the love and sisterhood that pervades drag culture, even though it's often used as a punchline in mainstream Hollywood projects:

As a drag diva auditioning in Hollywood, I've run the gamut. I've played the crackhead prostitute at the truck stop, I've been the queen in the back who did a murder mystery where my friend got beat up as a hooker, I've played a transgender hooker... It's nice to see newer projects showing more of the LGBT, gay, drag, and trans experience. There are so many different facets, and this is one of them. It seemed to be important to them to show Ally's relationship to [the queens], that it was not a superficial relationship. This is her experience. She works in this bar, these are her friends, these are the people who love her, this is her family, and that's how any family would interact. This film treated that storyline respectfully in that way, and it's something I will forever be so proud of because that's my daily experience.

Read Shangela's full EW interview here, and get a first look at the queen's character in the film. A Star is Born opens October 5.

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