If you were wondering about where your next taste of ballroom was coming from, look no further: HBO has finally announced the lineup of judges for their new voguing competition series Legendary. The nine episode unscripted series will stream on HBO Max and will feature teams battling it out.
Actress Jameela Jamil of The Good Place and The Misery Index will function as the master of ceremonies for the series. She will be joined by Megan Thee Stallion, Law Roach and Leiomy Maldonado as judges. Dashaun Wesley will function as commentator and DJ MikeQ will be the DJ. Now let’s get into some things.
With ballroom coming to the mainstream, there’s undoubtedly a lot of people hoping to cash in. Those people come from everywhere, both inside and outside of the scene. Ballroom as a community knows this all to well: they’ve been taken advantage of with outsiders profiting off of the fruits of their labor for years. One would hope that Legendary isn’t a repeating of that history.
The encouraging thing about the announced cast of Legendary is that there are some names that are staples in the ballroom scene. DJ MikeQ has helped to craft the sound of ballroom for years, creating countless versions of the “Ha” that we hear so often in the background of clips. He also helped to engineer the sound of projects like Kiki and My House and presides over House of Vogue, a popular vogue night in New York City.
Then there’s Dashaun Wesley and Leiomy Maldonado. Known better to some as Dashaun Lanvin and Amazon Leiomy, they are two of ballroom’s most visible performers. Though they aren’t frequently on the floor today, their influence as icons in the scene certainly is. They were also both members of Vogue Evolution, the voguing dance group that appeared on America’s Best Dance Crew, and are cast members of Pose.
Law Roach is a name many will know as stylist and “image architect” to the stars. He was the first Black stylist to cover The Hollywood Reporters’ Most Powerful Stylists issue, and has worked with Zendaya, Ariana Grande, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, and almost everyone else. He also was a permanent judge on America’s Next Top Model. And while he may have never walked a ball, he certainly knows the community — this isn’t said on speculation, but instead because this writer knows Roach personally.
As for Megan and Jamil, there is no indication that either of them are involved at any level with ballroom. And that happens when things go mainstream and is in ways understandable. They seem random, to be absolutely frank, with very little to do with the community. At least celebrities like Nicki Minaj and Cardi B are known for sharing clips of ballroom performers on social media. Even FKA Twigs has been spotted at balls before. And of course, there's Mj Rodriguez standing (and voguing) right there!! Can we say the same about Jamil?
The show description also mentions a rotating guest judge every week (it notably does not mention what the prize for the competition is but we will save that for another day). We hope that the producers, who were also behind Queer Eye and The Amazing Race, use this guest slot to lean into people with relevant expertise or exposure to the scene. Any number of icons from the ballroom scene would work. There’s also Dominique Jackson from Pose. It would be a pity to see them tip the scales in favor of buzzy names who aren’t going to know what they are looking at.