After surviving three dramatic lip syncs and making it onto the top four of RuPaul's Drag Race UK season three, Vanity Milan was asked to sashay away from the competition. This week, Vanity had to lip sync for her life against Krystal Versace, who had never before landed in the bottom two throughout this competition. In the end, Krystal made it to the top three and Vanity was sent home after delivering yet another electrifying lip sync performance.
During an interview with Out, Vanity Milan opened up about being the only Black contestant in this cast, surviving three lip syncs, and how she – and her husband – felt about getting critiqued for her orange looks on the runway.
Warning! Spoilers for Drag Race UK season three, episode nine ahead!
Out: I want to start with a general question. How different – if different at all – was your journey on Drag Race UK from what you expected coming into season three?
Vanity Milan: Oh, it was the whole flip side. I thought it was going to be all flowers and things are going to be said to you and told to you. It was completely the opposite. I had this motto, I'm going to take every day as it comes when it comes to recording this show. So I definitely wanted to take every day as it came, and also just continue to be myself unapologetically.
The judges took issue with how many orange looks you featured on the runway, but I feel like there's only so much you can do after you get there and you only have a certain amount of looks in your luggage. What was going through your head as you kept hearing that critique?
Well, to be honest with you, I only had two orange looks, and the third orange look was a look that I chose for myself. So I shot myself in the foot there, but I knew that orange looked really good on me and I knew that they'd probably say something about it. But then the runway came for the movie look and I was like, "No, it's another orange dress and a blonde bob wig, and I've just shot myself in the foot." But I didn't prepare for those things, and that was how the cards were dealt. So I had to deal with it like that. It is what it is.
You mentioned that your husband made a lot of your looks on the runway. How did he react when he saw the critiques that you were getting from the judges?
I mean, it was very bittersweet. It's a moment where you're like, "Oh, you trying to come for my gig? That's my job. I make costume." And then, on the other hand, it's like there are things that we could have done better, but there's only so many things you can do when you have a national lockdown and all the shops are closed and the only place you can order from is Amazon. And you also [have to] use old costumes that I haven't worn before to create the looks that you've seen on the show. There's only so much you can do.
All the queens that I interviewed said the same thing about the preparation process for Drag Race UK season three.
The preparation was Amazon parcels every day, buying the wrong fabric from an online source. It was very strange, but the one thing that I did take from this is you can do drag on a budget. So it really did help me and I don't owe anybody anything. I spent my savings, and now all I have to do is make that back and put it back in the savings account. Cha-ching.
That's very smart! I thought that your runway look for this final episode was particularly stunning, probably the best you looked all season. Can you talk about some of your references for this look?
It was definitely Aaliyah in Queen of the Damned. It was the very vampire-looking, very ethereal goddess, very Black-inspired. That wasn't the wig I was meant to wear, nor did anyone see that I didn't have any eyelashes on [laughs]. But I was just giving Black queen goddess look with that, and the top [was like] Beyoncé's halo. I was trying to just embody Blackness and do it unapologetically.
Queens don't usually survive three lip syncs on Drag Race. Usually, the third lip sync is when they go. But in season two, Tayce actually got to the finale after lip syncing four times. After you won three lip syncs, were you still confident that you could get to the end, or did you worry about your place in the competition?
Oh, I knew I was going home next. I'm sorry, I knew it. I just – I had a feeling in my, you know, when you have that feeling in your bones. And you say, "Look, there cannot be another top four. It's going to get very boring if there's another top four. I mean, how many times can we see the same four queens? We want to see the top three fight it out." So I knew that my time was coming, but I still wanted to fight as hard as I did, and I think that last lip sync shows that I still wanted to be there and still fought for the top three spot. But you know, when you're going up against Krystal, who was "born to be a drag queen," fuck my drag, right?
I honestly did have that feeling watching you during this last episode. It seemed like you saw the writing on the wall, so it's interesting to hear that you did.
Yeah. I mean, I could already tell it was coming. I'm not going to reveal how I knew, but we did that mirror chat with Ella [Vaday] and the production guy was like, "So we're going to have you do a mirror chat with Ella," and I said to him, "Does this mean I'm going home today?" And he was like, "No, stop thinking that. When you have a mirror chat, no one really goes home." And then he was listing all the people that was like, had a mirror chat and didn't go home, and I was like...
So when I went home, I looked at him. I was like, "I told you I had a mirror chat to then go home. Thank you."
During this roast, you addressed the fact that you were the only Black queen featured in this season, which is something that the fans noticed as soon as the cast was announced. How did it feel to come to that realization when you first walked into the werkroom at the beginning of the season?
I think I was like fourth or fifth in, and I was like, "Oh, so I'm probably going to see some more queens that I've worked with if I'm on here," and that never happened. And I think I turned to Victoria Scone and said, "Fuck, I'm the only Black queen here." And she was like, "I know. This is disgraceful." And then I felt the pressure. There were so many times off-camera that I cried because I was like, "Am I doing my culture proud? Am I doing my people proud?" And I think I just got into that state of mind like, "Yes, I'm being unapologetically me, which is unapologetically a Black person, and I will bring all the sayings and all the things that you would usually do in my culture just like I did." I mean, I brought it to the show, and I've had so many people say, "Thank you so much for just representing us" and "You've done it so well." So I think I've done a good job.
But was that a weight that was constantly on your shoulders throughout the competition?
All day, every day. In the hotel room, in the werkroom – all day, every day. However, I just pushed out to the back of my mind and said, "Look, what I'm trying to do now is pave the way for queens of color to get on the show." And also, if I have to be that one person that's on the show, you're damn straight that it's going to be four or five on the next one because they don't want to see the same backlash again.
When the season started and the cast was announced, there was a story published about how Black queens didn't apply for the show in the U.K. because they didn't have the money to do so. Do you think that that's true? Do you have another theory?
The article you're talking about was done by a friend of mine, which is Freida Slaves, where they didn't want to do the show or they didn't have enough money to do the show. I think that's 100 percent correct. Black people are very underrepresented in the first place, and we have to work 10 times harder in this industry to actually be booked and also save the money to be able to go on a show like RuPaul's Drag Race. And sometimes, as Black queens in the industry of drag, we're going to get those fans that are really just not going to like us at all. Like, I'm in a room with the top four queens on a night out and [the fans] forget who I am and gravitate towards the white queens. And that's where we have to work really hard. So I think when it comes down to it, most queens don't want that on their backs, to be ignored because we're on a show.
You won the girl group challenge, which is super iconic. Are there any plans for Pick 'N' Mix to go on tour?
Possibly. I don't think I can tell you yes or no. I mean, I don't think I can say it yet. Yeah, I can't say it.
But you would be open to it?
Yes, we are open to touring! I just hope people don't forget about Pick 'N' Mix.
We won't forget. It was excellent.
I'm getting lots of TikToks with people chest-pumping, so I guess we're not being forgotten...not yet.
What's next for Vanity Milan after Drag Race UK? Is there something you'd like to promote at this time?
I don't have anything to promote at this time, but there are things that I would love to do. Vanity Milan is going to hit the ground running and it's exactly what I'm going to do. I want to do music. I want to do more TV things in and out of drag. I just want to take the world by storm by doing things that fit my brand. So if there's anyone out there in America that wants to book a queen, I'm available.
New episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK will premiere every Thursday at 11am PT/2pm ET in the US and in select territories exclusively on WOW Presents Plus, day-and-date with its local airing on BBC3 in the UK!