Priyanka is a multi-talented powerhouse who is taking the entertainment world by storm. Starting from humble roots as a YTV host, this Canadian performer transformed into an international sensation after being crowned the winner of Canada's Drag Race in 2020.
  • @swaggermag
  • Drew Williams

  • Kristen Anzelc

  • Colin Gaudet

  • Amber Watkins

  • Kristen Klontz at P1M Artist & Talent Management

  • Marc-Andre Levac

  • Sabrina Rinaldi at P1M Artist & Talent Management

Queen of Pop:

You were the first-ever winner of Canada’s Drag Race. Tell us about your journey into drag and how Priyanka was born?

Priyanka: In 2016, I moved to Toronto's Gay Village and became enamoured with drag culture. It was a space where I felt free and accepted. Drag queens were like celebrities to my friends and me, so I hired a drag queen for my 26th birthday party and she suggested I audition for a drag competition at Crews and Tangos. I took her advice, bought wigs and costumes and embarked on a journey into drag. When it came to choosing a drag name, I was watching Quantico on CTV and was inspired by trailblazing lead actress Priyanka Chopra who broke down barriers for brown people in the entertainment industry. I just wanted people to know that there was going to be a brown person on stage when they called my name and to showcase that brown people can do it too.

Tell me how it felt to be the first-ever winner of Canada’s Drag Race.

Priyanka: Winning Canada’s Drag Race was an incredible experience for me and it felt right. While filming, I didn't know if I had won or not but there was a turning point where I felt in my gut that it was going to happen. When I auditioned, I just wanted to be a drag queen and perform. During the show I met Ilona Verley, who is the first Indigenous contestant on the Drag Race franchise and she was so open to answering questions about Indigenous culture and I was struck by her pride in sharing their culture. It was a powerful moment for me and I felt inspired by her being so proudly true to herself and her culture. That’s the moment I became more excited to be the first winner because I wanted to show other South Asian people or any hard-working person out there that hard work can pay off and your dreams can come true if you hustle and grind.

Now I can encourage others to follow their dreams and show them that it's possible to succeed.

Tell me about your new single, "Bad Bitches Don’t Cry."

Priyanka: I wrote my new song "Bad Bitches Don't Cry" with Ralph, whom I met on season one of Canada's Drag Race. My manager suggested we work together and we hit it off instantly. I told her I wanted the song to be about being 100% confident and not taking no for an answer. Ralph mentioned a scene from Selling Sunset where Chelsea Lazkani tells Christine Quinn that "Bad Bitches Don't Cry" after being bullied, and that served as the inspiration for the song. I even heard from Christine and Chelsea on Instagram as they both sent me a DM saying they liked the song, which meant so much to me.

Did you always want to pursue music?

Priyanka: I had always wanted to pursue music. I used to sing in the car, in the shower and even put on concerts in my bedroom as a kid. I remember hanging up a curtain, setting up a spotlight in my room with a fan on and performing "Buttons" by The Pussycat Dolls over and over again. I am happy to report that now I am living my best life as a Pussycat Doll in my music videos and on stage. I have a few upcoming shows planned this summer for Pride, and they are going to be so much fun.

What advice would you give to younger people who are struggling to find their place in the world?

Priyanka: My advice for young people struggling to find their place in the world is to expect that not everyone will believe in you, understand you, or understand your goals.

Do not rely on validation from others because ultimately, you must follow your passions and desires.

If you have a dream, do not let anyone discourage you from pursuing it. Trust your instincts and keep working towards your goals, even when it feels difficult. Whether you want to be a pop star, a dentist, an artist, or anything else, know that you have thought about that feeling for a reason and it is the path you should follow. Remember that your feelings and aspirations are valid and worth pursuing.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Priyanka: I had to struggle to get to where I am now and have the head on my shoulders that I do today. I spent many years in the closet, lying to people and just not being true to myself. When I was younger; deep down in my heart, I knew I was gay, so the only advice I have for my younger self would be to allow myself the time to express my sexuality and be true to who I was born to be. I'm proud to say that I am now 100% that person but back then, it was full of lies, smoke, and mirrors.

What does Pride mean to you?

Priyanka: For me, Pride means education — that we can all exist together and that we are all equal. I believe it is essential for magazines, websites, sponsorships, and corporations to feature and work with queer people or those in the LGBTQ+ community outside of Pride Month. While it is important to have representation during Pride, that should be the norm year-round, not just during one month.

Pride should be about continuous representation and inclusivity.

You're going back to your TV hosting roots and just joined the Etalk family. Can you share a bit about that journey so far?

Priyanka: Etalk is going amazingly well. I wish I could go back and tell my younger self in college that I would eventually land the big Etalk job because that's what I studied for. Initially, I wanted to work at Etalk so badly and when I got the job, there was a moment where I felt like I had made it and so many full circles were closing. I feel very grateful to have had all these experiences. The timing of everything is so important too. While drag queens are under attack in certain parts of the world; here I am, just a regular host on the number one entertainment show in Canada, entertaining people of all ages. It doesn't matter that I'm a drag queen, I'm just simply an entertainer. It means a lot more to me now than I thought it was going to be at the time and it's been amazing. The Etalk team is so fun to work with.

What is next for Priyanka?

Priyanka: As for what's next for me, there's a lot on my plate. I've been keeping busy with acting and hosting Etalk Canada, and I'm currently working on developing a TV show. I'm also preparing for the release of my album which will come out in the fall. Music has always been a significant part of my life and I want to keep making great music. My dad and brothers are DJs and they always said that music is the universal language of love, which has always resonated with me. Music has a unique ability to make us feel our emotions and connect with others and that's why I'm passionate about making great music for everyone to hear. Moving forward, I plan to continue releasing more music and hope to see everyone on tour!

Stay updated with Priyanka's latest projects and events by following her on social media @thequeenpriyanka or visiting her website.

Check out her newest single, "Bad Bitches Don't Cry," now available on all major streaming platforms.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.


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