What a drag queen can teach you about self-confidence

Published 5:00 pm Monday, June 3, 2024

What a drag queen can teach you about self-confidence

An insult comic par excellence—and one of the the brightest superstars to emerge from all 16 glittering seasons of “RuPaul’s Drag Race”—Bianca Del Rio has one of the sharpest tongues in all of dragdom and an ever-growing legion of fans who snap up tickets to hear her shish kebab her fellow queens, pop culture icons, politicians, and, if they’re lucky, they themselves.

The alter ego of Roy Haylock, a transplanted Louisianan who quickly made a name for themselves in New York City in the late ’90s and now calls Palm Springs, California, home, Del Rio has performed to sold-out audiences around the globe.

Taking a moment from their new “Dead Inside” comedy world tour, they offer expert advice on authenticity, confidence, and managing life onstage and off.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“It’s important to stay in school and get a real job,” they advise. “This is not what you want to do.”

Find your authentic voice

“Most people find their authentic voice after they’ve been shot down a couple of times. I’ve been doing drag for 28 or 29 years, and it’s through the hard times that you find your voice. You start to figure out the things that work best for you.”

Follow your gut

“My natural instincts made me different. A lot of my friends were creative and funny and smart, but they were concerned with fitting a mold. I was definitely not one of those people. There was no mold for me.”

Find your inspiration

“Growing up, there were a few people I thought, ‘Ooh, there’s something about them.’ Liberace was one of them. Madame, the puppet, was another. The glitz, the glamour, the sarcasm, the showmanship—that’s what I gravitated to.”

Practice. Repeat. Practice. Repeat.

“When I’m doing a solo tour, I’m my own writer, director, producer, and star, so I don’t get stage fright. But when I’m working with groups of people and we’re dealing with a script, that’s hard for me. I’m always paranoid that I’m going to forget my lines. For me, repetition is really the best way to get over being nervous. Once it’s ingrained in your body, you may still think you don’t know it backstage, but once you get out there it clicks.

Don’t worry about the hecklers

“In real life, we don’t have those situations anymore. It’s all on social media. I go back to a time when if someone hated you, they had to tell you to your face. Now it’s a phantom person you’ve never met putting out some horrible statement. They’ll never say it to your face. So unless they’re your mother or your politician, you shouldn’t be concerned.”

Surround yourself with people who know you and what it’s all about—not yes-people 

“My assistant has been my friend for over 25 years, and he still makes me carry my own luggage. He doesn’t tell me I’m pretty; he doesn’t think I’m talented; he doesn’t think I’m smart. That’s what keeps you humble and grounded. When I’m doing a tour like I’m doing right now, I always say, ‘No one should be making more money than me, but no one should be working harder than me.'”

It’s never too late to …

“Some of the best things that have happened in my life happened much later. Something that shifted my life was “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and I was 38 at the time. The things that got me through it were the experiences that I had. All those years working in some shitty bar with no dressing room paid off in the end.”

You have to toot your own horn

“You’ve got to know your own self-worth. It’s important to be honest with yourself. If there’s something about yourself that you don’t like, you’ve got to work on it. Achieving self-love is very, very important. You know, there’s a drag queen somewhere who says, ‘If you can’t love yourself, how are you going to love anybody else?’ I can’t remember her name. But sometimes we do need to apply that.”

Have your own maxim

“No matter what anybody says or tries to do to you, never get angry, never get upset. Always remember that one day they’re gonna die. That always makes me feel better.”


This story was produced by Backstage and reviewed and distributed by Stacker Media.