2020 Canada Drag Race winner Queen Priyanka hasn’t missed a beat in the past 4 years since making drag race history and she doesn’t show signs of slowing down anytime soon. Preparing to release her debut album “Devastatia” this August followed by a world tour, it’s evident we all must bow down to the queen! If you want to learn all about how Queen Priyanka got to this point, keep reading below:


What was it like growing up in Toronto? How has your upbringing influenced who you are today?   

Well, I grew up in Whitby, ON, a small suburb outside Toronto. It was wild growing up in a suburb – I think we were like 1 of 2 POC families on our street. To be honest, I didn’t even know the difference until my neighbor called me brown and I started crying. My Mom was like…why are you crying?  

I was like BECAUSE HE CALLED ME BROWN and she literally had to break it to me that I was brown. I thought I was like everybody else in Whitby, but when I was told I was different I freaked out. Nowadays when someone tells me I’m different – I celebrate it. It’s difficult growing up in a town where everyone is 9-5-ing it and just following the rules to grow up, get a wife, start a family …I always dreamed of something BIGGER and I’m currently living in it…as I write this from LA!  

You won the very first season of Canada’s Drag Race back in 2020. What made you want to be a part of this show? Talk to us about your favorite moments, what was most difficult about it and how you felt once you won.   

 OH YES, I DID! What a dream that show was. I’ll never forget when I saw the audition for Season 1 – I said to myself “my life is going to change.” Literally whispered it to myself while at my old Kids TV job. The best part was – everyone around me also knew my life was going to change too. At that time – I was finally winning. I spent all my life either coming last, not placing or not really being the ‘main’ focus of many projects. 

 Once I started drag it was like my entire life blew up and I finally got to be the winner I worked so hard to be. Before Drag Race I won 2 pageants, released 2 singles, and right before I went to film Drag Race was named “Best Local Drag Performer”.  

 My drag mother Xtacy Love always says, “Even without Drag Race you’d still be doing exactly what you are doing today”. I wanted to do the show because it just felt SO RIGHT. Quitting my Kids TV job to do it was a bit scary, but my biological mom aka MomYanka said “F*ck it, go follow your dreams, life is short”!

My favorite moment EVER was lip syncing “I Drove All Night” against Kiara. I still (4 years later) get tagged in that lip sync. I love performing so much, it’s what sets my soul on fire, so although I did a bad Snatch Game, I was happy that I got to show everyone what I normally do, perform…not improv as a fortune teller LOL! I remember when I threw that wedding dress off the stage, I still vividly remember thinking “I could win this thing.”  

Winning was ALL I COULD EVER ASK FOR. To be honest, when I left, I thought Rita Baga was going to take it. I had just convinced myself that the first winner would be French-Canadian and that was that. But when I saw how fans really started to like me…I was like OH WOW. All the self-doubt I had totally went away.  

After I won, my friend Meisha who I used to host Kids TV with called me and said, “Okay so now that your dreams have come true, it’s time to find more dreams to come true”. I remember having my breath taken away from me because I felt like it was the best thing for someone to ever say to me.  

What EXACTLY is going to happen after the crown?! This is when I had months and months of thinking, tequila and partying, and then realized that I had the power to live out my dream as a popstar. It felt crazy to say out loud but so many fans wrote to me feeling so happy that they saw themselves on TV, so I felt like it was my duty to keep having the nerve to carve out more space for myself in music.  


Before you were a part of Canada’s Drag Race you were a kids television host for about 10 years. What made you want to transition into doing drag after building your career for so many years?   

I felt so lucky to be a TV host in Canada – there are not many jobs right now in the Canadian media industry, so I just felt so grateful. The problem was being a TV host for a Kids TV corporation has many rules. Guys can’t wear wigs or girl clothes, you can’t talk about romance, etc. Getting put into a box was a normal feeling and when I fell in love with Drag after fearing it for so many years, I started to realize that I am an artist.  

A creator who has thoughts and dreams that wants to make it into art. Not someone who keeps talking about Spongebob Squarepants – although Spongebob is the best lol. I used to go out to Crews & Tangos, Woodys, O’Gradys all the time once I moved to the Gay Village in Toronto with my friend Amanda. She was a godsend. Meeting her was so important to me finding myself. She was there by my side in all the gay bars dancing to the Fifth Harmony choreography on the dance floor and sometimes on stage with the Drag Queens.  

Once I fell in love with my community and fell in love with some weird men who Amanda would tell me to not date – lol! I booked a drag queen named Xtacy Love for my birthday party. She was MAGICAL, BEAUTIFUL and just made everyone feel loved in the room. When she performed at my birthday party – she suggested I do drag. I was like NO WAY, I would NEVER. But after I watched her perform Little Mix’s “Black Magic” in my living room and saw how HAPPY she was.  

I realized that was the kind of happiness that I wanted to feel. It didn’t matter where she was, she was moved by the power of drag and music whether on stage or dancing on carpet in someone’s living room. That was enough for me to say…guess I’m gonna switch careers!  

You’ve said that you named yourself Priyanka to represent your Indo-Queer West Indian heritage whenever you’re on stage. Talk to us more about how you take influences from your culture into your identity as Queen Priyanka.   

YES! I wanted everyone to know that a brown girl was coming on stage. My mom named me and my 3 brothers “Steve, Mike, Mark, Chris.” She said she gave us all white people names so we wouldn’t get bullied in school. At first it felt like a funny joke – I also wanted names like Nick and Andrew growing up. When I got older, I realized how many immigrants change their name to fit into North American communities which is VERY messed up, especially since all those people love the word ‘charcuterie” – like don’t be acting like “Avinash” is hard to say!  

I have a beautiful South Asian fanbase that really are so proud of me. They are fans of me, but also see me as their older sister who they are VERY protective of. I want them to see Bollywood, South Asian skin, and our culture in the mainstream shows they watch. I remember being in math class in 4th grade obsessing over a movie called Kahbi Kushie Khabi Ghum – and listening to the soundtrack on my headphones at -1DB volume. When someone asked me what I was listening to I would say Britney Spears. I want to cut down the shame South Asian people have. I want them to be proud to listen to their Bollywood favorites and bring their curry to school!  

You’re set to be one of the hosts of the 4th season of HBO’s Emmy Award-winning series, “We’re Here”. Talk to us about your experience working on this show and what viewers have to look forward to this season.   

Being a host on HBO’s “We’re Here” was NOT on my bingo card. I couldn’t believe that they took a chance on a Canadian. It was such an incredible experience where we really got to explore what it’s like being a queer or trans person in America. Let me tell you – it’s not easy. It was so shocking to see things you’ve seen on TikTok being played out right in front of your eyes. I had to pinch myself often to be like…is this a nightmare? 

I made it my mission to have difficult conversations but also to bring joy. A lot of people call “We’re Here” the trauma show. I want people to watch it this season, cry and laugh because there are such chaotic moments!  

On top of all the great things you’re doing, you’re also a musician. As you prepare for your debut album this fall, you just released your first single “No New Friends”. Talk to us about what we can expect from your album and the inspiration behind your new song.   

RIGHT?!! Also, I dreamed of the day people would refer to me as a musician. My grandparents were famous Guyanese singers and my entire family including my dad were DJs so music was always around me! “No New Friends” is SUCH a banger. I listen to it, and I can’t believe it’s my song to be honest.  

I met my match with Executive Producer of my album Josh Cumbee (Sabrina Carpenter, Madonna, BoA, Girls Generation) in our first session together where I came in and said, “I want to write a happy song” and he said, “How do we feel about the phrase NO NEW FRIENDS” and I was like “nah I don’t really feel that way”.  

But like any human we have some dark demons that we had to suppress to get through our day. Sizzy Rocket, who is also a co-writer, and I got to work while Josh worked on the production and made it an anthem about loving yourself – giving a big F you to those who don’t want to see you succeed – the ones who see your success as their failure and try to bring you down! I also got to say – it has a little bit of “Gangsta’s Paradise” energy in it and I AM HERE FOR THAT.  

The Album is a BEAST. I’ve been working on it since 2022 and wrote like 40 songs for it. In the selection, we ended up picking all songs that were all about being accidentally iconic. I remember when I was younger my next-door neighbor called me obnoxious. I was so offended and sad, I told myself that I needed to be quieter and to filter myself because I was “too much”.  

I know a lot of my fans feel this way so I wanted anthems that they can sing in the shower, dance around in their house, blast in cars, and sing with me on tour that lets them know that they cannot be tamed! It’s okay to have a Godzilla-sized personality and be a hard-working diva with their shit together. You’re a star – own it!  

Your first EP “Taste Test” features 5 songs like “Snatch,” “Come Through” and “Bitch I’m Busy.” For anyone who’s never listened to your music, what is the first song they should listen to from this EP?   

OU!! This is a great question. I would say “Bitch I’m Busy” is the perfect FIRST song to listen to. It eases you into the high-production, ferocious, club bangers that are on the rest of the EP.  

You just released your new single, “Shut It Down”. Talk to us about the process of making this song and where you got the inspiration to create it from.  

I cannot believe I wrote this song in 2022! What a rough year that was for me. I didn’t realize it was rough until I wrote this song haha. I walked into the studio and just had a clear goal of breaking into the music industry with music that sounded like me – real with a Bollywood twist.  

Then when we started to get into the weeds of it, all this trauma started to come up. I didn’t realize I was so hurt by things that have happened; by the way people have treated me. But I didn’t want to have to TOLERATE it. Being a push-over my whole life because I was just trying to fit in was exhausting. So, I had to write this song to set the boundaries cause now I have a no-toxic tolerance! 

You’ve spoken about being of Guyanese descent and how LGBTQ people can be killed there for being gay. How have you navigated your sexuality with your family who come from this culture where it’s not acceptable to be gay? What is the LGBTQ community like in Guyana?   

I feel like I cheated the system because of Drag Race. During the pandemic is when Canada’s Drag Race Season 1 aired. In September 2020, after I was crowned, my uncle passed away. At his funeral, I was certain that my West Indian family would just ignore the fact that I dress up as a woman and keep it moving. I was SHOCKED that so many uncles, aunties, cousins, grandmas, grandpas were saying that they watched, and they were SO proud of me. 

 It made me realize that I had to give more people the chance to be more open-minded, but also approach things with a no big deal approach. Easier said than done, but it was good for my dad to see that no one judges his son for being successful. That’s the thing about West Indian culture – if they didn’t care about what people thought, no one would care that I was gay or a drag queen. But we all know when the uncles are having their drinks and playing dominoes and the aunties are in the living room walking about which Bollywood star is hotter, they are also gossiping about everyone and judging everyone, which makes it hard for a lot of parents to accept their children.  

No one wants to be the family with the gay son because it would make their family look bad. That’s before we even bring in the layer of religion. I am so happy and grateful my family took it in stride. There’s been some comments, but because I now consider myself Godzilla and won’t take no shit, I also just answer honestly and usually share too much information. But I will say my experience is not like a lot of other people. Before I was able to be 100% comfortable with myself, I had to find a community that I could talk to. You find yourself faster by surrounding yourself with people who you trust. It took me over two decades to find my tribe.  

When you’re not Queen Priyanka you are dressed as your alter ego Mark. Talk to us about the main differences between Priyanka and Mark who feels more like you naturally.   

Oh wow, no one has ever called my alter ego MARK – usually it’s the other way around. Honestly, I feel like I am the same person in and out of drag. I’m still a sexy saucy little slut when I’m out of drag and when I’m in drag I’m still the boy who wants to binge eat Doritos on my couch. I never wanted drag to feel like a ‘mask’ or a burden to put on – so I made sure I still stay ME in both forms.  

By doing drag you’re constantly changing your look depending on the theme or your mood. What are some of your favorite makeup products that help you achieve the most beautiful looks?   

OneSize setting powders and setting spray, Dermablend Foundation, Charlotte Tilbury Water Cream and Magic Serum, Chanel Undereye Serum is ACTUALLY magical, Jean-Luc Cosmetics liquid lipsticks, SHISEIDO red lip + nude lip, TomFord eyeliner (shout out to OneSize eyeliner too), Norvina Eye-Shadow Palettes, Morphe brushes, Beauty Blenders, Juvia Place Blush, Dior Highlighter mixed with Charlotte Tilbury Highlighter mixed with One-Size highlighter (I know I use three).  

When I’m out of drag SHISEDO foundation, BENEFIT brow products & Fenty lip gloss of course! And I can’t forget my ELF Pout Clout Lip Plumping Pen!

For anyone looking to follow in your footsteps and enter the drag world, what are a few things you’ve learned over the years that you wish you knew when you were first starting out?   

It’s so good to be hard on yourself in terms of learning and growing but LET YOURSELF be “bad at drag.” It’s so good to start from a place and watch yourself grow. People want it all so fast, but you have to show a journey, take pointers, work on your art.  

It takes time. I also learned that Drag isn’t a job – it’s a culture and a community so immerse yourself in it and go see other drag shows and support other artists! Don’t do drag because you want to be on Drag Race – do it because the artist in you has something beautiful to share!  

How do you take care of your mental health?   

THERAPY! I used to be one of those girls that said, “who needs therapy?” Well, I know who needed it – ME! Being someone who has had A LOT of ups and downs in the last 5 years, being able to process things properly and put to bed the anger we carry with ourselves all the time, feels so good.  

There are a lot of people that expect things out of friendships that they don’t voice, are friends with you for the wrong reasons, or think you’ve changed, when in fact you have because you’re growing as a human being. People who want you to basically stay where they are comfortable because your growth makes them feel uncomfortable.  

It’s tough to have to balance if you did something wrong or if they did something wrong or if you’ve outgrown a relationship. There is so much guilt that you can carry as someone in the spotlight, but the ride or dies will always give you grace as long as you give them grace and show up for them when they need it.  

As a multifaceted star, how do you bring your artistic vision to life? Do you create mood boards, journal your ideas or pull inspiration from somewhere specifically. Walk us through your process.   

Okay, so the truth is I have so much inspiration bookmarked, but for whatever reason when I am creating, I ALWAYS FORGET TO GO BACK TO LOOK AT IT. A lot of the music and art I’ve created reflects how I’m feeling right then. I have a fun team of photographers, stylists, makeup artists, and my boyfriend who I call and process things with. 

 I feel like every artist who reads this will agree with me when I say WHEN YOU KNOW YOU KNOW. I had this idea for a single cover in my head that I didn’t make come to life because I put too much pressure on it, but then an alternate cover I shot I just KNEW it wasn’t right. So, 3 days before “No New Friends” came out, I re-shot it and made it what my original vision was because I did NOT want to live knowing I didn’t like it!  

Who is your dream musical collaboration?   

Pabllo Vittar would be first on my list. She’s a friend who often sends me voice notes calling me a FUCKING POPSTAR! Her support after all of the barriers she’s broken as the first drag performer to get nominated for a Grammy, play Coachella etc. – means a lot. She’s paved a lot of the way for performers like me and it takes a very solid ICON to be supportive.  

Also, Doja Cat, call me. Megan Thee Stallion, I need you. When Fifth Harmony reunites, I will be on that track, and Danity Kane needs to come back and if they don’t then I’ll just round up as many as I can and call us Danityanka.  

You appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 8 where you solidified yourself as the “Lip Sync Assassin”. What was it like to be around so many amazing drag star winners like yourself? Is there anything you learned from this experience that you applied to your own drag career?   

Meeting RuPaul for the first time was MAGICAL. I was so nervous and expecting her to not give a flying f*ck about a little diva from Canada. She treated me with all the respect in the world, made sure I had a good time and called me a WINNER BABY!  

I remember emailing World of Wonder asking them if I could be a Lip Sync Assassin. I figured I would shoot my shot because I’ve never been one to wait around for opportunities, you just got to go get them! Watching it back I felt like I didn’t do the BEST performance. It was cute but I was at such a different place in my life in 2022 – watching in 2024 made me realize how much a human can grow and change!  

What’s next for Queen Priyanka? What do you hope to accomplish this year that you haven’t already achieved?  

Pop superstar global domination??? I feel like that’s the only answer!  


Editor in Chief: Prince Chenoa (@princechenoastudio)

Feature Editor: Taylor Winter Wilson (@taylorwinter)

Photographer: Quinton Cruickshanks (@_qweenton)

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