‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ season 16 cast interviews preview twists


When asked to preview the goopery, gaggery, and all-out tomfoolery (and maybe even some rigga morris) of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 16, contestant Nymphia Wind simply grips her chair, vibrates a little, jerks her head back and forth, whips her hair, and squeals “What?!” in a guttural trance.

“Very that,” the Taiwanese queen tells EW, settling back into her seat, knowing her temporary moment of demonic possession spoke more for the season ahead than words ever could.

As fun as Nymphia’s assessment is, her fellow queens elaborate on the twists and turns in store for the 14 new contestants set to compete on the Main Stage — and it sounds like the Werk Room is going to get spicier than ever for Drag Race‘s sweet season 16.

“Rotted, mean, fun,” Brooklyn-based performer Dawn sums up of season 16, licking her finger for extra emphasis. [There will be] tears, apologies, non-apologies, and maybe even a bitch slap or two. Just kidding.”

Or is she?

‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ season 16 cast of queens.


“Get ready for a lot of shade. I don’t want to say backstabbery, I’m trying to think of a cuter word, that’s bad. Okay, well, there’s a lot of that. There’s a lot of going for the throat,” adds Mirage, a Las Vegas showgirl reared on the legendary Las Vegas stages of Piranha next to Yara Sofia and Anetra. “There’s a lot of honesty. We’re very honest with each other, about the things that we dislike about each other’s faces and bodies.”

In other words, Untucked is about to be epic — but, so are the twists to the format.

“They shook us to the left and then shook us back to the right, and then dropped us” says Hershii LiqCour-Jeté — drag sister to season 14’s legendary Kornbread — says, while New York City’s Megami offers perhaps the most exciting insight yet into the alteration to Drag Race‘s signature format that looks to the past as much as it sets the Main Stage for a new future for its competing queens.

EW’s exclusive interviews with the cast of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ season 16.


“For the twists and turns, we’re bringing some good old Drag Race classics back that the fans have kind of been asking for, but also, there’s a few new ones. It’s a good mix,” Megami explains. “Regardless of being on it, this is my favorite show of all time. I am an internet goblin for this show, on Reddit and everything — this is going to be a fan-favorite season. The cast is so f—ing amazing. We literally all came out the gate gunning for this prize. It’s an intense season, but also probably one of the best Drag Race has ever put on. I say that as a fan and Redditor myself.”

RuPaul’s Drag Race season 16 premieres Friday, Jan. 5 at 8 p.m. on MTV. Watch EW’s exclusive interviews with the new queens ahead.

Editor’s note: EW’s interviews with the season 16 queens were filmed in August 2023, prior to MTV’s Dec. 6 cast reveal.

Amanda Tori Meating

When you come to an Amanda Tori Meating show, prepare for two things: “You’ll probably get a boner,” she promises. “But, you also might get robbed.”

The fun of exploring Amanda’s repertoire of kooky comedy slicked up in ‘80s pop star glitz is not knowing what you’re in for. The New York City queen looks like a dolled-up executive primed to swindle your savings via charm and a multi-million-dollar investment scandal, while underneath she’s ready to show her smutty side.

“I basically just think, what would make my mother blush?” Amanda explains to EW of her approach to the craft, which, in the past, included a Barbarella-inspired photoshoot in which she held a ray gun made from her “personal dildo,” to an epic mix on stage where she, uh, farted along to a medley of Britney Spears’ “Oops! I Did it Again,” Kesha’s “Blow,” and audio from the infamously vile bathroom scene from Bridesmaids.

Such a number is an apt showcase for her wide-ranging interests in drag. She calls herself “bisexual and bicoastal,” after having lived and worked in Los Angeles before planting herself in New York, but even that descriptor is a bit — she’s not really bisexual, but she’ll sacrifice her credibility to put a smile on your face, because she’s a stage-reared performer at heart.

With both live vocal prowess and theatrical experience (she proudly reveals that she played “Angel No. 3” in a touring production of Kinky Boots), you might think Amanda is coming for the BFA weaponizer crown, but she balks at the thought. 

“I’m a reformed theater girl,” she stresses. “I’m more like the BFA dissector. Put it back together in hot glue, in a different formation, so it’s more like an AFB.” And what does AFB stand for? “Absolutely f–-able butt,” she reveals — because, in Amanda’s executorial agenda, of course it does.


A new Dawn is upon us, and season 16’s resident weirdo isn’t sure whether you should be excited or terrified. 

“Am I evil or am I fun? I don’t know. Chaotic? I’ll take that,” the Brooklyn-based queen tells EW, after she was informed that several cast mates labeled her a nefarious presence haunting the episodes ahead. “I think this cast is giving evil and fun, but never nasty…. We all are sisters, we love each other very, very much, but we know how to poke and prod and have some fun together.”

The only clues about the potential beast within, though, are actually painted right on Dawn’s face, as a sort of roadmap to what makes her tick. She’s a fan of dramatic exaggeration, often sporting elf ears (yes, pierced with fine jewelry) and horns to hot dog fingers like the ones Michelle Yeoh sported in Everything Everywhere All at Once — except Dawn once extended hers down to the floor, which posed a problem in the moment, but she worked (and was fierce) in the end.

To label her as merely the oddball of the cast is a disservice to the purpose behind her art, which stems from a deeply rooted desire to escape her reality and create a real-world fantasy of solace for her childhood self.

“I got really worn down by how boring everything is, and I was like, wait, I don’t have to want to live in the fantasy world, I can just live in the fantasy world, so, I just do,” she says, adding that she went through dark periods of anxiety and a “conglomeration of a couple of different neuroses” as a kid.

She escaped, years ago, by dressing in a friend’s closet filled with Limited Too originals after she turned three, and later even put on her first full drag number set to SpongeBob’s “Ripped Pants” accompanied by, of course, a ripped-pants reveal at age eight. Now, she often channels her feelings and emotional trauma into song lyrics she lip-syncs to on stage, creating a “beautifully distressed” feeling to compliment the untamed nature of her look.

But, what’s the definitive source of her vision? “To be honest with you, I have no f—ing idea,” she says — and that’s where the beauty of her artistry crystallizes. From looking to work out youthful angst, to simply letting loose while dragging foot-long sausage fingers across the floor at the bar, she’s ready to let the world watch as she tries to figure it out.

Geneva Karr

Geneva Karr’s excellence is so thick, you can literally trace your finger through it — or in her leg hair.

Sometimes it takes an hour per stem, sometimes two, but Geneva is committed to the craft of styling her furry limbs with hair gel. “One day I was like, what if I could just, like, style it and make it kind of fashion?” she muses to EW. For any given show, it’s done up in spikes. For other occasions, it might be ocean waves and butterflies. No matter what shape she choses, it rounds out her signature aesthetic that challenges everything you think you know about pageant queens.

Born in Mexico and currently living in Brownsville, Tex. Geneva is all about pushing boundaries and defying expectations, whether it’s through drag or simply becoming a businesswoman success story after moving to the United States at age 7.

“I try to incorporate my culture and where I come from into everything I do,” she explains. “Since I’m Mexican — the first Mexican-born drag queen on the [American version of the] show — I want to showcase all of that.”

It’s not strictly serious for Geneva, even though she’s also a hair mogul — the top of head kind — with her own wig business. Just like the image of a pageant queen lifting up her skirt to expose the most beautiful forest of leg hair art you’ve ever seen, she’ll pull you in with her alluring, familiar mix of “drama, big hair, and makeup,” like her sisters on the circuit (a group that includes season 15’s Mistress Isabelle Brooks) — and gut punch you with a monumental gag on stage. Like, for example, she recreated a scene from Matilda on stage, swinging around a blonde-haired doll by its pigtails and tossing it into the audience, all while dressed as Miss Trunchbull.

“It always has to be big, over the top, and energy,” she says. “Splits, kicks, dips, and, hopefully, I get back up.” Perhaps she can bring our jaws with her.

Hershii LiqCour-Jeté

Hershii LiqCour-Jeté is living her American Dream.

From competing in her first drag show in St. Louis with a $1 eyeshadow palette to conquering new digital frontiers (she has 2.7 million likes on TikTok) and holding court on mainstream stages of Los Angeles — where she is raising two children with her partner — Hershii has fought for her place in the spotlight. 

“It was drag before I knew I was a drag queen,” Hershii tells EW of her childhood penchant for making parodies while donning wigs and costumes, which she learned how to wear from watching Tyler Perry as his iconic Madea character — all while being raised in a strict religious household. She says she spent “all day and all night” making YouTube videos, exploring characters, and honing her craft to become the artist she is today.

Outside of being an artist, Hershii is also an activist, championing equality and fair pay for herself and her sisters — sometimes, she says, to the chagrin of queens from older generations. 

That charismatic boldness, though, caught the eye of season 14’s Miss Congeniality, Kornbread, who pursued Hershii for a spot in Calypso Jeté’s legendary house after seeing her compete in only one show. 

The family dynamic among the Jetés is a formidable one, and Hershii balances it with her maternal instincts as she raises her own children at home. 

“I’m mostly a night queen, and my kids wake up early,” she jokes, laughing at the thought of waking up in the morning to apply makeup as often as she pours bowls of Cheerios for her children. She’s gained a significant amount of attention — and pushback — online for being both a drag artist and a parent to her adorable youngsters, and when the criticism creeps its way into her subconscious, she just remembers the things that really matter, that ground her heart in the foundation of her true home. 

“[My children] taught me that the only people that have questions are the adults that are confused, because the kids never have a problem with it,” she explains. “I remember the first time my daughter looked at me [in drag], it was like, okay, this is right. She was peering behind the mirror, and I said, ‘Oh, she thinks I’m beautiful.’”

So, when you inevitably find yourself screaming “mother” at the TV when Hershii pops up on season 16, just know the word has multiple meanings for this star in the making — and she’s ready to embody them all.


Megami is an artist caught between two worlds — or maybe even multiple universes, at this point.

Self-described as “New York City’s thick Latina cosplay goddess,” the Brooklyn native is fine with labels, as she’s planted herself firmly — and beautifully — within several different demographics, on Earth or otherwise. 

“I like to be a chameleon, I like to adapt to any situation,” she tells EW of her drag, which is part pop culture cosplay (she loves Sailor Moon, particularly), part cultural tribute to her own Puerto Rican heritage, and it’s all — always — on point. “I want to live my full experience as a human being as an artist and be able to go into any different area and just explore it. That’s kind of the magic of drag and being a queer person in general. We’re not bound by the same rules that society wants us to be.”

What Megami wants to be, it seems, is everything all at once. In the past, she’s channeled a mix of inspirations, from Spice Girls to Barbie and a slutty Bowser (excuse me, “Bowsette”) primed for a raunchy evening with other Super Mario Bros. characters. She’s also fronted a one-woman, 10-minute theatrical production referencing every season of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Yeah, Megami is that level of Comic-Con geek — and she’s proud of it. In fact, the first title she won as a drag queen was the Gay Geeks of New York cosplay competition, and it set the stage for her head in the clouds (and galaxies) above.

“If you think cosplaying is just going to Party City and getting a cheap nylon stretch costume, it’s not that. Cosplayers can make the impossible possible,” she says. “I hope people learn to not under-estimate cosplayers because we can do anything. There are a lot of geeky things that speak to queer people, as being outcasts, which is another kind of geek in society. There’s a lot of crossover, and I hope I can represent where it meets in the middle.”

Mhi’ya Iman Le’Paige

To find Mhi’ya Iman Le’Paige, you’ll most likely have to look up. Into the rafters… or the pole scaling the side of the building… or maybe on the ceiling. 

“I just go with the flow,” the Miami queen tells EW, coolly accepting praise for her aerial acrobatics that have become staples of her live performances — the most impressive of which has seen her climb a beam in the middle of a bar, drop through the air, and catch herself (yes, on the same beam) with only the strength of her crossed legs. “I’m a risk-taker, I just do whatever.”

Mhi’ya believes that her talent is natural. Second-nature, if you will. It’s so effortless, in fact, that her most jaw-dropping stunt (she enlisted a driver to pull up to the front of the bar, climbed on top of the vehicle, and flipped into a split on the concrete below) left her without a scratch. “I’ve never been injured,” she says. 

The same can’t be said for those who, if things don’t go her way, might face-crack if ever tasked with lip-syncing against her in the competition. She quickly affirms that her season 16 sisters should be very afraid, and, when asked if she embraces the “Dancing Diva of the Season” title, immediately responds in the affirmative. 

She is, after all, a queen whose record number of consecutive flips in one show stands at 15. Thus, her self-given (and rightly earned) title is “Queen of Flips,” and it might mean more than just physical maneuvers. As the granddaughter of season 13’s legendary Tamisha Iman, she confirms her foremother in drag absolutely passed down the Untucked gene through the bloodline, too.

Though she’s succeeded on the pageant circuit, Mhi’ya dislikes the rigga morris she feels pervades that sector of the industry. But, you know, that doesn’t stop her from winning. 

“I was doing pageants because people wanted me to do them,” she says, ever so sweetly. “Because I have talent, and talent plays a part in pageantry. So, I kind of just did it, just because.” Even if she doesn’t win season 16, it’s apparent that confidently wearing her own crown is a skill Mhi’ya got used to a long time ago.


Mirage’s journey to supreme drag artistry began atop a legendary canvas: her face.

“It was an accident, completely not even my idea,” the Las Vegas vision tells EW of her first time in drag, crediting her drag mother, Devi Amuro, with identifying her mug as a divine surface of excellence and going to work on it. “She did it on my face and I looked in the mirror and I said, ‘It’s over. It’s over for you hoes. This is me, now.’ And I’ve been doing drag ever since.”

You could say that makes her first name a bit misleading, as she’s a real-life fantasy who doesn’t disappear upon further inspection, but rather gets infinitely more interesting up close, observing how she works a stage among Vegas legends at the Piranha nightclub.

There, she’s among the ranks of drag royalty like Hot Chocolate, season 3 and All Stars 1 and 6 queen Yara Sofia, and Mirage’s good Judy, Anetra, season 15 runner-up, purveyor of walking ducks, and an influential seamstress who helped her sister prepare for the season ahead — alongside input from Drag Race legend Alexis Mateo, who fashioned a gown for Mirage to wear on the runway.

She may have a formidable drag village helping to usher her into the spotlight, but Mirage is a self-taught, highly skilled dancer who will take your breath away via nucking and bucking on stage or twirling from chains hanging from the ceiling.

“Tequila helps,” she jokes of her high-flying maneuvers, adding that she has no formal training as a dancer, and that, like her face, it all comes naturally. “I like to bring a little bit of stripper, a little bit of heel clacking, some floor work, I like to roll around and clean up a little bit because the messy bitches always have to f— it up a little bit before I get out there,” she says. One look at her, and the sentiment holds with regards to the her-story of gals on the Main Stage, too.

Morphine Love Dion

Morphine Love Dion’s viral makeup skills are a prescription of excellence in the digital era, but, as her name suggests, the queen behind the exquisite mug forged a path to stardom by suffering for her art.

“I was at a show in Miami, and I didn’t know how to pin my wig,” she tells EW of the night baby Morphine crossed paths with drag legend Athena Dion, who eventually adopted her into the legendary House of Dion. “I’ve never felt so much intense pain in the back of my scalp, ever in my life…. She stabbed me, but the wig never came off. That’s when I knew she was my drag mother.”

And so, Morphine was reborn through the lens of the Dion Dynasty, and she soon took her talents global via the internet. With 30,000 subscribers on her YouTube account, Morphine reached influencer status by educating her followers on makeup and beauty.

She’ll also gladly school her competition on stage, as a trained dancer who’s determined to show her audience that look queens can also slap your jaw all the way down to the floor.

“I love to show skin, I love to be sexy, I’m literally a Latina showgirl,” the nonbinary entertainer says of her aesthetic, which was inspired by pop stars Kali Uchis, Shakira, and Jennifer Lopez — Morphine herself has also shared screen time with Latin stars, as she’s appeared in music videos for both Maluma and Bad Bunny.

Still, her obvious beauty doesn’t stop her from pushing boundaries with her makeup; as stunning as her face slathered in traditional hues and glitter, she’s also brought the house down in blue body paint as Mystique from the X-Men film series, bringing the Florida heat into the realm of geek culture without missing a beat.

And yet: “I’m not from Florida, I’m from Miami,” she jokes. “It’s a different state.” When Morphine’s on stage, it’s a new state of mind for all who gaze upon her, too.

Nymphia Wind

When you support the troops, you support Nymphia Wind. 

“I was basically sat all day in the office washing cars, doing nothing,” she jokes of her six months of mandatory military enrollment, which she conducted as part of the regional fire brigade while living in her home country of Taiwan. “Just sitting there, playing my Game Boy. Very hard at work, serving face.”

She may have finished her service, but she dutifully continues serving. She’s got all the basics covered: stunning mug, makeup mastery, and she’s got all the correct moves to turn out a show to top 40 hits in New York City, where she relocated in 2022. 

Suddenly, she’ll mix in a little dominatrix with a splash of death, blood, and brutality to make a drag cocktail that transcends everything you think you know about the medium.

“Despite my very joyful look with my drag, I’m actually quite dead inside,” Nymphia explains to EW, musing on her penchant for glammed-up techno decay as a means of exploring what it means to be alive — including past performances that have seen her play a sex robot “brutalized and struggling” at the mercy of a group of men around her. “I feel like that’s kind of a sense of rebirth. You’re cutting off the dead weight, the process of dying, getting rebirth from the ashes. There’s something beautiful in death for me.”

And then there are days when she just wants to, you know, slather herself in her signature color palette of sun-kissed shades of yellow (her favorite color), and stick an adorable stuffed banana (with eyes) into her bra as a companion for the day.

Outside of her quirkier side, Nymphia also likes to root her drag in cultural references, reminding her audience of her roots as she blossoms on stage.

“As an Asian drag queen I need to represent my own traditions and culture, and fuse that with my drag,” she explains. “I feel it’s important to stand out by combining my own culture with my drag to create a fusion of the past and the future.”

Wherever she’s going, we’re at attention. 

Plane Jane

Plane Jane is the type of girl who can explain flatulence with the academic prowess of an Ivy League professor. 

It all becomes clear scrolling through the Boston queen’s Instagram page, where you’ll become enveloped by her classic beauty, gazing upon gorgeous imagery that’s captioned with verbiage like “holding in a shart,” among other things.

“I love poop humor. A drag queen kind of needs to be a jack of all trades, and that includes being both glamorous and c—, and also funny,” Plane tells EW. “That’s what I try to bring to the table, just everything that I want to see in a drag queen.”

Her vision was that of a “put-together bitch from the beginning” of her career, which began a mere five years ago when she donned a catsuit, a shake-and-go wig, and pure charisma while performing “Did It on ‘Em” by Nicki Minaj. 

“I pulled out a — am I allowed to say dildo? A dildo,” she says, feigning a demure attitude. “I felt like that bitch, and I did a lot of squatting during that number to really emulate s—-ing. The song is called “Did It on ‘Em,” so I really wanted to capture the essence of that song. I squatted, squatted, squatted down, there was so much squatting in that number. But it was great, the audience, I had their full attention and support, and they just made it rain on me.”

You might’ve already guessed, but there’s no “typical” performance when it comes to Plane’s art. She’s one of the oddballs of the season 16 sisterhood, but her brand of weird doesn’t always hit straight away. Sometimes, you might not even realize until about halfway through anything she says that whatever is coming out of her mouth is a complete fantasy.

Still, when asked to describe her aesthetic on stage, she takes the opportunity to tell a good story.

“Picture this, you’re seated front row at a dingy bar, you’re taking in the ambience, the smell — it smells a little like toe cheese — you’re looking at the stage, I come out, the most beautiful, stunning woman that you’ve ever seen in your entire life,” Plane says. “Then, she harks a glob of saliva into the palm of her hand, and starts slapping her bulbous labias protruding from her panty hose. That’s the essence of a Plane Jane show. You can’t help but be entranced by what you’re looking at. Just give me all your money.” 

Whether it’s real or born from the realm of fantasy, you know you’re in for a trip when Plane Jane is in the room.


Plasma’s BFA is locked, loaded, and ready for this self-described “menace” to weaponize her musical theater arsenal all over national television. 

“Unfortunately, I am that BFA girl that you suspected I was,” she tells EW, as if the gilded robe, feathered hat, and Liza-esque affect in her voice didn’t make it obvious enough that this New York City queen is about to serve us a historical treat.

Plasma basks in the throwback glamor of Broadway as a youthful drag queen exploring the classics on stage (we’re talking hardcore Chicago and Funny Girl vibes), and she owes it all to her grandmother, who got her hooked on the pop culture staples of yesteryear when she was just a kid. “I saw Wicked when I was 9, which really makes a lot of sense looking at me now,” she jokes.

She got her first taste of true stardom, however, while studying at the University of Oklahoma, where she competed in the Miss STI — that stands for Student Theater Initiative, thank you very much — competition, and brought down the house with a truly gag-worthy tribute to Marilyn Monroe.

“My father built me a two-foot-by-four-foot rolling sidewalk subway grate platform with a box fan on casters, and it plugged in backstage,” she recalls. “My backup dancers wheeled me around the theater as my skirt is blowing up. I probably looked like a dog in that makeup, but you couldn’t tell me  s—.”

You still can’t, actually. “I’m one of the only queens in New York doing the classic MGM, old Hollywood s—, but I also will mix it with contemporary references,” she explains of her shows. “For instance, I have a mix at home where I start with ‘The Lonely Goatherd’ from The Sound of Music and transition into ‘Throat Goat’ by Kim Petras. Mental health is very important.”

For Plasma, dolling up in the glitz of the past is second nature, though she’s honed sharp thoughts on the why of it all, beyond the simple glisten of her aesthetic.

“I love to turn the old, classic Hollywood tropes on their head. The women of that era were empowered by society, but they were completely destroyed by their immediate surroundings, and I think it’s important that we reclaim the narrative of glamor and comfort and awareness and openness,” she explains.

The talent is undeniable, but it’s the passionate perspective tying it all together that makes Plasma’s work the kind of art you can feel in your blood.


To make up for the lack of letters in her name, Q — just Q — operates on delectable fashion overload.

“I’m going to come in on stage and 20 minutes later, the rest of my train will probably follow in after me,” she tells EW. “I’m always about big, grandiose, and more is more. When people see a show with me, they remember me”

Until her personal debut in the mainstream spotlight, the ABCs of Q have largely played out on others. You’ve absolutely seen the Kansas City native’s work on TV before, as she’s designed on-air looks for fellow Missourians like season 12’s Widow Von’Du and Mo Heart on UK vs. the World and All Stars 4, and even worked with finalist Luxx Noir London on her rise to fame across season 15. Now, Q is ready to find herself — and a spot in the Drag Race season 16 finale.

Standing out comes easy for Q at this point, after fighting to monopolize her “very competitive” hometown scene with talent, as she and her drag coven, the House of Couture, dominate local nightlife, which consists of about three popular bars for performances.

She earned her place in the center of the stage by defying industry rules. She likes to work outside the box both on stage and on her body, adorning herself in costumes that channel everything from prehistoric pin-up girls to what can best be described as a demonic, possessed holi-gay elf on a shelf.

“My drag is not put in a box, it’s not just one type of way, I do all kinds of drags, and I do all of them very well,” she promises. “All these things coming together, that’s what makes me who I am.”

While Q possesses range no one can put a price on, don’t expect her to soften her competitive nature because she’s a domestic diva with a glistening ring on her finger. Yes, Q is a married woman, having met her husband in a specific online forum (hint: it wasn’t through Christian Mingle). He later proposed to her at a drag competition she didn’t end up winning, but still walked away with the most important prize of her life. Now, all she needs is the Drag Race crown to enter her lifelong honeymoon era.

Sapphira Cristál

When RuPaul says “step your p—y up,” Sapphira Cristál can scale hers to six octaves.

Never has a queen embodied the word “diva” more in Drag Race her-story than Philadelphia’s crown jewel of the stage, an operatic singer who hails from the same Houston performing arts high school — and church — as Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland. And she plans to bring that same energy to the Main Stage for a personal renaissance of her own. 

“Sapphira is the queen of big drag, she’s the grande dame diva, and by grande dame, I mean grand, like, really grand — as big as the drag can get, is what I’m doing,” she promises. “Opera is some of the original drag, it’s just big, it’s amazing, it’s extravagant, it’s eleganza, so I try to bring the opera to what we know as drag, and combine them.”

She’s also got a personality that hits as big as her voice, but not in the ways you’d expect. It’s more of a matriarchal aura that commands respect in her presence, whether she’s sitting across from you in an interview chair or demanding your attention on stage. 

“I’m so here, I’m present, I like to be here, I get high on the presence of other people,” she says — something she’s able to do now more than ever, after celebrating several years of sobriety with help from those around her, including close personal friend, drag sister, and season 11 contestant Honey Davenport, among others.

Sapphira cites marijuana as the worst of her past vices, and remembers making the decision to give it up once she felt it draining both her energy and her attention away from her craft. 

“I decided, I want more for my life than to just be sitting here on this couch. I want to be a household name, I want to be a star, and I’m not going to be able to do that if I’m relying on these crutches,” she recalls. Now she’s primed for her dream to come true as her run on season 16 introduces her to fans worldwide.

Xunami Muse

Xunami Muse is such a supermodel, that she considers her resting interview face a cover-girl pose. 

“Am I not already?” she jokingly asks EW when prompted to show off her modeling skills in the middle of our discussion — skills she’s put to good use for 12 years in the New York City fashion industry as both a stylist assistant (she worked on Naomi Campbell’s reality show The Face), collection coordinator, and agency-signed model. 

Yes, Xunami was born with a face that could win America’s Next Top Model, but that’s not stopping her from coming for the RuPaul’s Drag Race crown, too.

She’ll do it all with a powerful drag lineage lifting her up; after moving to the United States from Panama at age 13, she started her drag career in college, later being adopted by season 13 and All Stars 8 icon Kandy Muse into the same drag family as Aja and Dahlia Sin. And though she proudly bears the Muse name, she’s looking to make a singular name for herself. 

After joking that she’ll “rehabilitate Kandy’s image” on season 16, she asserts her presence as a singular force. “When you have such a loud voice, you’re the one that projects in the room, and there’s a lot of girls that are rowdy,” she says of her season 16 sisters. “You have to reel them in. Sometimes, I had to do that.”

She also “did that,” as the kids say, on stages across New York throughout her drag career. Inspired by the graceful extravagance of the ‘90s supermodel era, her aesthetic is always polished for a crowd, and she’s always mindful of the “gracefulness of how you move, how you walk, how you talk.” And then there are moments that defy expectation, like when “she gives a lot of breaking the fourth wall.” 

What exactly that means at a drag show versus on TV or in movies remains a mystery. “You’re going to have to come to a show to find out,” she teases. Saying her name next to the greats, however — Naomi, Tyra Cindy, Xunami — makes total sense with our Drag Race fantasy.

Subscribe to EW’s Quick Drag podcast for recaps of RuPaul’s Drag Race, including reactions from the cast, special guests, and more.

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