Los Angeles, California, USA
Symone knows she’s pretty. That’s clear when scrolling through her carefully curated Instagram grid studded with leggy editorials, or when, after you praise her looks within the first few minutes of meeting her, she tells you (with a wink) that it’s “so much fun — the most fun” being the most beautiful in all the drag land. But, like her dear friend Gigi Goode, Symone leans into a comfortable aesthetic so she can pull the rug out when you least expect it.
“People are always pretty and know how to put a look together, it’s easy to do that, so it’s always fun to flip it on its head,” says the Arkansas native, who recalls regularly (and gleefully) disrupting rural spaces with her friends in a town too small to contain the excellence simmering within. Like, for example, the time she stormed a Walmart while dressed as Whitney Houston, sat atop a pile of soft drink boxes, and posed while a companion snapped high-fashion shots. “You have to make your own fun, so we’d go out in drag in our looks and take pictures, disturb the peace, and poke fun at the madness that is Arkansas… only if to entertain ourselves.”
Although currently based in Los Angeles, Symone, 25, is the first “Drag Race” contestant to originally hail from Arkansas.
For Symone, listening to that maverick spark has allowed her to draw out the drag performer inside, not merely as a creative outlet, but as a reflection of her true self. It’s immediately clear that there’s less of a separation between drag “character” and genuine soul than with many of her peers. As an introverted child growing up in red-state America, Symone was admittedly shy, often retreating to her room to soak up pop cultural influences on TV. That lifeline to the outside world didn’t shape a constructed aesthetic as a costume as much as it drew out her true identity. “To me drag is not an escape,” Symone says. “It’s everything.”
She later found her drag family, the legendary House of Avalon, in Arkansas, and eventually followed them to Los Angeles, where she was able to thrive as a performer with the foundation of a chosen-family safe space — which, she says, made it easier to prepare for the biggest televised drag contest in the world thanks to a network of connections and, yes, opinions on how she should be. But in the end, Symone’s art is all about Symone, and doing things exactly as she wants, without compromise.
“I am stunning, gorgeous, beautiful! But a lot of people tend to think that’s all I’m able to do. You will definitely get the funnier, goofier side of Symone. I tend to let go when I’m in performance with more energy, more goofiness, and being completely myself. In drag and on stage, that’s the bitch right there,” she says, calling her signature facial and verbal contortions “Symoneisms” (partially inspired by Bette Midler’s performance in Hocus Pocus) that fans will soon grow to love. Like, for instance, the endearing vocabulary soup she uses to describe her trajectory so far: “It’s a journey not, it’s not a… destination. Journey, whatever, you know what I’m saying,” she says. “Just put the words together. It’s very much that.”
Source: EW Press write-up.
Known for being cast on "RuPaul's Drag Race" thirteenth season.
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