Plastique Tiara has wowed fans ever since she first stepped into the werkroom in RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 11. Now that she’s back for RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 9, Tiara said she’s glad to be back after she’s established herself as TikTok royalty.

“You know, during the pandemic, we didn’t have much to do. So I really took it to TikTok to blossom, and it’s definitely great to have recognition among my peers and everyone else afterward,” she told Blavity’s Shadow and Act. “That’s why this season is so special because we all have made our careers and made our mark in the Drag Race through the Drag Race franchise. So going back definitely was so much fun.”

Part of what has made Tiara’s social media glow-up pop is her focus on her Asian heritage, specifically her Vietnamese heritage. Almost every look Tiara showcases online is influenced by her love for Asian cultures and artistry, including anime. Her Sailor Moon cosplays have a particular special resonance with anime fans and drag fans alike because the Sailor Starlights, a group of Sailor Scouts introduced in later seasons, are typically described as men who transform into female superheroes. In other translations of the story, the Sailor Starlights are closer akin to being trans.

Tiara brought her Sailor Starlights and Sailor Moon cosplay to the main stage, with her Starlights costume taking center stage during the “Drag Queens Save the World” performance. She said that for her, Sailor Moon was a way to leave her reality behind.

“I think, growing up, watching anime and watching Sailor Moon was definitely my escape from society or my family. The show really empowered femininity, something I was afraid to show to the world. And so watching the show, it was very much an awakening for me,” she said.

“I’ve adored anime for a long time because of the imaginative storyline created by Asian artists and from perspectives of Asian artists and the characters,” she continued. “I love that the characters often are underdogs and then overcoming their fears and eventually achieve their ultimate form. That’s what I always envision for myself as a person. So I was happy to bring those characters to life for sure. And Sailor Moon in particular was the first anime, I think, ever to have drag characters, the Sailor Starlights, on there. So I said there was no other character that was befitting for this role for ‘Drag Queens Save the World.'”

Tiara said she feels it’s important to showcase her Vietnamese culture in her drag because, as she said, she denied her culture in a quest to assimilate.

“I think going back, I really wanted to showcase my culture and where I come from. It was so long in my life that I had to assimilate in order to fit into the culture when I moved here from Vietnam,” she said. “I spent so much time just trying to assimilate and be considered as normal, when in the meantime I should have been celebrating myself and where I come from and how being different makes me a standout. And so I chose this time to really explode, in that sense. And if I’m not going to do it, who else would?”

Not only is Tiara showcasing more of her culture this time around on Drag Race, but she’s also showcasing more of her humor. She has already impressed the judges with her ability to go fully into character and land expert-level jokes. Tiara said that she wasn’t able to show much of her humor in her original season because of the language barrier she experienced.

“I was learning a new language, which is really hard, and English is one of the hardest languages to learn for me. So for a bit in my life, I never understood the humor and the references and other things of that nature,” she said. “So as I progress through life and progress through Drag Race, I’ve learned a little bit more of the language and become a little bit more well-versed in the references. So it was good to come back and showcase that I can, you know, the way that I would talk to my peers or my colleagues outside of work and how we would just joke and have fun with each other. So it was good to showcase that on a larger format.”

Tiara has been in the top several times this season and, thankfully, she hasn’t been cut by the Ruby Snippers yet. Tiara said that the twist has made playing “definitely difficult.”

“I just had to be in the top every week. That was my strategy. And, you know, having good relations with all the girls,” she said. “But it’s definitely something fun to have in the mix for sure. It definitely motivated me to just do better every single week.”

Tiara’s success this season puts her in good standing to win the $200,000 grand prize for her charity of choice, the Asian American Foundation. She discussed how the foundation helped protect Asian Americans during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

“As an Asian American drag queen, I felt that it was more of my responsibility to represent this charity on RuPaul’s Drag Race because it’s a charity that was formed during the pandemic. This charity was formed because there was a lot of anti-Asian hate going around during the time and we needed to save ourselves,” she said. “They have donated millions of dollars into funds in order to help teach AAPI history in school and to provide grants and promote Asian talents on the Hollywood stage. So there was no other foundation that I could have hoped for to represent.”

RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 9 streams Fridays on Paramount+.