Sapphira Cristál knew she would be a finalist fighting for the RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 16 crown. Shortly after the season finale, she told Blavity’s Shadow and Act that it feels great to see her vision for herself come true.

“It feels amazing. … We all fought so hard to be here and I saw myself there from the beginning,” she said. “I saw myself there from before I even was cast. So it felt great to be in a place that I saw myself, [in] the way that I saw myself there.”

Cristál said that her confidence in herself and her drag comes from her experience within the art form. This experience is what a lot of fans saw and gravitated toward, and so many viewers felt like she was the one to beat right from her first Werkroom entrance.

“I’ve been doing drag for about 15 years. And if you don’t know who you are after doing drag or doing something for that long, it might be time to choose something different,” she said. “So I really felt very confident in what I had to bring. And I’m just very, very happy that everyone else saw that in me, and I felt very seen when people say that to me.”

That experience also resonated with RuPaul, who quickly struck up a rapport with Cristál. Many fans felt like the two acted like they were old friends, even though Cristál was a contestant on the show. Cristál said interacting with RuPaul was “wonderful.”

“[J]ust be able to volley with him and to be able to just enjoy the presence of someone who is so tapped in,” she said. “[It was] great just to be present. I think one of the reasons why it seemed that we had such a great rapport is because I’ve never met a stranger, and also just present and to be present with someone who has achieved such greatness is.”

“It’s really kind of like the desired thing so that you can really take in as much as possible. You just have to be there,” she continued. “It also makes them very much more comfortable to be able to just feel you in a way — because if you’re not present, then … they don’t feel as close to you.”

Cristál also was one of the queens who quickly branded themselves — not just in terms of their talents and skills, but also in terms of color palette. A lot has been said about Nymphia Wind’s obsession with yellow, but Cristál also utilized a lot of sapphire blue in her costumes. Clearly, one reason for so much blue is because of her name. But there are also other personal reasons Cristál gravitates toward blue in drag.

“Blue is a very calming color. It gives people a lot of peace,” she said. “And … sapphire is my birthstone,” she said. “And it’s not even my favorite color. I think my favorite color is red, and my favorite color combination is red and black and has been since I was a kid. But blue has become something new that I really enjoy a lot.”

The Season 16 cast seems like one of the closest casts so far (barring the Plane Jane/Amanda Tori Meating drama). Even with any drama that might have happened, Cristál said she loves the cast “because they’re all so sweet and genuine.” And in turn, a lot of the cast consider Cristál the mother of the season because of how much she helped the other queens.

“[F]or those who do call me mother, it’s because they feel comfortable around me. And to be able to give these girls some semblance of comfort was very great. It was a very rewarding experience to me because it’s a high-pressure environment,” she said. “And so, you know, sometimes people are feeling really mentally overwhelmed. And you got to say, ‘Hey baby, come here, get out of there [pointing to her brain]. Get into this, be here [pointing to her heart]. We only get to do this once — not talking about, like, not doing All Stars or anything, but we only get to do this one thing that we’re doing [once]. So to be here, we have to really experience it and get the most out of it. We have to be present.”

“I did a lot of reminding the girls of that, I did a lot of helping them get out of their heads, I did a lot of helping them settle, I did a lot of just being there in any way that I possibly could because it’s a lot,” she continued. “What I was instructed to do a long time ago in my life is be there when someone asks for your help. They ask for it, be there. If you see it, be there. That’s just how I was raised. And I just had to make sure that I was more myself in that way than any other self that could have been there, because those other selves that are in here are not as productive and not as influential in a growing way.”

It’s no surprise to anyone, then, that Cristál won Miss Congeniality. But what was surprising is that she was part of a historic Miss Congeniality double crowning with Xunami Muse. Cristál wasn’t surprised, though, because she said that Muse was that calming person for her.

“I was that person for a lot of people and even Xunami, but there were not that many people who could be that person for me except for Xunami,” she said. “And so it felt really good to be able to be there with my Drag Race bestie because we were those people for each other. So she had my vote. The fact that we got to do it together was amazing. I couldn’t have asked for anything better. … I mean probably the crown but [laughs].”

This a lot in the works for Cristál after Drag Race, including music and stage shows like her Cristál Ball Tour that she describes as a “magical musical comedy extravaganza that really lets you know exactly who Sapphira Cristál is.” She also has an album coming out, with her first single, “Enough,” already teased on the internet. And she said she has been commissioned by the Lincoln Center to help create a show called “Soundcake: Aural Confections by Sapphira Cristál & Monét X Change.”

But could there also be some type of advice book in the works? We hope so, since Cristál gave the best advice during the season. When asked about possibly spreading her advice to the fandom, she said that it’s important to be self-loving.

“Being more kind to yourself, being more compassionate with yourself, giving yourself more grace and more patience is very important because, you know, we are dealing with a lot,” she said. “When you can step out of the world and get into here — your heart, not in your head, you can really make better decisions in life because you’re making decisions out of love and not fear.”

Motherly talks like this is why Cristál is one of the many queens of the people among the pantheon of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

“There’s a lot more coming up from Sapphira Cristál,” she said. “I love RuPaul, and I think that Nymphia is the perfect representation of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 16. We’ve got a lot of things coming up, [and] I may not have won the crown, but I did win the crowd.”

Season 16 of RuPaul’s Drag Race is streaming on MTV on-demand.