Jaida Essence Hall is still the essence of beauty– as well as the essence of talent– in RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars season 7.
This season, which features all winners vying for the title of Queen of All Queens, had a double episode season premiere, wowing audiences with both massive runways and a jam-packed Snatch Game. Shadow and Act Unscripted caught up with Hall and what it’s like to be a part of such a legendary season.
"It's been incredible. Like it's like one of those things that you just kind of feel shocked and amazed," she said.
“I know when I was younger and I started out in my drag career, I was like, ‘Oh my God, Drag Race would be something that would be so amazing to be a part of. I would love to be involved in the family of Drag Race in any way possible.’ Now, to not only just be on Drag Race season 12, but then be the winner of season 12 and then to go working in Vegas and the whole thing…and now like being a part of All Stars…it just feels really incredible. It’s just a dream of being a part of the family in any way…It just feels really good.”
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In the first episode, Hall had an emotional moment with the other queens about her feelings as a prior winner, especially as the first winner during the coronavirus pandemic.
In her conversation with Shadow and Act Unscripted, Hall said that talking with all of the queens about their feelings as winners made her feel welcomed.
“For me, I’m like, I haven’t had the opportunity to actually travel to the world. I haven’t had these opportunities to actually like go and do certain kinds of booking. I haven’t left the country. It was like so many things that I like expected that the winner of Drag Race you should have to do in order to be like, sickening queen diva person.”
“Just being in the room with all of them and to talk to every single person about like the experiences that they shared as a winner…like the difference between being a winner and then coming back, [or] losing the first time and then coming back as a winner and like what it’s been like for them, you just realize like, OK, so I’m not actually alone in the way that I felt about this,” she continued. “Even if you do feel like you have doubts about your career, that’s like something that we all do. It’s something that we’ve all experienced, but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re a sickening individual and that you deserve everything that you got.”
She congratulated her fandom for keeping up afloat and mentally grounded as she went through the pandemic.
“I feel like we owe so much [to] our fans and people that support us,” she said. “…Even in other moments that oftentimes you’ll be upset [and you] kind of want to count yourself out, the fans and the people who always come through for us, they never let us for a moment feel bad about [ourselves]…They make us feel like we’re always loved and supported, so I’m just really grateful for it. At least for my fandom–I can’t speak for everybody. But I know that I’m very lucky.”
Another big moment: walking in front of Naomi Campbell, supermodel legend.
Hall said walking for Campbell was “so iconic.” She said she was nervous about walking in front of Campbell because she didn’t want Campbell to read her, but part of her also wanted to be “read to filth” because it would have been “the most iconic thing to happened in my life.”
“But thankfully, she was an amazing coach and she was so sweet and gracious to us,” Hall said. “Not only was she being sweet with us, but she gave us helpful information to improve our runway…Thankfully for Shea [Coulee], she didn’t have to receive any feedback,” she said, referencing the touching moment Coulee, one of Campbell’s biggest fans, had with Campbell on stage. “But for her [Shea] just like being in a space with Naomi and [for] Naomi being gracious enough to open up, to actually come to the show and take time out of her busy life to like be there for us meant every single thing because we’ve all seen her, especially as like young, queer drag queens. We’ve all seen her and we’ve all looked up to her in some shape or form. And [for us] to actually be in that moment and share a space with her just felt like everything.”
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Snatch Game, every fan's favorite part of the season, came early and gave fans what they wanted and then some.
The double Snatch Game, in which the queens portrayed two different characters, might have given fans more laughter, but it also made Hall extra nervous. But thankfully her plan to have fun with the challenge paid off in her characterizations of Prince and queer icon The Lady Chablis.
“I’ve always in my mind was like, I’m not really that good at impersonating other characters. I feel like I’m a lot of character by myself, just to try to juggle [that],” she said. “So I was always nervous about doing snatch game and I didn’t necessarily do poorly at Snatch Game, but I also didn’t win Snatch Game, so oftentimes, it just feels like you kinda sucked. So for me, I didn’t want to necessarily come back and try to redeem myself at Snatch Game, but I just wanted to have a lot more fun and see where having a lot of fun would take me.”
“Thankfully, this time I just let it go, having more fun and not taking it seriously, especially knowing that nobody was going home, that you can take a little bit of liberty to just have a little bit more fun where you normally might be a little bit in your head, and it was everything,” she continued. “I think the way that the competition is set up actually set all of us up for success…in the challenge, and I gotta say thank you to Mother Ru for not sending any of us home. We had the opportunity to have the best time ever for Snatch Game and for all the audience, too.”
Hall is excited for fans to see how the season shakes out and to see the full body of work the queens present since no eliminations means more personal time with the queens. She also feels the season honors the fans as much as it does the statements, icons, and legends competing.
“The fans better be super excited about this season of Drag Race. I know that Shae said her drag is like a love letter to Black women everywhere. But I think this season of Drag Race is that in a lot of ways, but for all us,: she said. “…It is basically a love letter to all of the people who support Drag Race, to all the people who’s ever come to our shows, who buy our merch, who come to our defense when people are making us feel bad on social media, to all of those people out there in the world that just love on us and have made the franchise exactly what it is today.”
RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars drops every Friday on Paramount+.