Sasha Colby has us all at the Sasha Colby Meet and Greet, and we couldn’t be happier!
The Miss Continental winner and legendary drag performer won Season 15 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and while many felt it was in the bag for the accomplished performer, Colby told Shadow and Act that she’s still trying to believe it.
”It’s like sinking in. I think with this day doing a lot of press and talking about it, it’s slowly sinking in the more and more I get to talk about it, cause I really didn’t wanna sit in it too much as when it happened. I didn’t wanna be on my phone and like get caught up and start to go down that hole,” she said.
“I stayed away from social media like the first two days. I just like took a walk in Williamsburg and I just had brunch with friends and got recognized a bit. But I really just wanted to relax,” she continued. “And that’s kind of what I always do, when I get a little too caught up on social media or like caught up in my own ego, let’s say, I always like to just pull back and like watch something that has nothing to do with drag or nothing to do with the competition just so I get a little perspective. So…I needed a moment ’cause this is such a big deal and this is something if you had a not-so-strong mindset, you could really get caught up and then go down the wormhole of probably like a bad comment…wormhole or something and then everything just kinda gets dull. So I really just wanted to be present and grateful.”
Colby said that she was aware people would believe she was a shoo-in to win when she applied for the show. But she said that she looked at Drag Race as her platform toward bigger things.
“I knew I was going to get a lot of like, ‘Oh, it’s obvious,’ you know, ‘It’s Beyoncé doing American Idol,’ or like those comments. But I wanted to really live up to it for myself and show all the things that I’ve learned in my career on this show, because that’s what I really took it as with doing Drag Race. I’ve been acting, I’ve been dancing, I’ve been choreographing for years behind the scenes, slowly waiting for my wave to come,” she said. “And I just knew this was going to be not only my love letter to drag, but really a resume of everything I can do for the casting directors that are looking for a trans woman to act–I can do that. [If they’re looking] for comedy, I can do that. I can be anything you want if I was given the opportunity, and that’s all I really was focusing on, because I just wanted to have a long career doing what I love and hopefully be in a life state where I can fund and make my own dreams happen and employ my friends and do what I love to do. That’s what really was like the end all, not just winning a competition, that is like the hugest thing, but really trying to set myself up for a successful future.”
During the season, Colby talked openly about being trans in Hawai’i, including introducing audiences to the word “māhū,” signifying the third gender in Native Hawaiian culture. According to PBS, māhū were hailed as “healers, caretakers, and teachers of ancient tradition” in pre-colonial Hawai’i. The outlet also wrote that Hawai’i’s respect for māhū is still apparent despite the effects of 200 years of colonization.
“I think māhū is a, is a good keyword to start on learning what queer people were like in civilizations before colonization. I think it’s important to remember that in indigenous cultures there were māhū, there were trans or non-binary people in society, and we forget and we’re there,” she said. “The rhetoric is this is a new fad that’s just happening and they’re infecting our kids. No, we were a valid, integral part in societies, in so many cultures that me saying and normalizing the word māhū allows someone to maybe search the word and then go down and search other cultures, other Polynesian cultures, many Native American and Aztec, Mayan cultures. There’s all these cultures that understood that there was a space for us and treated us like humans. And I don’t know where that got all discombobulated. But that’s the most important thing about sharing indigenous queer words is to remind people that they’re ancient. It’s ancient.”
Colby said she feels the position she has in Drag Race can directly affect what’s happening in the country right now, what with combatting anti-trans and anti-drag legislation.
“I think that’s the reason why I waited this long to compete because I think this is the moment in time in society and culture that I will be of most used and I can be most effective because my mere existing makes people uncomfortable being trans,” she said. “And then being celebratory of your transness in drag, it makes the people that want to eradicate us very uncomfortable and me being on this platform now just kind of negates all. Because how do you explain someone like me thriving and the whole world living and cheering for a trans woman of color that is not harming any child [and] not doing all the things that their rhetoric is saying? Like, I am exactly what is needed right now.”
All of this aligns with Colby’s focus on uplifting the image of the “happy trans person” in media, since so much of media still upholds the idea that transness means inherent hardship.
“When I say that I wanna be an example of a happy trans person, it’s purely because of media and the stories that cis Hollywood wants to share is because it’s always about the transition. It’s never about after the transition or the happiness of a trans person. It’s always about the struggle or the things that it does to the family or the hardships that you have to go through,” she said. “And I’ve been through hardships, but to see an example of a happy trans person [is meaningful] and not just saying that I’m the only one that is a happy trans person. It’s just saying that there are us out there. We are all over. We are successful in every aspect of life right now. We are…the strongest people around because we are being told constantly who we are when we know we’re not, and we have the stomach to fight for it.”
“So being in this time, it’s so important to normalize this experience, and then have other trans people who are happy but don’t feel comfortable expressing themselves as a trans person in society, purely for safety, purely to get through and living this stealth life, [they] can see someone like me who isn’t ashamed of it, who doesn’t have to hide it and can still be successful,” she continued. “It’s what we need more of because if we keep on thinking that you’re just gonna make your life harder, it just negates all of the Laverne Coxes and the Trace Lysettes and now myself, you know, all these people that have worked really hard, been through a lot of things and don’t sit. We have our thriving, despite of it, because we all have hardships. Every single person has hardships. It seems to be very honed in on the trans community.”
So what’s next for Colby? A complete entertainment takeover.
“I mean I just made a dream come true, which is so wild,” she said. “I thought I’d get one of those dreams come true, you know, winning [Miss] Continental. But to imagine the power of manifestation and thinking and hard work and all these things that I realized after doing it twice now in a lifetime, I could probably get a few more dreams made. So I’m gonna put it out there–we’re gonna do an EGOT. I’m just gonna get all of media in their Sasha Colby era.”
RuPaul’s Drag Race is now streaming on Paramount+.