Kandy Muse Is Proud to Represent Afro-Latinos on RuPaul's Drag Race
"I take pride in who I am, and being Dominican, I definitely incorporate that in my drag," says the season 13 queen.
Though 2021 is off to a rocky start, RuPaul's Drag Race has been a real highlight — and so has Kandy Muse, one of the breakout stars of season 13. Her Whoopie Cushion character will go down in show history (get your official enamel pin here), and her take on last week's Little Black Dress runway challenge has already inspired a thousand memes. "I knew I was destined to be on the show at some point," Kandy tells People CHICA. "I auditioned for the show three times before, but when I was auditioning for season 13, I just had a feeling that it was gonna be my year."
Kandy's start in drag stemmed from helping a friend who needed a makeup model. "A very good friend of mine was applying for a job at Sephora, and he was practicing his makeup on me," she explains. "From there I kind of picked up pointers. I've always been a kid of the theater and the arts and dancing and cheerleading and marching band, and just entertainment, period. I put two and two together after I watched Drag Race for the first four seasons and realized that was something that I can do. I practiced at home behind closed doors, and [when I] finally went out into the world things just took off really fast. There was no looking back from there."
Filming for this season was done in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, meaning that contestants had to get tested three times a week. With fans stuck at home and unable to participate in their usual (and often raucous) viewing parties, the stakes feel even higher for the queens to put on a good show. "The experience has been a mix of emotions, because with each episode coming out the fans are very connected to the show," says Kandy. "So we all go through a roller-coaster of emotions together, but I wouldn't change it for the world. I loved everyone on set — not only the cast but the crew as well. Just seeing all the love that I'm getting from everyone, and just seeing all the memes, it's been a wonderful experience. If I could go back on Drag Race and do it again, I absolutely would because I don't want the experience to end."
As an Afro-Dominican from the Bronx, Kandy feels it's important to incorporate her culture in her style so that she represents the community that she hasn't seen much of on-screen. "Being an Afro-Latino from the Bronx, New York — South Bronx — I take pride in who I am, and being Dominican, I definitely incorporate that in my drag," she shares. "Anyone that sees me either on the show, prior to the show, or after the show, they can see that I have this little Latin flavor to me, because it's important to be a representation for people that aren't necessarily represented on television. I haven't seen anyone that represents me on television, and that's what I want — to go on there and just show people that you can be from the hood, and you can still make it out and be a fabulous entertainer and still chase your dreams."
Last week, Kandy found herself in the bottom two after having tension with Tamisha Iman, but she says there are no hard feelings between them now. "I think that everyone saw how we hugged at the end of the runway," she says. "I was crying because I just felt so bad and so guilty for sending Tamisha home. If you watch Untucked, you can see how Tamisha is talking about how the disco challenge actually bought us back together. Drag queens fight — this is what we do backstage at a bar. We fight and we are gonna get over it. At the end of the day, we're still sisters, and we're gonna get on each other's nerves."
Whether or not she's crowned America's Next Drag Superstar, Kandy plans to continue entertaining the world long after the season ends. "Regardless if I win Drag Race or not, I do hope to continue a career on television," she says. "This is my passion, it's what I love to do, and I love to entertain, and by the looks of it, I get people talking. Me and Tamisha made one of the best-rated episodes in Drag Race history, so clearly, I was made for television!"