Lady Gaga is going back to her drag roots.
Last week, A Star is Born had its North American premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, where it quickly became the frontrunner for this year’s Oscars race. At a press junket for the movie at the Toronto Film Festival, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper talked in length about making the project, and the conversation eventually turned to drag queens—as one does when talking with Gaga—and how the “Born This Way” singer was more than happy to step in as Cooper’s drag mother on the film’s set.
In A Star is Born Gaga’s character, Ally, first meets Jackson Maine (Cooper) during her performance at Bleu Bleu, a drag bar outside of L.A.—and it happens to be staffed by Shangela and Willam from RuPaul’s Drag Race.
“I would just ask [Gaga] tons of questions and listen back to it and try to take things and think How can we mold this? And we really loved the drag bar idea and I really wanted her to sing ‘La Vie en Rose,’” Cooper told Vulture. “Once I met [Willam and Shangela] on set, the possibilities became endless of what we could do in this space. It was so exciting.”
Gaga added how “wonderful” Cooper’s curiosity about drag makeup was: “I remember having a whole conversation with him about soaping the brow, how you get the eyebrow to stay down. You pat it with powder and then you can’t see it. All of these little details.”
Back in March Shangela revealed she would be making an appearance in A Star is Born playing Ally’s drag mother.
“I’m in drag, I’m kind of Lady Gaga’s drag mother, a bar owner,” she told Billboard. “I can’t give much more away than that. But it’s gonna be really fun, it’s not a giant role but it’s a good role that’s memorable. I’ve heard from a lot of people on the team I’m going to be very happy.”
“I make a joke sometimes that behind every female icon is a gay man and I really wouldn’t be here without the gay community and what they have taught me about love and acceptance and bravery. And this scene [in the drag bar] was so special. And I think one of the most beautiful moments in this film is when she walks through the tinsel and she hears him playing a song and the words, ‘Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die’ to the queens who are sitting there.”
“And I think to myself she’s falling in love with this man because she sees he has empathy, he has compassion, he has love. He’s a kind person,” she added. “It’s such as special moment in the film. And I thought he in the film he executed it with perfect authenticity. I don’t think for a second with those scenes I’m not in a real drag bar”