Shangela On Growing Up, Doing “All Stars 3,” And Acting With Lady Gaga

"When Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga ask you to come back the next day, you drop [your gig] and come back!

Shangela Laquifa Wadley (DJ Pierce) is the delectable creature who was on two seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race and now returns for RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3. She won’t go away!

I know the girl from Logo’s Cocktails & Classics, so I reached out for a catchup call, to talk to her about All Stars and how her fabulous self fares in the upcoming A Star Is Born movie, alongside Bradley Cooper (who directed) and Lady Gaga.

Hi, Shangela. First of all, how did you manage to come back to Drag Race?

Well, I am Shangela, so I should always be expected to come back every season. [Laughs] I was on Season 2, I came back for Season 3, I was whirled in in a box and was eaten by drag queen zombies in the hood in Season 4, and then I popped out of Jujubee’s body on All Stars 2.

via GIPHY

And now you’re on All Stars 3.

Honey, I can’t get enough of myself.

Will you win this time?

Let’s hope so. I should. I just really wanted to come back because fans got to know me when I was a baby. I came on Drag Race after only doing drag for five months. Now I’m a drag adult—a grown woman, as Beyoncé would say. I’m going for the full-on gig this time. I’m excited to show my fans a grown up Shangela.

How have you grown?

With time comes growth. I’ve been able to continue working. I’ve been able to work on six out of seven continents—Antartica’s next. [Laughs] I’ve worked and come into my own as a drag professional.

 

On Cocktails & Classics, you seemed to really come alive with Sister Act I and II.

Those are my favorite movies. I love them all because I learned so much, but those were my faves. I met Whoopi Goldberg recently. I was on the set of The View recently with Jenifer Lewis and it was a dream come true. I bow down to sister Goldberg.

Jenifer is sort of your house mama.

She’s my house mama, my mentor, my icon. I love Jenifer. Jenifer Lewis, the mother of black Hollywood.

Who do you play in A Star Is Born?

I’m super excited. I play the drag queen MC and bar owner. I was so excited to get to be in scenes with Bradley and Gaga. They were just as spectacular on camera as they were off camera, and off camera as they were on camera.

So does Gaga perform at a drag bar or go to one?

You’ll have to stay tuned and see how the plot works out. Originally, when I auditioned, it was a lipsynch role onstage, but the casting people liked me to offer me another role. They’ve moved the date to an October release. So woohoo.

So you started with a lipsynch role and they expanded you to the MC?

Yes. “She’s got a little pizzazz. Let’s give her some lines, let’s give her this other role we were looking to cast.” Bradley Cooper said, “Shangela, you’re doing so great, can you come back tomorrow? It’ll just be me, you, LG—they call Lady Gaga LG—and Willam.” “Cancel? I’ll be there, baby.”

Vincent Sandoval/WireImage

You canceled your gig?

I got someone to fill in for me. When Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga ask you to come back the next day, you drop it and come back!

What’s your best quality?

Number one, I like to have a lot of fun. I have a lot of great energy for this business because I love it so much. And I’m very genuine. The person you see on television is the one you’ll meet walking the streets of Times Square. My fans and I have a real connection because I’m real and I love meeting them. Hashtag what you see is what you get.

Well, thank you and congrats on All Stars.

I’m doing a weekly viewing party at Mickey’s in West Hollywood. We don’t get to see it ahead of time either. They’ll be able to experience the show with me every Thursday. We’ll also stream a lot online so my fans can follow me on social media.

RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 3 premieres Thursday, January 25 at 8/7c on VH1.

Michael Musto is the long running, award-winning entertainment journalist and TV commentator.
@mikeymusto