To be named America’s next drag queen takes an incredible amount of talent and skill. In the US talent show hosted by RuPaul, queens have to prove their make-up and their sewing skills, they have to nail their dance moves and be both funny and smart in order to avoid being eliminated in the ‘lip-sync duel’. They also need to show that they are authentic and have that certain special appeal that can conquer the hearts of a discerning audience. No wonder RuPaul’s Drag Race has been a major launch pad for a number of queens who are now huge in show business. Below are five of the most popular and successful.

1 Alaska

Alaska Thunderfuck 5000, also known as Alaska Thunderfuck, Alaska 5000, or simply Alaska, had auditioned for every single season before making it onto Season 5 where she finished as runner-up. She then went on to win All Stars 2. Alaska (real name Justin Honard) studied theater at the University of Pittsburgh and later moved to Los Angeles, where she started doing drag acts professionally. Last June, she performed on the Hollywood stage in DRAG: The Musical, featuring other drag guests.

2 Shangela

Shangela Laquifa Wadley, best known as Shangela, was born Darius Jeremy Pierce. She was the first contestant to be eliminated in RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 2, but came back the next season to prove she could do better. Although she didn’t win the show, Shangela proved herself a talented actor and went on to appear in several TV shows and in the blockbuster musical film A Star Is Born alongside Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.

3 Bob the Drag Queen

Black and non-binary comedian and actor Caldwell Tidicue won Season 8 of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Coming up from the New York drag scene, Bob the Drag Queen is one of the more iconic and hilarious queens to feature on the show. After achieving success with RuPaul’s Drag Race, he released dance tunes and acted in a number of shows. He is a big supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement and an active advocate for LGBT+ rights.

4 Bianca del Rio

Bianca del Rio is the stage name of drag queen, comedian, performer and costume designer Roy Renè Haylock, and was the winner of Season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. She is one of the more experienced and talented queens and often works together with legendary drag Lady Bunny. Bianca’s cheek dimples, strong laugh and intense voice are among her main characteristics, not to mention her sharp wit.

5 Symone

Originally from Conway, Arkansas, Symone (real name Reginald Gavin) moved to LA where the drag scene is especially lively, and ended up the winner of Season 13 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. In 2021, Symone attended the glamorous and exclusive Met Gala, becoming the fourth drag queen to do so after RuPaul, Aquaria and Violet Chachki. She also featured on the catwalk in Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty show and appeared in the fall 2021 campaign of the fashion brand Moschino.