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Interview: Olivia Lux Shines a Spotlight on Her Theatre Roots

RuPaul's Drag Race queen Olivia Lux tells us about how her theatrical past inspires her career in drag!

Interview: Olivia Lux Shines a Spotlight on Her Theatre Roots The queens of Season 13 of RuPaul's Drag Race have got star quality, but perhaps none are shining as brightly as the luminous Olivia Lux. Before hitting the workroom, this New York City queen worked it out on the stage, and now she's drawing on her musical theatre roots to shantay her way to the crown.

Before the queens flex their acting muscles on tonight's highly-anticipated Snatch Game episode, we're checking in with Olivia to hear all about how her theatre past influences her drag today, how she caught the theatre bug, and more!

How did performing come into your life?

I grew up as that kid who would put on productions at our family gatherings. I would put together shows with my cousins and use the living room lighting as our stage lighting. When we'd hit the switch, it was a blackout! [Laughs] That turned into a way for me to fully express myself through acting, dancing and singing.

Then my mom eventually put me in music lessons- that's how it really started. I played clarinet, which soon turned into piano. Then in high school I found theatre. My theatre director saw me on the marching band field- a really eccentric piccolo player- and said, "Hey, would you want to audition for the musical?" With all my nerve, I went up there on the stage and did it! Theatre has been in my life ever since.

And the rest is history!

Yes! I think theatre is such an expressive, creative outlet. I think that, along with drag, it's one of the ultimate forms of storytelling. My parents and my whole family- my mother, grandmother, and my two aunts- have always been so supportive of all of my creative endeavors. They really helped cultivate that in me. I like to think that they are the amalgamation of Olivia. All of their feminine energy created this powerhouse diva on the keys. [Laughs]

I know you're from New Jersey. Did you get to come to New York City a lot as a kid to see shows?

Yeah, I grew up in a little farm town in southern New Jersey. After high school I moved to northern New Jersey and went to school at Montclair State University for Theatre. The best part about being from New Jersey is that you get to go to the Jersey shore, Philadelphia for all of the school field trips, and to New York to see Broadway shows! You get a little bit of everything, and growing up, I was definitely exposed to that. One of the first Broadway shows I saw was The Lion King with my grandma. That is Black excellence onstage! It was so inspiring! The music... it is everything that I loved growing up.

But now I'm living here in New York City and it feels like a dream. What is my life?! Like, I'm just casually living the dream...

You're lucky to have been one of those kids who grew up close enough to a big city to be exposed to all of that stuff...

But now, when so much stuff is digital, it's really great to see all of this great stuff being put out there for the world to see. I just hosted the 25 Years of Rent Anniversary for New York Theatre Workshop. It was so awesome- they reached out to me because I used to be an administrative fellow a few years back. It was so cool.

When did it really click that you needed to perform?

I think I realized that I needed to be on a stage for the rest of my life when I was in high school. I felt like all of the odds were against me- I was odd, had no self-confidence, I was 300 pounds. But on that stage, being able to pretend and make people laugh... I was living my fantasy. I went home and told my mom that I wanted to do theatre in college and she said, "Are you sure?!" [Laughs] And I never looked back from there.

What kind of shows did you do in school?

Oh, lots! The Apple Tree, Beauty and the Beast- I was the Beast! I was Angel in Rent a few times. In college I was Donkey in a touring production of Shrek. My past characters have definitely been outlandish!

Interview: Olivia Lux Shines a Spotlight on Her Theatre Roots

You did wonderfully in the Rusical challenge last week! Being someone with a theatre background, were you excited to get to challenges like the Rusical?

I was definitely excited for any challenge that leaned in to my strengths. But I also kinda looked at every challenge as a new opportunity to have fun. I was excited to be able to play and perform with everyone. But of course- I was happy to do something that I knew.

Do you normally get to see a lot of theatre, being a New Yorker?

You know- I actually think that is a common misconception that if you're in New York you're going to shows every night. It's not always a night at the opera. Weirdly, I feel like I saw more theatre when I was living in Jersey because we would make a day out of it. But I find that a lot of times with drag in New York, there is a lot if theatrics everywhere. I feel like I'm surrounded by it all the time, but it's been a minute since I sat down and saw a show- especially with Broadway being closed right now.

Are there any shows that have directly inspired your drag today?

I really love Dreamgirls. I love the glamor and glitz. And I really love the concept of taking Black excellence and running with it. I love The Wiz, Hamilton... I grew up watching The Wizard of Oz and I've always told my family that I wanted to see Diana Ross and Michael Jackson- the people who I resonated with, who looked and sounded like me. Those kinds of characters helped me find my way as an artist. Any queer, black character... I'm all for it.

Your yellow look last week was so Dreamgirls!

Yes! Living my dream! I was ready to hit the stage!

Have you thought ahead about goals for life after Drag Race?

It's ever-changing. I've given it thought and I really love to entertain. I would love to be able to perform on stages around the world, but ultimately I would love to end up on the theatre stage too! That could be a great moment.

Check out RuPaul's Drag Race tonight as Olivia and eight other fabulous queens show off their acting/improv chops in the Season 13 edition of Snatch Game! Who will they portray? Tune in to VH1 at 8PM ET/PT to find out!

Want to learn more about the theatre queens of RuPaul's Drag Race Season 13? Read our interviews with Tina Burner and Rosé.

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