Shangela gets ‘Fully Lit’ in Orlando

Shangela is no stranger to the spotlight. The activist, actor, dancer and diva became an instant fan favorite on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” in 2010 and hasn’t slowed down since.

While she was eliminated first in the drag competition’s second season, the entertainer returned for its third to secure a spot in the top five. She later became the first “Drag Race” star to compete in three separate seasons as a frontrunner on “RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars” in 2018.

Appearing on “Watch What Happens Live” last month, RuPaul chose Shangela when asked which “Drag Race” alum deserved a crown who hadn’t won a season. It was just one of the latest testaments to her star power.

“Your acknowledgement feels just as validating as any crown,” Shangela responded via social media Dec. 20. “I’ve always been grateful for the opportunities that Ru and ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ gave me … and I’m even more grateful for the ‘Drag Race’ sisterhood and the fans around the world that have stood by me while I tried, failed, even broke a leg … but never gave up. And here we are today, still standing … still entertaining … still creating!”

Notably, that included a historical turn on the 31st season of “Dancing with the Stars” in 2022. Shangela became the first drag entertainer to compete on the American version of the dancing competition, where she reached the finals.

She was also invited to The White House to witness President Joe Biden sign the Respect for Marriage Act into law. She became one of the first drag entertainers to attend such an event in the process.

Currently, Shangela can be seen on HBO’s “We’re Here,” where she cultivates connection through the art of drag with co-hosts Bob the Drag Queen and Eureka O’Hara. The trio came to Central Florida during its latest season, participating in a “Just Say Gay” rally, visiting The LGBT+ Center Orlando and more. It’s streaming now on HBO Max.

Next up, Shangela’s touring the nation with the “Fully Lit Tour,” reflecting on her experiences and more. Watermark spoke with her ahead of its Orlando stop at the Dr. Phillips Center Feb. 1.

WATERMARK: You’ve made a lot of history as an entertainer. What were your takeaways from “Dancing with the Stars?”

Shangela: The biggest takeaway that I have is that the art and the love of dance is something that everyone should be allowed to experience. It brought me so much joy to be able to go through that experience. So as a gay person, as a drag entertainer who was able to live out my experience in my most fabulous form on the show, both in and out of drag, it was truly a gift. I’m so grateful to be the person that was chosen to be in that moment and to showcase and represent the queer community, as best I could, to so many people who didn’t have a touch point before to the world of drag.

What can you share about your visit to the White House?

I mean, to receive an invitation that said, “President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Joe Biden cordially request your presence at the White House,” I said, “Oh, honey, get my Olivia Pope wig, because I’m going to D.C.!” It was absolutely wonderful to be there, it was truly a dream come true – and to do it in drag was also a great gift. I wasn’t required to be in drag, but I wanted to showcase that drag queens have a role to play in moving the acceptance, inclusivity and the visibility of our community forward.

To have that representation at the White House says a lot, especially during this time when certain states, governors and different types of legislation are really targeting the queer community and specifically the drag community. I thought it would be a really powerful thing. It was a dream come true. Really.

Attacks on LGBTQ Floridians factored heavily into “We’re Here.” What can you share about that?

Let me be very clear. I love Florida. I love Florida based on my personal experiences and the people of Florida that I’ve been able to encounter, for the most part. I’ve performed all over Florida – from Jacksonville, Orlando, Miami, Wilton Manors, Fort Lauderdale, you know, the doll has been around – and my experience with Florida has been overwhelmingly wonderful … I meet the best people in Florida.

Now, in doing our show “We’re Here,” I was able to see another side of Florida that many people read about in the news and we understand it exists, because

Florida has a high number of red counties and conservatives. And people who are pretty much homophobic, I’m just gonna keep it real, especially those high up. So it’s always an interesting relationship that I have with Florida, because my experience with the people is so wonderful but then I know that there’s an opposite realm that exists, and I’ve experienced that too. I have great hope for Florida and that’s why I’m excited to bring “Fully Lit” to Orlando. I’m super excited to be there because Florida deserves entertainment. Florida deserves to laugh. Florida deserves to experience Shangela’s “Fully Lit!”

How was the tour conceptualized?

I’ve done a number of tours, but this one felt really special because it’s my first major tour after the pandemic and I wanted to reconnect with my fans from the stage. I’ve been working so much in television and film, gratefully, but I haven’t been able to do as much touring, especially in this way. I’ve had so many really cool milestones in my career that people have been attached to – like the White House and “Dancing with the Stars” to “We’re Here” – to way back when I first came in the door on season two of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and working with different celebrities. I want to share that.

What can audiences expect?

We’re going to have a very fun, concert-style feel. When I go to see Beyonce and J. Lo, honey, I want to walk out thinking, “Baby, I got my money’s worth!” So that’s what I love to give my fans, I want to give them the high-energy performance and talent that they’re familiar with and then I’ll hit them with some hilarious, side-splitting stories from the road and from my career that really make people have a good time. There’s nothing like a live show and there’s nothing like Shangela live. Baby, get ready!

Why is this the perfect show for fans new and old?

This is the perfect show because right now we all want to laugh and be entertained. We all want to feel something, especially something exciting, and that’s what the “Fully Lit” tour is all about. Baby, you might strike a match, but it’s not burning until you see Shangela.

One really exciting thing is that this is my first time touring with a large company like Live Nation, and I’m so thrilled with the support … and another great sponsor is AT&T. Having an amazing partner like AT&T in this experience helping me reconnect with my fans and connecting us all is really brilliant. Especially when our queer community, and specifically the world of drag, is under attack in so many places like Florida … this is really amazing.

Shangela’s “Fully Lit Tour” is scheduled for Feb. 1 at 8:30 p.m. at the Dr. Phillips Center in Orlando. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

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