Jaida Essence Hall in a black dress

RuPaul’s Drag Race has had plenty of gorgeous girls walk its hallowed halls, but only one queen claims the title of the true Essence of Beauty™. From her activism and perseverance to her stunning looks, Drag Race season twelve winner Jaida Essence Hall is a one-of-a-kind beauty inside and out.

This Milwaukee queen’s stint on RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 7 last year reminded the girls why she reigns fashionably supreme, earning her plenty of runway accolades and multiple challenge wins for her design skills. That’s not to say she’d even been out of the game long enough to necessitate a reminder; by the time AS7 started airing, she was already tearing up stages across the globe as part of the 2022 Werq the World tour, which itself had interrupted her run on Drag Race Live! in Las Vegas. Booked and busy, as always!

Outside of her breathtaking style and performance abilities, audiences have gotten to fall in love with Jaida’s heart multiple times over. She spoke passionately on a panel for the Trevor Project at South by Southwest in March on the legal challenges the LGBTQ+ community is facing today, specifically when it comes to trans folks and drag performers.

“I think the last thing people need to deal with when they’re worrying about paying bills, going to work, getting an education, or their health is to worry about just being who they are and existing being a crime,” she emphasized.

“We have our young trans brothers and sisters who oftentimes need the most protection but might not be able to stand up for themselves. So, in my mind, I’m worried about everything that’s going on. But at the same time, I know this is the time for a fight and I’m ready to throw my hands up, honey.”

It’s been heartening to see Jaida flourish the way she has recently after the hard circumstances around her first crowning moment on season twelve. Just weeks after her original season began airing in February 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic shut the world down and put the entire cast’s moment in the sun into a tailspin. After months of watching the competition back from home, she finally took the crown – which she had to accept over a Zoom call in her apartment.

Her win came in late May, in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. Though she’d put on an amazing showing, a vocal, bigoted section of the Drag Race viewership attributed her win over finalist Gigi Goode (a white, then-apolitical look queen with four maxi-challenge wins) to production not wanting to upset the already fierce racial tensions across the country further.

Rather than being defined by these hardships, Jaida endured a season suddenly thrust into isolation and a faction of anti-Black “fans” detracting her win and came out the other side stronger. Nowadays, you can catch Jaida on her hilarious Hall & Closet podcast with season twelve sister and All Stars 8 competitor Heidi N. Closet, tearing it up at Drag Race Live!, her recent appearance on Hulu’s Drag Me to Dinner, and later this summer in another whirlwind Werq the World tour!

She’s performing across the world for huge crowds in a way she didn’t get to back in 2020, as well as reveling in a second successful run on Drag Race. She’s continuing to connect with audiences in the way she’d hoped to when she first set out for the show, and in a moment where audiences most need to see hopeful, joyous drag like hers.

​​“In my life, it’s not been the easiest road,” she said at South by Southwest. “Giving a hand wherever you can in your community feels like a serve for me!”

For more, check out Jaida’s full Trevor Project panel discussion with fellow Drag Race alumni Symone and Gottmik:

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