Another star has left the stage of Secret Celebrity Drag Race, but her light is sure to linger for weeks to come.
Milli Von Sunshine has been officially revealed to be two time Tony winner and Glee alum Jenna Ushkowitz. It’s clear in her résumé that she’s no stranger to theatrics, and her time up in drags has proved it yet again!
Her run featured some of the most unique looks and performance concepts of the season so far, whether it be her two-tone “Sweet but Psycho” fit or her bedazzled hair curler swimsuit in “Work From Home”.
In our chat, Jenna dishes a backstage music switch-up, an upcoming challenge she was happy to miss, and her secret celebrity bestie.
QUEERTY: Congrats on a great run on the show! Your “Dancing on my Own” performance especially was lauded on the level of Jujubee and Raven.
JENNA: It was the most fun. I mean, “Dancing on my Own” was definitely my strongest performance. And then to be able to do something so iconic in front of your mentor who did the iconic number? It’s just the cherry on top of the sundae.
It’s one of my favorite songs, and the concept was just so ridiculous. It felt very me. The whole thing was just a really cool once in a lifetime opportunity to get all dragged up.
You’ve had your share of camp performances.
For sure, but this is just another level.
And I, for the record, was very, very early pregnant with my daughter. So I was starting to do this fairly ill, and in layers and tights and makeup for hours and wigs that you’re praying don’t fall off.
You knew at the time?
Yes, yes, I did.
And you decided to have a drag baby anyway!
No, literally, I say to her, “You were there with me.”
Towards the end, you got the critique that you were “too perfect.” It’s also been given to girls like Chad Michaels and Brooke Lynn, so you’re in excellent company. How do you interpret that as a critique?
I think ultimately what sent me home was not really playing into the camp of it all, and like the hyper-awareness of the situation.
I think that’s what the performance that ultimately sent me home with Gottmik was lacking a little bit, the self-awareness and bringing the audience into the know. But honestly, I’ll take that critique any day from anybody.
Just to let yourself get into the stupid of at all a little bit?
Yeah. I’m a perfectionist and I like very clean, straightforward things, I’m very by the book. To give a really solid performance that I was really happy with is what I was aiming for always.
Honestly, with that last performance of “Side to Side”, I’m just surprised you let Gottmik take the Nicki [Minaj] verse.
You know, I thought I was gonna get the Nicki verse too! And then they swapped it for some reason, but it’s fine. Mik has seniority over me, so.
Sounds like producer sabotage to me.
[Laughs] Fair enough, but It was time for me to go.
The fans are speculating that you had a close friend still in the competition. In this hypothetical world, did you both go out for it independently, or was it an “if you go, I’ll go” kind of thing?
Oh, very independently. There was a very unaware moment about this experience going into it. I’m thrilled that it happened.
When did you each know that the other was going?
Well, they really hid us very well from the other contestants very early on. They tried, at least. I’m not sure that they realized that we talk every day. So it’s kind of hard to keep from each other.
They tried, but just crossing paths with everybody every day, we figured everybody out pretty quickly. And our dressing rooms were next to each other, all of us, so.
Did the two of you get competitive at all?
No, God, no, we’re not like that at all. I mean, I think collectively we get competitive, like “I’ll stay if you stay,” but no, we’re the most supportive.
They’re like my number one fan. I feel very lucky. It was more like, “Please don’t go, please don’t leave me!” I was very grateful to have them in this.
What was it like having Jujubee as your Queen Supreme and getting to collaborate with Gottmik – just being part of the Drag Race family?
What a dream. It felt very aligned to have Mik as my partner given Milli’s looks and makeup and the route that we took Milli creatively. And then Jujubee, to do a legendary number that she had also done and to have her support along the way…
All of the mentors chimed in and were there to support us, Monét and Brooke Lynn as well. It was really fun getting to know them, hanging out with them, and having their guidance.
They’ve done this a million times before – especially Juju – so it was really nice to have. I don’t know that we would have gotten through with them.
Did the mentors give you any advice that’s stuck with you?
The week of the Robyn number, Juju really changed that performance for me. I was going with this very comedic, funny, – and it was funny, the circumstances in the scene – but she really pushed me to find the vulnerable, more grounded side of it. That’s not naturally where I would go with it.
All in all, taking that and applying it to everything in drag — the camp, the costume, etc. — you have to play that up. That’s what makes it funny. But then to find the grounded world in which this art form lies as well, I think is what makes it so dynamic for people.
Were there any other songs that you were hoping to perform?
I don’t know if I can say this… I guess I can. My next number, had I stayed, was going to be “Walking on Broken Glass” from Annie Lennox, and it was going to be a Marie Antoinette moment. I was really looking forward to that number.
I have to be honest though, I was actually very relieved I didn’t have to be there for Snatch Game. It’s the scariest thing in the whole world to me. It’s such an iconic thing. I was like, “Let the pros do this.”
Did you already have a character picked out?
I had thought about it, but I can’t remember… Who was I going to do? I can’t remember.
This is why I shouldn’t do Snatch Game ever. I’m not an impersonator, I’m not good at impressions… it’s not my thing. I absolutely would have gone home that week, had I not gone home earlier.
Why did you choose the charity that you did?
There’s about a million charities I would have chosen if I could, but Planned Parenthood felt the most important and pertinent at the time, and now even more so. With women’s rights and lives at stake, it felt like the right choice for so many people who don’t have a voice to make a choice right now. We have to protect that at all costs.
It’s just devastating to see, it feels like we’re reversing in time. Anything I can do to help be a part of the resolution. It’s hard to even vocalize just how important it actually is, both as a mother now and having been pregnant at the time.
Abortion isn’t just about termination. It’s about people’s health and livelihoods and life. That’s a basic human right.
Pertinent then, and even more pertinent now. A perfect answer from a perfect competitor.
Check out Jenna’s stunning main-stage performance of “Dancing on my Own”: