Nía Diamonté is this week’s Dragaholic Drag Queen of the Week! Read Nía’s amazing story below to find out how this rising drag entertainer is pushing the limits of creativity and quickly making a name for herself in North Carolina.

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“My biological name is Ernest Strickland, but my drag name is Nía Diamonté. I am 19 years old. I currently reside in North Carolina with my partner of six years, Justin. He is my absolute world! I have many hobbies and things I love to do, but none of them compare to my absolute passion, the art form of female impersonation, better known as drag! Drag for me isn’t just throwing it all on and going out for a night; to me drag is so much more.

“I started doing drag in September of 2013, shortly after being kicked out of my home because of my sexuality. I had lost everything I had and didn’t know where to go next. To get my mind off of everything around me, my best friend at the time got me into drag. My first night out in drag we both entered an amateur competition and I performed to “Baby I” by Ariana Grande. Even though I barely knew the words, my heels were two sizes too big, and I looked a complete mess, it was then that I knew I wanted to do.

“After that night I began learning everything I possibly could about the art form. I watched YouTube videos almost every night until my eyes could barely stay open any longer. I went to show after show. Slowly but surely I started getting things down pat.

Nia Diamonte North Carolina Drag Queen 04“I am so grateful for the queens along the way that have given me advice, criticism, pushed me in the right direction, and motivated me. My biggest inspiration are two people that I look up to and adore, Jujubee, from RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 2, and Sasha Colby, former Miss Continental. I’ve had the privilege of meeting both of these talented queens and they are definitely my two biggest idols.

“The past two years of my life have been the absolute worst. So much has happened in such short amount of time. From being kicked out on my 18th birthday and being shunned by my entire family, to my best friend since kindergarten committing suicide, there have been so many events that it all almost became too much. If it wasn’t for drag I wouldn’t be who, or where, I am today. I almost gave up so many times over the past two years, but this art form gave me a purpose. Drag provided me with a happiness in my life that nothing else could. When the world around me was falling apart, I turned to drag. I truly believe it is my purpose in life.

Nia Diamonte North Carolina Drag Queen 01“The later half of 2014 was when things started to look up for me, and it was all because of drag. I won my first competition January 2014 and took on the bar title of Legends EOY. Later that year, I competed in my first ever pageant, “Dragula Entertainer Of the Year,” a prelim to NCEOY, and swept the floor, winning every category, including most creative, and took home the crown. I am now going on to compete for NCEOY.

“I found my amazing drag family in 2014, who are the best group of people that have ever come into my life, and also earned the national title of “Ultimate Teen of Don’t H8”. So many blessings have, and continue to, come my way in the world of drag. I couldn’t have been happier. People always say that we must go through the storms to see the sun. I couldn’t agree more. These happenings alone made of the pain and heartache I went through worth it.

Nia Diamonte North Carolina Drag Queen 10“This art form allows me express myself with no limits. From crazy characters, to gorgeous glam, drag allows it all. Does everyone agree? Of course not! I recently competed in a pageant that was heavily judged based on creativity and for talent I portrayed the Grinch. I received instant backlash for doing such a character at a drag pageant, but it won most creative and the category! Watch the performance video >

“Drag is all about what you make it. Yes there are certain things that I’ve learned to follow, such as padding, lashes, nails, but when it comes to limits, there are none. Creativity is key. I don’t like always being a regular face or a “pretty girl”. I love using wild colors, painting as different characters, and making my visions come to life. Being the same gets boring to me. I love spicing things up and doing the unexpected. Being original is a must in this artform. With so many queens, if you don’t bring something different to the table, then you’ll just fade into the background. And then it’s all in vein.

“This, along with many other reasons is why I have chosen to begin following my biggest dream in the drag world at this time: my dream of becoming National Entertainer of the Year! I have already started this journey by winning a prelim to qualify for states. In June I will be competing for the title of North Carolina Entertainer of the Year. From there, if I win or place first alternate, I will advance to Nationals. Of course I don’t expect to win Nationals on my first try, but I sure will try! I will pursue this dream until it is one day a reality! I am very excited for states and am hoping to blow even my own mind. This is already an unbelievable journey and I am so honored and blessed for this opportunity.

“In the process of making this dream a reality, along with the rest of whatever my journey in drag may bring, I long to leave a mark on this place called Earth. I don’t want to leave a mark out of selfishness, but a mark that inspires, motivates, and gives hope. I want others, in this world as well as outside the “outside world”, to be moved by the name Nía Diamonté. I want others to know that everything truly does happen for a reason and in the end it will all be worth it. I want them to be inspired to keep moving forward and to chase their dreams. Not to let anyone or anything in this life define them and to never settle. To press forward no matter what it looks like around you, and to never give up.

Nia Diamonte North Carolina Drag Queen 02“If I would have given up, there would have been no Nía. I would have never found happiness or began achieving my dream. So many people give up too soon, as I almost did, and never know what it’s like to truly be happy. Everyone deserves happiness. I want others to know my story, and to know that it does get better.

“Life is short. We must take the time granted to us and make the most of it.

“I am forever thankful for the opportunities and the people brought into my life because of drag. I am mostly grateful for such a loving partner who cherishes both Ernest and Nía and ensures that they are both taken care of the best that they can be. I have been blessed with an incredible drag family that has taken the place of my real family. Without these people, my life would be a mess. I’m also very blessed to meet all of the people that I come in contact with through drag. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t know half of the people in my life right now. I am also so very humbled by the countless opportunities I’m given because of drag. To name them all would take all day, but I hold each experience dear. And last but not least, I’m humbled that I get the opportunity to share it with a public audience, you guys. Especially social media. It has given me a stage like none other to showcase Nía and that is a tremendous thing! So fasten your seat belts and prepare for a bumpy ride, because we aren’t stopping until we reach the top!

“Never give up and always be true to who you are!”

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