This relative newcomer made some huge life altering decisions that put her at the head of her drag class… make way for the victory march of Valedictorian!
Thotyssey: Hello Valedictorian! So based on your name and a recent drag look you’ve created for your Insta, I was wondering what your thoughts were on current Drag Race contestant Jasmine Kennedie’s take on “graduation chaps?”
Valedictorian: Bitch stole my gig! JK! There’s definitely room for two graduates in Drag nyU, and we stan our queen.
Lol, agreed! So how was your week?
Well, I have a bad cold, my fam flew me out to Dallas to see a family member who was just diagnosed with cancer, and I just got a second part time job at Barry’s Bootcamp to afford my one bedroom. So, I’m gonna give it a 5 out of 10, haha!
Oh my goodness, that’s a lot! Real life has an annoying habit of getting in the way of our fabulosity.
Real life loves some character development.
So tell us a bit of your origin story!
Sure! I grew up in El Paso, Texas. Then I went to college and lived in San Francisco, where Valedictorian was eventually born. As a child, I was very conditioned by my Asian immigrant and Black parents to prioritize academics — so the prototypical, annoying “valedictorian” type was who I was until I graduated university and became an engineer in Silicon Valley.
At that point I felt void of an actual personality and any passions, having spent my life in stem and pushing the arts to the side (although I was really into fashion and painting). I felt super trapped in corporate, and fell into a depression my first year in tech. It took a lot of soul searching, journaling, and a first visit to NYC, but I concluded that modeling and fashion made me happy while in college, and that I wanted a career in such.
Serendipitously, in 2019, my roommate at the time forced us to go out to Target, buy $20 worth of makeup, do drag for the first time, and go out clubbing. This is when Valedictorian was born; and knowing that I wanted to leave tech / stem / academics behind, I chose the name “Valedictorian” as a memento to who I’d been up until that point.
That’s an incredible story, especially for such a young person! Do engineering skills lend themselves to drag at all?
Oh, they definitely do! Especially with with pattern making for garments. I’ve always wanted to mix more tech with drag. The designer Cameron Hughes is doing my dream job.
I’ve seen you use eclectic materials and media in your competition numbers. For Lady Liberty, you even made some balloon animals!
Yeah, I’ve learned balloon animals and balloon swallowing to pad some of my numbers.
Have you had a favorite experience from the competition scene?
When it comes to competitions, I really appreciate Polish The Queen’s “Club Kids Night” because it put me onto more club kid drag, which is definitely a growing part of my aesthetic. But honestly, any soirée in the competition scene is fun because of the performers you get to meet, and the potential for design collabs or commissions for garments that come up.
It’s a celebration of Black and POC talent at Hush that you won’t want to miss! (and at a sensible 7pm). There’ll be kings, queens, things, and musicians.
Anything else coming up?
Excellent! Finally: Jasmine aside, who’s your favorite to win this season of Drag Race?
Agh! Lady Camden got me with this last episode!
Same! Thanks, Valedictorian!