10 Lessons ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Can Teach Anyone About The Creative World

1. “You better work!”

People keep saying “you’re so talented!” as if that’s enough to guarantee success. Or else they say “I’ve got talent” and then take it as a reason to clock out on work.

The truth is that talent is nothing if you don’t put in the work for it, and the queens show us that Every. Damn. Week. You think any of them coast on talent? No ma’am. Not when there is a ballgown to be made out of curtains in 24 hours.

2. If you don’t put in the work, it shows.

Don’t think you can hide behind old laurels. You may be the most awesome queen on the show, if you don’t prepare what they ask you to, you’ll get burned. Same goes in creative industries. You can be awesome, if you don’t deliver what they told you to deliver, you’re going to have to deal with the consequences of that.

3. You can’t always choose your creative partners.

Ru said, “Don’t blame the editing” and Ru is right. At some point in life, you’re going to have to work with people you do not like, and/or you do not understand, and/or who rub you the wrong way. You can’t always pick your team, and even when you do, they might not be what you expected them to be.

4. You won’t always like your creative partners.

Same as point 3, but amp it up. Look, it’s all well and good when best friends work together and support one another, but on Drag Race, you’re as likely to work with your worst enemy as you are to collaborate with a queen you like. You can’t clock out because the project depends on both of you. If you do, you know it’s going to be you lip-synching for your life, not them.

5. You gotta take criticism on the chin.

Anybody working in any kind of creative industry knows criticism is part and parcel of what we do. Not everyone’s gonna love your work, and you gotta be able to listen to them without clapping back or taking it to be an attack to you as a person.

Let’s face it – anybody who mouths off at the judges is looking to get roasted. (Unless you’re Bianca. In which case the judges will be like: “Do me, do me!”)

6. “Get out of your own head!”

Your work is not you. That means you need to disengage healthily from it, or else you’re only going to be okay when the work goes okay. (Plus, most artists are perfectionist af – as far as we go, the work is NEVER going okay.)

Fact – people don’t always have good days, bodies get sick, the economy depends on the whims of selfish gits, and we all gotta bring in the bacon. You can’t depend on heaps of external validation to thrive. You gotta be able to deliver even when your head is screaming at you that you’re failing.

7. Use the bad stuff for good.

How many times has Ru come into the workroom and advised the queens on digging deep into their own hurt and using the criticisms they receive to shine brighter? The queens who pay attention go on to do amazing things.

And that’s the thing – being artistic means having to work with all sorts of negativity. Sometimes our materials are literal junk. Sometimes they are the figurative kind. We all have to pull through anyway.

8. You’ve got to embrace difference.

I have to say, I have SUCH a love for Sharon Needles, not just because she is a fierce, amazing queen, but also because she seemed so misunderstood in Season 4 (I guess that could have been the editing?) Her drag wasn’t everyone else’s drag, and she was misunderstood and typecast. But that opened the doors for so many other queens who did the same thing. Same with Jinx Monsoon in season 5. Both of them showed there was a lot more to them than what meets the eye at first, and that you should not dismiss someone just because you don’t get what they’re doing.

9. Pay attention to what they’re asking you.

I think the best part about Season 8 (well, one of the best parts) was when the queens were asked to do challenges from previous seasons and ended up realizing how much more difficult it is than when they first watched it on the show. And that’s true. But they were also ready for it. You have to pay attention to what is being asked of you, otherwise, you’re wasting your time. Things like: “I didn’t know we’d have to saw!” or “ANOTHER acting challenge” belong in Season 1.

10. When it’s down to the wire, you gotta go hard, or go home.

So you were unlucky. You’re lip-synching for your life. Are you going to stand there and just mouth the words, or are you going to bring your everything?

Fact – any one assignment can be our last in the industry. Shit happens. Teams get downgraded, or you have to take on a new job because this one isn’t paying you enough. Sure, you can clock out. But if this is your last chance, your last opportunity to be remembered, wouldn’t you rather leave behind something truly special?

As Ru says, “We’re all born naked and the rest is drag.”

The art is what we live for. TC mark

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