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This Day In History: November 17th
Whether you know RuPaul from his popular television shows or his career in drag and dance music, his charismatic personality is sure to capture attention. He brought the world of drag to national recognition over the years and serves as a major voice of the LGBTQ+ community.
Here are five things to know about RuPaul!
- RuPaul Before The Fame. RuPaul Andre Charles was born on November 17, 1960, in San Diego, California. He relocated to Atlanta, Georgia with one of his sisters after his parents separated. Although he did not graduate, RuPaul attended Northside School of Performing Arts where he got his first glimpse of being a performer. By the 1980s, RuPaul decided to embrace his desire to perform and assembled the band RuPaul and the U-Hauls. The group’s popularity grew and they became regulars on a show called The American Music Show.
- The Rise Of RuPaul’s Drag Race. In 2009, he premiered his hit series, RuPaul’s Drag Race. The show has been on for more than a decade and has since evolved from a small show on Logo TV to an Emmy award-winning series. Contestants compete in a variety of challenges with the hopes of becoming the next big superstar in the world of drag. The series has been the source of inspiration for several spinoff shows including RuPaul’s Drag U (2010), RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race (2020) and RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under (2021). The original show has received more than 20 Emmys as well as MTV Movie + Television Awards, Critics’ Choice awards and People’s Choice awards.
- More Than A Queen On Stage. In addition to being known for his legendary personality and stage presence, RuPaul is also a successful recording artist, model, talk show host and author. In 1991, RuPaul signed a recording contract with Tommy Boy Records and debuted his first album, Supermodel of the World, two years later. In 1994, RuPaul made his film debut in the movie Crooklyn, and began making appearances in other productions such as The Brady Bunch Movie (1995) and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995). He followed up his newfound fame with the release of his autobiography, Lettin’ It All Hang Out in 1995 and signed on as a model with MAC cosmetics. Towards the end of the decade, RuPaul was even the host of his own talk show that aired until 1998.
- Activism And Inspiring A New Generation. The proclaimed Queen of Manhattan used his platform to inspire younger members of the LGBTQ+ community. Many of RuPaul’s peers credit him for bringing attention to drag culture and he pays homage by incorporating the history into some of the challenges featured on his show. He is a prominent member of the community and became an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights throughout his career. He has helped to launch the careers of more than 100 drag queens and even aided in fundraising efforts to combat and raise awareness for AIDS.
- Achievements And Accolades. RuPaul has been recognized for his talents in a variety of ways. He is a multi-Emmy Award winner with his own wax figure at Madame Tussauds Museum. In addition to his awards, RuPaul was also named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2017. He has graced the covers of other magazines such as Entertainment Weekly and Vanity Fair. His talents even earned him a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame which was presented to him by Jane Fonda in March 2018. He joined the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Quincy Jones and Barbra Streisand with his 2019 induction into the California Hall Of Fame.
He is known and supported by his millions of fans worldwide but continues to find ways to introduce himself to new audiences. Throughout RuPaul’s career, he has been able to successfully establish himself as a legend in America’s drag scene.