The main purpose of RuPaul's Drag Race is to support and uplift the art of drag. But there's still (and always will be) room for improvement when it comes to representing people of all backgrounds. That's why Plastique Tiara joined Season 11 — to proudly represent her Vietnamese roots.
It's been a while since two Asian queens were featured on one season, the last time being Season 4 with Jiggly Caliente and Phi Phi O'Hara. Unfortunately, queen Soju was the first to sashay away from Season 11, but Plastique was a fierce competitor. Following her April 25 exit, she tells Bustle being on the show helped her to embrace every part of her identity, especially the intersection of her queerness and life as a first-generation American immigrant. For Plastique, a particularly emotional werkroom chat with Ru completely changed her perspective.
As she prepared her "Farm to Runway" look during Episode 7, Ru asked Plastique why she seemed so calculated and reserved in the competition, and encouraged her to be herself in every sense of the word, rather than striving to be perfect and polished. She said she held back because of her strict upbringing, and the fact that she was never free to fully express herself.
"I felt very loved in that moment," Plastique tells Bustle. "You know, my family's not very affectionate, and growing up, I had very [few] friends and people who would understand me. So for someone like RuPaul, who [I look up to] to really take the time to listen to me and embrace me and telling me that I'm gonna be OK, and that I have a new family, it's very comforting."
That's when she came out of her shell and fully embraced what was inside. That's when she realized that she wasn't just there to be named America's next drag superstar — she was there to be seen for every part of who she is.
The judges and her Season 11 sisters gave Plastique flack for often embracing an Asian accent during the acting challenges, but she says it was important for her to represent. "The immigrant life is very hard ... it can only be lived through, rather than written about or spoken about ... it was important for me to represent my truth and to represent my culture, and to do it on a national and worldwide level with grace," she says. "And that was my purpose going into the show."
Representing not just the Asian community, but the queer Asian community — "to maybe help someone out there who's like me," she says — was far more important to Plastique than winning a crown. And now that her Drag Race journey is over and people know who she is, those efforts will only continue to grow.
"I'm just a little Vietnamese, first-generation immigrant who is trying to conquer the world," she says. "I guess we'll just have to see, but this won't be the last of me, for sure."