The Truth About RuPaul’s Drag Race’s Denali

Season 13 of RuPaul’s Drag Race has a collection of intriguing characters and multiple “firsts” for the show. GottMilk made headlines for becoming the first transgender contestant, which led to the host changing a legendary catchphrase, as per Pink News. Among the competitors is Denali Foxx, who goes simply by Denali, and is the first cast member to hail from Alaska.

Denali lives in Chicago, Ill. but grew up in the northern state, which has greatly influenced her drag persona. In her introductory video, she said that her performances draw heavily from Alaskan and winter “elements.”

She was able to qualify for RuPaul’s Drag Race after only a few years of doing drag, but had gained a reputation as a performer in another area of expertise which helped hone her skills. Prior to committing to drag, Denali spent countless hours as a competitive figure skater.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the Drag Race contestant said she had few choices growing up. “I grew up in Alaska, and it was either figure skating, skiing, or doing drugs and getting pregnant,” Denali said, “So, I decided to pick the gayest one!” Before her big break on the show, she gained online attention with several skating videos in drag that went viral.

Figure skating formed Denali's drag career

During Denali’s intro, she said that years of skating prepared her for appearing on RuPaul’s Drag Race as it helps her filter out surrounding noise and remain laser-focused on a task at hand. Appearing on the hit show helped accomplish a childhood dream. “I always had the dream to go to the Olympics,” Denali said, “When I discovered drag I was like, ‘there’s another way I can still make it to the Olympics.'” The Alaskan-born performer says that performing drag allows her to combine all her artistic influences into one persona.

The reality show contestant was able to accomplish several lofty goals in her skating career, including touring with Cirque du Soleil. Years of studying the craft also allowed her to propel up the drag ranks. “When I found drag, it was so adjacent. The art forms are so similar: Dramatic, sparkly, performative!” she told Entertainment Weekly. The performer felt that the world of figure skating was somewhat oppressive, and described drag as “an outright rebellious art form.”

Denali has tipped her toes in several creative outlets. She has a Cameo profile where fans can pay for customized video shoutouts, and has even dabbled in the branded drink game. Partnering with a local Chicago brewery, Denali released her own line of seltzer which is infused with CBD, as per Block Club Chicago. Similar to her performances, the drink harkens back to her Alaskan roots and is called Denali’s Winter Wildflower.

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