From the moment Olivia Lux walked into the competition, her smile lit up the Drag Race workroom. Olivia’s bubbly personality might have given the other queens the false sense that she would not be serious competition, but the New York City-based performer proved them wrong, eventually making it to the final five of Season 13.
Olivia scored back-to-back wins for the “Disco-Mentary” and “Bossy Rossy Reboot” challenges. While she proved she was “Strong Enough” to make it to the final five, Olivia was eventually sent packin’ by Kandy Muse, who pulled out the moves and rained glitter on the stage during their lip-sync against each other.
Olivia spoke with NewNowNext about her time on Drag Race, including what it was like getting a video message from her grandmother on Untucked, her love for Cher, and how awkward that roast was in person.
How are you feeling today? You made it to the final five!
I’m feeling great. I get to share with people I made it to the top five. The sun is shining, there’s a smile on my face always.
Love that smile. I wanted to ask, on Untucked, how did it feel to see your grandmother and mother pop up onscreen?
Oh, it was wild. We had been sequestered for so long even before the show, right? So I wasn’t able to see them for so long. It was really great to see them and to hear their love and support. Before the show, I had probably one of the biggest disagreements with my grandmother, and I’m so close with her. She’s literally my twin soul of life. It was really kind of upsetting before the show not seeing eye to eye about drag. Yeah, I’m glad to report that now that’s definitely not the case. RuPaul’s Drag Race, bringing families together, you know? It has been a wild roller coaster, but seeing them was really great when I was there, and it’s been an experience sharing it with them.
Has your grandmother been watching Drag Race?
Child, she’s been more than watching! She has been reviewing every episode, giving me all of her insight. She’s never seen any previous season, didn’t really know what it was about, and has tuned in for every single episode of Season 13.
How about the lip sync against Kandy? Going into it, how were you feeling? Were you surprised when you were asked to sashay away?
That’s a good question. I was definitely at peace with it because I was so proud of what I was able to deliver. There’s honestly nothing that I would change. Therefore, when you get asked to sashay away, it was peaceful for me particularly. But during the actual song, I was just happy to be on the main stage giving my all. And Kandy is someone I look up to, that I respect before, during, and after Drag Race. So having her stay and continue in the competition, for me, that was okay. I look up to all the people that were there, and it’s great to know that they see me as their contemporary and someone that is a formidable opponent in this competition, but more importantly, a sister.
“Strong Enough” is one of my favorite Cher songs. Are you a Cher fan?
Growing up, it wasn’t the CD or the cassette that was immediately in the music player, but I definitely have an affinity for it. Cher has definitely grown on me particularly. And I love that song. It was very metaphorical for me — like, just happening to be strong enough as a diamond, and the design on my outfit was a diamond. It was all very metaphorical and just really serene for me in and out.
You kind of touched on this, but I would think that while it’s sad to be walking away from the competition, there must also be some relief because it must be so stressful. It’s the Olympics of Drag.
Yeah. I think my grandmother says it best that I would have it no other way. We all are like, “Oh, it’s so stressful. I cannot believe it.” But we live for it, right? We live for those moments. And I think we live for it because we live for the challenges. That’s what allows us to grow. It’s all growing pains. There were times where things were really stressful. I remember specifically, for me, during the “Disco-Mentary” challenge, I had to take some time away from the group and I let out some tears because it was very difficult. That was the challenge that I succeeded in, and I actually was able to win. It all ends up working itself out in the end.
What was going on in your head when Ru asked all the girls on stage who should go home tonight, and you weren’t answering at first? Were you hoping that you could just run out the clock and maybe Ru would skip over you?
No, I was going through the Rolodex of people. Every time I thought I had an answer, I would say to myself, “Well, actually, no, because that person, I could definitely see them being in the top four,” and then I would go to the next person. It was a little easier for other people because I don’t think they saw me in the top four because of how everything unraveled, and they saw that I had areas for growth. However, me personally, I could definitely see myself growing into that, and I felt like I had done what I needed to do to get into that spot. I was going through the Rolodex, and there just weren’t any names that were coming out.
If you could go back in time, would you change your answer, or are you glad that you stuck with Kandy?
The only thing that I would have added to my answer is the fact that a lot of the other girls answers were, “Olivia because she has a lot of growing to do.” And I think I would have answered to that a bit more in saying that even though you have a crown on your head and you’re America’s next drag superstar, no one ever stops growing. We should always challenge ourselves to continue pushing the envelope and growing, not only as artists, but as people. That’s why my answer is not myself. It’s not a point of discussion for someone’s disadvantage in the competition that they need more growth. I see that as an advantage.
I wanted to ask about the roast. You had some funny jokes, but parts with the other queens were awkward to watch. What was it like on set?
It wasn’t truly awkward. At the end of the day, there are some jokes that land and some jokes that don’t. That is kind of the way it works. The air in the room was so much more light that day, I specifically remember. I think it was because we didn’t have an audience, so there was no real gauge of that. Everyone was just having fun. Even the people that did not land their jokes, we were just laughing and just being like, “This really isn’t the most well executed joke, but a commendable try,” and that’s all I could even ask for for certain jokes in my set because it was difficult. I think we all had fun with it.
You talked about growth. How did Drag Race change your drag?
It’s funny because I distinctly remember I had some branding obstacles on the show. I was trying to figure out my moment. And Ru said, “Oh, that’s going to come later on. You’re going to watch yourself on TV, and it literally is going to be right there in front of you. You’ll be able to see everything. It’s tangible now.” I think that is such a great point and moment for someone’s drag career: seeing yourself on RuPaul’s Drag Race, seeing all the runways together, seeing yourself and how you put out your artistry to the world and how that resonates with people. So because of that, I’m able now to see, for example, that my smile and my positivity is something that is actually like an identity of mine, you know what I mean? I see myself as a positive person. It’s kind of who I am. And that trickles in and channels into my artistry as Olivia Lux. That didn’t connect for me in the branding terms and in the whole growth of my art and my character until after the show. So yeah, it’s kind of cool to see it all unravel now.
Where did the name Olivia Lux come from? Are you a big Vox Lux fan?
Olivia comes from Olivia Pope from Scandal, a fierce Black leading woman. And Lux comes from the Latin word for light. A lot of people think lux comes from “luxurious,” which is cute. But I definitely see it as that love and light, walking into every single room and just lighting it up, lighting it up on stage.
I love that. Well, you definitely light up a room. Congrats on making it to the top five. I can’t wait to see you in person. Hopefully you’re going to be back on the New York City stage when the clubs and bars reopen.
Absolutely. Hopefully I’ll be able to tackle some bigger stages — something along the lines of Broadway, something that is definitely musical.
I write about drag queens. Dolly Parton once ruffled my hair and said I was “just the cutest thing ever.”