‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Judge Michelle Visage on Franchise’s 11 Emmy Nominations: ‘I Have to Pinch Myself’

TheWrap magazine: “There’s not an ounce, an ion, on my body that takes that for granted every time they call our name,” Visage said

Michelle Visage / Getty Images

This story about Michelle Visage and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” first appeared in the Down to the Wire: Comedy issue of TheWrap’s awards magazine.

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” has had the Outstanding Competition Program Emmy win on lock since 2018, but just hearing the show was nominated once again in 2022 left judge Michelle Visage awestruck. “I have to pinch myself every time ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ is announced,” Visage said. “It does not go unnoticed, unloved, unworshipped, unaccepted. There’s not an ounce, an ion, on my body that takes that for granted every time they call our name.

“There were nine years that we weren’t even acknowledged by the Academy. So each time that we are nominated, it’s like, ‘Oh, my goodness. This is really happening.’”

2022 brought the World of Wonder franchise 11 total Emmy nominations, including host (for RuPaul Charles), cinematography, sound mixing, picture editing, casting, directing and production design for the mothership. Visage’s spinoff show, “Whatcha Packin’?” — in which she interviews eliminated queens — also got a nod for Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction Or Reality Series, which she learned about while sitting in her car in her driveway about to head out to the set.

“My husband comes running out, he’s like ‘Why are you beeping?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, my God, “Whatcha Packin’?” was nominated,’” Visage said. “And the fact that I’m in the company that I’m in is almost ridiculous, that I’m in with (fellow nominees) Samantha Bee, ‘SNL,’ Trevor Noah, ‘Top Chef.’ For me, it was a moment. I still can’t believe it. I’m this little girl from Central Jersey who’s living my dream. And like, my name is in with those people.”

The franchise’s 2022 Emmy nominations haul capped off another banner TV season for “Drag Race,” which has been bringing queer culture to television screens stateside for 13 years. And one of the most meaningful parts of the show for many of those involved is being able to tell the stories of the show’s queens, nearly all of whom are members of the queer community.

This year, one contestant — Jasmine Kennedie — came out as a transgender woman on the show, crediting one of her fellow contestants, Kerri Colby, for helping her see her truth. By the time the grand finale rolled around, three of Kennedie’s sisters also came out, something they opened up about on the series.

“I think we’re just really lucky to have a channel that lets us be free,” Visage said. “And World of Wonder is the most fabulous, fabulous production company that knows how to nurture that and encourage that and make it a safe space for that to get on air, you know? Because it really is important for those stories to be aired.

“These people are realizing something that’s going to shift and change their life in some way in that moment, and they’re sharing it with the world and with their sisters on the show. It is so beautiful and freeing and rewarding and loving to see that happen, and to see them fall into the arms and the space of the people that love and care about them.”

Read more from the Down to the Wire: Comedy issue here.

Photo by Steve Schofield for TheWrap