Shangela Was Handpicked by Lady Gaga for 'A Star Is Born' Role
"I was very thankful that [Lady Gaga] and Bradley Cooper both trusted me with this role and that I could do it," the 'RuPaul’s Drag Race' star said.
Shangela has proved herself as a RuPaul’s Drag Race legend by becoming the only queen to compete on three different seasons, but she's ready to strut from the runway to the silver screen with her supporting role in Bradley Cooper’s A Star Is Born.
The musical marks Cooper’s directorial debut and the third American remake of the original 1937 film. The Academy Award-nominated actor headlines the cast as Jackson Maine, a rock-and-roll crooner who relies heavily on alcohol to cope with his demons, and co-stars Lady Gaga as his love interest, unknown singer-songwriter Ally.
Gaga, an LGBTQ advocate, championed inclusivity on set where drag was incorporated into her character's storyline, marking her humble beginnings performing at a gay bar. The casting call originally asked for Marilyn Monroe impersonators, which led Shangela to throw in the towel.
"I just knew, honey, that no matter how much time I spent out of the sun, I wasn’t going to look like Marilyn Monroe,” she joked. "I was like, 'I probably won't go in for this audition. It's not my role.'"
Days later, Shangela received a life-altering email from Gaga's team, letting her know that the "Born This Way" singer was disappointed that the queen didn’t audition — especially since the pop star had faith in Shangela's acting abilities. The multitalented performer admitted that she didn’t need any further convincing after being handpicked by the film’s star.
"I found the nearest blonde wig and white dress, honey. Put my little beauty mark mole on and sang ‘I Wanna Be Loved by You,'" Shangela told The Hollywood Reporter. "They liked the audition so much they decided not to give me the lip-sync drag role, but to actually offer me the role that had dialogue as the drag bar owner."
The queen praised Cooper’s direction and ability to foster an authentic set where the landscape of drag was explored, not exploited.
"[Drag] wasn't a punchline. [Cooper's] character came into our experience in that world. He stumbled in not knowing what he was walking into and then openly just took it for what it was."
A Star Is Born soared to $42.6 million domestically in its opening weekend and has attracted the praise of critics who predict early Oscar buzz. Shangela said the feedback has been overwhelming and she is already plotting ways to be invited to the Academy Awards. "If I don't get an invitation, I will still be there if I have to be the bathroom attendant in my gown handing out mints and listening for our names from the door. I will do it."
Watch the video above to hear how Shangela reminded Gaga about her forgotten "performance" with Beyonce, how she shooed the Grammy winner from filming her on the set of a music video and more.
A Star Is Born is in theaters now.