Alongside co-star Farrah Moan, Crystal Harding and an array of “fierce local queens,” “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 11 Miss Congeniality Nina West will be starring in a Drag Queen Brunch Feb. 23 at Andiamo’s Celebrity showroom in Warren. Catching a moment to chat with Between The Lines in-between tour stops across the U.K., the Columbus, Ohio, native talked about her time on the show, life post-“Drag Race” and her extensive philanthropy.
You auditioned nine times before you were cast on Season 11 of Drag Race. What took you so long?
I think part of it is I was presenting myself as a version of what I thought the producers wanted instead of just being my authentic self. I also believe everything happens when it supposed to, so it wasn’t my time yet. I’m benefiting it from being it being my time now.
Once on the show, how did filming it meet your expectations? Or did it not?
I don’t know if was the filming of the show or just that the situation itself was so different from anything I was expecting it to be. It’s reality television. I had never filmed reality television before. I just went into the experience ready to try my best.
How do you feel about how you did on the show?
I’m thrilled with the outcome. I’m thrilled the world got to see who I really am. I’m thrilled I got to do the things I did on the show and show my creativity. I think the show did me justice. The show takes what you give them and tells your story however you let it unfold, and I was lucky enough to have my story told.
Were you surprised to win Miss Congeniality or you knew you had it in the bag?
I was surprised. After knowing that I wasn’t going to be in the final four I wanted it but I didn’t think necessarily that I had it locked down. So I was thrilled my fellow cast members thought that I deserved it and gave me that award.
Your season aired just a year ago, and you’ve been very busy since. I saw you in December hosting “A Drag Queen Christmas,” which was a big tour. Now you’re in Europe traveling extensively with “The Magnificent Nina West Show.” How are you finding life on the road?
I love it. I love being able to see the world and have these really unique experiences with fans. I’m finding out more about myself and my drag. I never thought I’d go abroad and here I am opening a show in London tonight. So it’s surreal and amazing and I Iove every minute of it.
You’re quite the philanthropist. How did you come to create the Nina West Foundation?
The charity aspect really started when I first had a platform to stand on in Columbus. When I got my first big show I incorporated charity and that’s been 18 years ago. After about a decade, the Nina West Foundation came into place and to ensure that my giving was legitimized and seen as a tremendous value to the community. I’ve given to organizations all over the world
And to date you’ve raised over $2 million?
It’s a little bit more now. That was what the accurate figure about two years ago when I left for filming. And I’d say it’s far surpassed that now. When I was eliminated on season 11, funds came pouring in from all over the world because people were upset by my elimination. My charity fund has really been impacted and grown because of my time on “Drag Race.”
I was also impressed that the first thing folks see when they visit your website is the opportunity to purchase a T-shirt to benefit wildlife rescue in Australia.
I partnered with a local T-shirt brand in Columbus, Ohio, called Homage. I had worked with them before on other projects but I wanted to collaborate with them to do something about the bush fires. I was in Australia last year for the tour and I was just deeply impacted hearing about all these bush fires and how many people have been affected. And particularly ,the animal community has been so affected. So I went into my rolodex and called Homage and it turned out to be a great thing.
Nina West and Farrah Moan will be starring in a Drag Queen Brunch at the Andiamo Celebrity Showroom in Warren on Sunday, Feb. 23. The show will be hosted by Detroit’s own Crystal Harding and also feature other local performers as well as a buffet and mimosa bar. Tickets for the show, which range from $49 to 89, are available from ticketmaster.com.