When “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season 12 airs its grand finale on Friday, May 29th it will be like no other before it. Instead of the live Lip Sync for the Crown in front of an audience that we’re accustomed to from the last three seasons, this year’s finalists Crystal Methyd, Gigi Goode and Jaida Essence Hall, will each showcase a solo lip sync virtually from home. After those three performances, RuPaul Charles will eliminate one of them, leaving the other two to battle it out head to head in one final lip sync to determine who takes the crown.
This season’s finalists could not be more different from one another so we’ve decided to shine a spotlight on each of them ahead of Friday’s finale. Below is our take on Jaida Essence Hall, her journey to the finale and what it would mean to have her declared “America’s next drag superstar.”
Week after week, Jaida served us true glamour, a visual aesthetic that made her an effective and successful pageant queen prior to the show. Her runway presentations were predominantly evening gowns with perfectly styled wigs and the most gorgeous makeup application of any queen this season. When stacked up against pageant and/or glamour queens of the best, Jaida is at the absolute top. While other girls from the pageant world have made successful careers for themselves since the show (thinking of Alyssa Edwards, for instance), none have ever performed or placed as well as Jaida has this season.
But Jaida made it clear that she is very much more than just a pageant queen. Her biggest moment of the season came in one of the most unexpected challenges, the political debate. After struggling in the stretch of acting and improv challenges of episodes 5, 6, 7 and 8, Jaida shined brightest in episode 9, “Choices 2020.” There she coined the catch phrase “look over there!” as a part of her character as a political candidate that wasn’t very knowledgeable. That week Jaida earned her second challenge win and then followed it up the next week with a third, reminding everyone that she was a threat and that she has the goods to eventually win.
Over the course of the season Jaida has amassed a substantial and vocal fan base that calls themselves “Hall Monitors.” For a queen from the pageant world to strike such a chord with an audience that typically supports comedy and/or fashion queens with more fervor shows just how widely embraced Jaida’s sense of glamour and her surprising comedic chops are. I think what makes Jaida so successful as a crossover talent is that her style of drag has the potential to be less isolating than most styles that pigeon-hole a queen into one specific area. Jaida is both a bitch and a sweetheart, fashionable and rough around the edges, and funny when she wants to be but beautiful and composed, too. She can be so many things at once that to have her serve as queen supreme would show that hard work, perseverance and dedication to the art of true drag can in fact lead to success.
Who do YOU want to win? Do you think Jaida is deserving or will she be bested by Gigi or Crystal? Sound off in the comments below.