Steve Warren and Johnnie Ingram Interview: ‘We’re Here’ creators
The idea of the show, “We’re Here,” came to creators Steve Warren and Johnnie Ingram while they were on vacation and happened to catch some episodes of “RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars.” “What would happen if we actually took the politics of our lives and we put ‘Drag Race’ together with that? What would happen if we took drag queens and put them in small towns,” says Warren in our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video above). He adds that they both knew exactly what they wanted the show to be, including which drag queens they wanted to feature. “We absolutely knew we wanted the three queens that we got and never talked to anybody else.”
“We’re Here” is a docuseries on HBO that features Eureka O’Hara, Shangela Laquifa Wadley and Bob the Drag Queen going to small towns across the country and helping locals put on drag show. The locals that are enlisted to come on include people that are gay, straight and everything in between. In addition to seeing their performances, we also get to see the participants deal with deep issues in their lives and how they hope drag will lead them to rise above them. Warren and Ingram both have backgrounds working in entertainment, with Warren being an entertainment lawyer and Ingram having a background in advertising.
As with any type of documentary, there were many things that the creators wished they could have included but weren’t able to. Ingram recalls one specific instance he loved. “Shangela riding a motorcycle with Randy, Hunter’s dad. That’s epic! It was real heartbreaking not to include it.” Warren cites a performance by Lady Shug, a non-binary indigenous performer, from the episode in Farmington, New Mexico. In a weird twist, when COVID-19 shut down production and the two had to scrape together material for the sixth episode, they got to include Lady Shug’s performance in it. Warren explains, “That was probably one of my most special moments that I think we experienced while we were watching it.”
The show has been renewed for a second season and even though they’re currently looking at where they will travel to for it, Warren has some ideas of where he’d like to take the show. He tells us, “I would love to go to Alaska. I would love to go to a small fishing village that’s only reachable by seaplane and I’d love to just see what happens there.” Ingram adds that he would love to go to Eastern Tennessee since it’s not only where he grew up, but where Eureka did as well. “It’ll be hard to go back but I think it’s important.”