RuPaul Charles

Host / Producer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his one-hour interview, RuPaul Charles talks about his early life, and the influence shows like The Flip Wilson Show and Monty Python’s Flying Circus had on him. He recalls “finding his tribe” in Atlanta, and moving to New York City where he met Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, who would be instrumental in his career. He discusses his big breakthrough, the song “Supermodel,” which got heavy airplay on MTV and won him a spot on The Arsenio Hall Show. Charles chronicles hosting The RuPaul Show on VH1, and hosting guests including Cher and Diana Ross. He recounts the creation of RuPaul’s Drag Race, and details the many aspects of the show that have made it a success. He concludes by discussing career achievements, and what he’s learned from television. Jodi Delaney conducted the interview on June 25, 2018 in Sylmar, CA.

"Everything I’ve learned, I learned from television. I used to watch The Mike Douglas Show after school and it taught me about jazz when he would have Ella and Sarah on... I learned how to find my tribe from Monty Python. I learned how to emcee a show from watching Cher and Diana Ross specials. And I learned how to articulate an esoteric idea from watching David Bowie. So everything I know, I learned from television."

Highlights
RuPaul Charles on discovering drag, and being influenced by Flip Wilson's character "Geraldine"
02:40
RuPaul Charles on his breakthrough hit song "Supermodel"
02:46
RuPaul Charles on the catchphrases and tag lines of RuPaul's Drag Race
04:37
RuPaul Charles on what he learned from television
01:20
RuPaul Charles on the contestants of RuPaul's Drag Race
04:35
RuPaul Charles on appearing on The Arsenio Hall Show, and on losing his mother
03:35
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on his name; on realizing he was an artist and finding "his tribe" in Atlanta
08:19
On his first time on television, on the Atlanta public access show The American Music Show; on discovering drag, and being influenced by Flip Wilson's character "Geraldine"; on moving to New York City and meeting Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato
12:09
On his breakthrough hit song "Supermodel"; on appearing on The Arsenio Hall Show, and on losing his mother; on his message as a performer
10:34
On hosting The RuPaul Show on VH1; on the guests of The RuPaul Show including Cher and Diana Ross; on the pressures of being black and gay during the run of The RuPaul Show and on RuPaul's Drag Race
06:42
On how RuPaul's Drag Race came about; on the contestants of RuPaul's Drag Race; on the judges of RuPaul's Drag Race
10:17
On the catchphrases and tag lines of RuPaul's Drag Race; on the many hats he wears in the production of RuPaul's Drag Race; on the legacy of RuPaul's Drag Race and winning an Emmy for the show
10:55
On separating his public and private personas; on advice to aspiring television personalities and on career achievements; on what he learned from television; on how he would like to be remembered
05:55
Shows

Arsenio Hall Show, The

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RuPaul Charles on appearing on The Arsenio Hall Show, and on losing his mother
03:35

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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RuPaul Charles on winning an Emmy for RuPaul's Drag Race
01:46

Flip Wilson Show, The

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RuPaul Charles on discovering drag, and being influenced by Flip Wilson's character "Geraldine" on The Flip Wilson Show
02:40

RuPaul Show, The

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RuPaul Charles on hosting The RuPaul Show on VH1
02:17
RuPaul Charles on the guests of The RuPaul Show, including Diana Ross and Cher
02:20
RuPaul Charles on the pressures of being black and gay during the run of The RuPaul Show and on RuPaul's Drag Race
02:04

RuPaul's Drag Race

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RuPaul Charles on the pressures of being black and gay during the run of The RuPaul Show and on RuPaul's Drag Race
02:04
RuPaul Charles on how RuPaul's Drag Race came about
04:55
RuPaul Charles on the contestants of RuPaul's Drag Race, and their courage and vulnerability
04:35
RuPaul Charles on the judges of RuPaul's Drag Race
00:47
RuPaul Charles on the catchphrases and tag lines of RuPaul's Drag Race
04:37
RuPaul Charles on the many hats he wears in the production of RuPaul's Drag Race
02:56
RuPaul Charles on the legacy and message of RuPaul's Drag Race
01:37
RuPaul Charles on winning an Emmy for RuPaul's Drag Race
01:46
Topics

Advice

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RuPaul Charles on advice anyone starting out in the entertainment industry
00:37

Characters & Catchphrases

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RuPaul Charles on the catchphrases and tag lines of RuPaul's Drag Race
04:37

Diversity in Television

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RuPaul Charles on the pressures of being black and gay during the run of The RuPaul Show and on RuPaul's Drag Race
02:06
RuPaul Charles on the legacy and message of RuPaul's Drag Race
01:37
RuPaul Charles on the contestants of RuPaul's Drag Race, and their courage and vulnerability
04:35
RuPaul Charles on his message as a performer
04:13

Emmy Awards

View Topic
RuPaul Charles on winning an Emmy for RuPaul's Drag Race
01:46

Fame and Celebrity

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RuPaul Charles on separating his public and private personas
02:04

First Big Break

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RuPaul Charles on his breakthrough hit song "Supermodel"
02:46

Historic Events and Social Change

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RuPaul Charles on the pressures of being black and gay during the run of The RuPaul Show and on RuPaul's Drag Race
RuPaul Charles on the legacy and message of RuPaul's Drag Race
01:37
RuPaul Charles on the contestants of RuPaul's Drag Race, and their courage and vulnerability
04:35
RuPaul Charles on his message as a performer
04:13

LGBTQ

View Topic
RuPaul Charles on the pressures of being black and gay during the run of The RuPaul Show and on RuPaul's Drag Race
02:06
RuPaul Charles on the legacy and message of RuPaul's Drag Race
01:37
RuPaul Charles on the contestants of RuPaul's Drag Race, and their courage and vulnerability
04:35
RuPaul Charles on his message as a performer
04:13

Minorities

View Topic
RuPaul Charles on the pressures of being black and gay during the run of The RuPaul Show and on RuPaul's Drag Race
02:06
RuPaul Charles on the legacy and message of RuPaul's Drag Race
01:37
RuPaul Charles on the contestants of RuPaul's Drag Race, and their courage and vulnerability
04:35
RuPaul Charles on his message as a performer
04:13

Pivotal Career Moments

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RuPaul Charles on his breakthrough hit song "Supermodel"
02:46

Pop Culture

View Topic
RuPaul Charles on his name
01:31
RuPaul Charles on separating his public and private personas
02:04
RuPaul Charles on the catchphrases and tag lines of RuPaul's Drag Race
04:37

Television Industry

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RuPaul Charles on advice anyone starting out in the entertainment industry
00:29
Professions

Performers

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RuPaul Charles on his message as a performer
04:13
Genres

Game Shows

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RuPaul Charles on hosting RuPaul's Drag Race
21:13

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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RuPaul Charles on hosting The RuPaul Show on VH1
06:42

Reality TV

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RuPaul Charles on hosting RuPaul's Drag Race
21:13

Talk Shows

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RuPaul Charles on appearing on The Arsenio Hall Show, and on losing his mother
03:35
RuPaul Charles on hosting The RuPaul Show on VH1
06:44
People

Cher

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RuPaul Charles on the guests of The RuPaul Show, including Diana Ross and Cher
02:20

Arsenio Hall

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RuPaul Charles on appearing on The Arsenio Hall Show, and on losing his mother
03:35

Diana Ross

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RuPaul Charles on the guests of The RuPaul Show, including Diana Ross and Cher
02:20

Flip Wilson

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RuPaul Charles on discovering drag, and being influenced by Flip Wilson's character "Geraldine" on The Flip Wilson Show
02:40

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