Naomi Smalls captured the hearts of millions when she used Season 8 of RuPaul’s Drag Race to show us all that drag and fashion can exist in the same world. Now that she’s back for All Stars 4, she’s letting us all know that her talent doesn’t only exist on the shopping rack.
Legs for days and fashionably stunning, Naomi is one of the youngest contestants to compete in the series’ herstory. With only two years of drag experience before coming to the show, Naomi describes herself as a baby. Smalls has now traveled the country, starred in her own YouTube series, Small’s World, where she documents her life while touring, co-hosted WoWPresents’ internet series M.U.G. with KimChi, where they critique queens’ makeup looks, and recently released a music video for her first single, “Pose.”
Naomi’s platform will continue to grow while she is on All Stars 4, and we had the pleasure of chatting more with her about the show and her success.
Hello, Naomi! Happy New Year! Any resolutions for 2019?
Happy 2019! I went into the beginning of 2018 with some unresolved grievances, a very negative outlook on life, and was actually at a point where I wanted to quit drag. What got me out of this funk was stepping back from the pressure to constantly please everyone, and I started setting goals for myself that I knew I would be proud of. These changes have shifted my outlook on life. I realized that as I get older, my resolutions need to always have my best interest at heart.
I’m loving seeing you again on Drag Race. What went through your mind when you were asked back?
When I received the call to come back to compete on Drag Race again, I definitely had to weigh my pros and cons. The fear of going back into a competition and going home sooner than I did on Season 8 was crippling. However, I left Drag Race the first time feeling like it was the most fun and life-changing experience I have ever had. I would have regretted not returning to show how much I had grown since then. Once I gave myself a pep talk and had a conversation with my Mom, I knew I was all in for All Stars 4.
Take us back to when you re-entered the workroom for All Stars; how was that?
I remember entering the workroom first on Season 8 and being terrified! Twenty-one years old, 130 pounds soaking wet at 6’7″ (in heels), and all I saw was cameras. This time, it was so refreshing to go into the workroom knowing what to somewhat expect and with a whole different level of confidence. Although, I do regret not saying ‘It’s a SMALLS world after all.”
Your Wendy Williams was hilarious! You were really channeling her. How did you decide to impersonate her?
Wendy Williams changed my life. People love to challenge me and scoff when I say that my favorite daytime diva taught me so much about myself, but it’s true. It was such an honor to impersonate somebody that I look up to so much. Wendy has taught me to “say it like you mean it.’ If you believe in something, voice it, and that you are the strongest person that you know. Going into Snatch Game doing a character that I love and was prepared for was a much nicer experience.
You have one of the strongest aesthetics out of all the Drag Race alum. How important is fashion in the drag world?
Thank you so much for saying that. I have a lot of fun presenting the editorials and concepts that I come up with inside my noggin. Fashion for me has been a passion for as long as I can remember. Being able to transform instantly has always caught my attention. Fashion changes you outwardly but also on the inside. The level of confidence that comes when throwing on a pair of heels or corset is incredible. Confidence is what I see first when looking at models’ grace the runway, and then I dissect what’s making them look so fierce.
How important is drag in the fashion world?
Fashion is very important for Naomi Smalls, but what I like to remind people is: I am a drag queen who loves fashion. I think as drag moves further into the mainstream, designers have been inspired by the creative minds of drag queens. There have been some amazing collaborations, and I’m excited to see what is to come for the fashion world.
What legacy do you hope to leave on both of those industries?
I hope that I leave a beacon of hope for anyone watching Drag Race that has a dream. I have been watching RuPaul’s Drag Race since I was in high school and never thought that I would be in a position where, not only am I considered to be one of the best of the best, but living my dream. Even faced with doubt from myself, peers, family, and friends as a baby queen, I knew that if I wanted to make something happen, I was going to have to work hard and believe in myself.
You’re part of the most diverse Drag Race cast that we’ve ever seen. How important is it that we highlight more intersectional queer entertainers?
This season is very diverse, but I do not believe RuPaul’s Drag Race has ever struggled with showing different walks of life and has been inclusive to everyone. Just like how I hope to be a beacon for dreamers, I enjoy that Rupaul’s Drag Race creates a space for everyone to feel like they belong. Diversifying pop culture has surely helped young people find their confidence and place in the world.
The creation of “Pose” has been the most fun I have had in my seven years of drag. Through this process, I realized my passion for art direction. It requires a lot more than just putting looks together and allows me to create a more complete image. “Pose” is for sure my baby along with music producer Cameron Traxxx and director Todd Diederich.
Do you plan on making more music and videos?
When Naomi was born, I never imagined music would be in her future, but “Pose” really changed my mind. Adding different elements like music into stage presence and ensemble helps the whole concept of Naomi come together. I do plan on releasing more music and videos.
What’s next for Naomi Smalls?
I would love to keep challenging myself with art direction opportunities, whether it be projects that include Naomi Smalls or projects that do not. I am open to exploring new avenues. For now, I’m gonna keep working on my current projects. Keep your eyes peeled for a new Small’s World coming your way.