Drag Star, Disney Icon, Kids Book Author

Nina West

photograph: Max Florey

Being a multi-hyphenate actress is something Nina West knows well. Win over Miss Congeniality Ru Paul’s Drag Race Season 11, partnering with Dolly Parton on Kindness Campaign, creating a children’s musical, starring opposite Daniel Radcliffe Weird: The Al Yankovic Story, Becoming the face of LGBTQ Pride of Disney important, And Children’s book release – West is doing it all in heels and a wig that touches the sky.

Speaking of that children’s book: your kind west The goal is to spread awareness that kindness is needed more than ever, especially with legislation with the potential to endanger LGBTQ youth across the United States. io9 recently sat down with her to talk about her inspiration, working with fellow Disney creative illustrator Hayden Evans, what the season means to her, and her favorite things. Disney park During the holidays.

Sabina Graves, io9: Hi Nina! I must start by saying that I love seeing you strange Sanskrit celebrity as mirror deity in the pool-party scene. How did it come about?

Nina West: I am currently on tour hair spray And I got a call from my agent in late January, early February, saying, “Hey, we have an offer for you to come do this project that’s kind of a big secret, but they want you to play. . [drag legend and John Waters muse] God.” I think the day I went to the set was the day that TMZ or whatever posted Daniel’s picture [Radcliffe] As strange al. I was there as in the heat of secrecy behind the project. And it was just a dream come true to be asked to play such an iconic role and celebrate Weird Al’s life with pure camp and pure fun, with Daniel Radcliffe and Jack Black. It’s just one of those things that I never thought would ever happen. Dean Radcliffe is the cutest, sweetest, The most extraordinarily kind and wonderful person. He was really interested in my drag career. Director, Eric [Appel] Just a really incredible guy and apparently Weird Al is pretty amazing. I feel like this is a really good story about celebrating your authentic self and celebrating and celebrating the wonder that makes you who you are. you.

io9: On the note of being kind, let’s talk about the book your type Congratulations on the release, this is incredible. I love Hayden Evans’ art. I’m also a big Disney fan, so I’m familiar with his work and your work with Disney. So when I saw the two powers combined, I was like, “Oh, it’s going to be good.”

west: The project came after I was removed Drag Race. I released this EP called Children’s Music Drag is magic. Then the epidemic came, and it allowed me to settle into it and give myself to it in a way that I never would have had otherwise. I started working on the book really full time in probably April 2020, and Hayden came into the picture relatively late in the game. Hayden was someone I brought to the table because of his artwork. I love the storytelling that he’s able to capture through his artwork and the Disney connection, right? There is something about Haydn’s artwork that is similar [legendary Disney artist] Mary Blair J. Mary Blair, but there’s a whisper, and there’s a wonder and an excitement that captures how Haydn does his art.

Hayden really explained how I had to edit the script and how I had to really think about presenting it in a new way, which was really interesting. And she really incorporated the energy of the little Nina character and the energy of my drag character of Nina West—I mean, really Captured on each page turned through its vividness. The text really supports it too. Another Disney connection would be that I was really influenced by the Sherman Brothers who wrote very differently. [Disney] song from Bed combs and broomsticksbut perhaps the most famous “Mary Poppins”Supercalifragilistic Explodes.

Little Nina and a rainbow message

picture: PA Press / Hayden Evans

Mary Poppins My favorite Disney movie and it always inspired me and inspired me to think outside the box. I really want to take my hat off and give little Nina my energy and my talent to get the license to create the world she wants to live in. Part of it is that we speak our own language. And in turn, I wanted young readers. I want to reconnect with that, because when I was a kid and I heard “Supercalifragilistic” for the first time, I was like, “But that’s not a word, and that’s okay.” It was allowed to dream and be creative. And I really want to have that effect in my book as well.

io9: Let’s dive into your first fandoms. Who would you say has influenced your career the most?

west: it was Muppets. i am i Sesame Street race and it developed naturally for me because The Muppet Show It was in syndication—that was my first real love. When I was a kid at the time, these were really kind of important moments at the Jim Henson Company, that was. Little Shop of Horrorsit was Laboratoryit was Red crystal. All these types revolved around my childhood. It was all like a Jim Henson presentation. So I would say my ultimate first passion and obsession was the Muppets. And I think that can be gonzo [the] The first real moment where I think I saw myself was because he was so different and he was an outsider. There is this thing or this that Who loves chickens, and that’s the only kind accepted in a world where frogs and pigs are in love with each other, right? As if it was just a strange and natural logic to him, which didn’t really make any sense, but it happened.

The Great Muppet Keeper One of the best movies ever made. Little Shop of Horrors This is one of the best movies ever made and then it all went up and down to my love of Disney. So these are all connections, right? for the little shop of horrors Created by Jim Henson Studios [the Audrey II puppet]but it’s also music [pre-Little Mermaid’s] Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, and [The Muppets performer] Frank Oz directed it. It’s really amazing. This past fall in September, at the D23 Expo, I got to host Muppet Christmas Carol 30th Anniversary Panel! I performed with the Muppets. We sang a medley from the movie. I did the interview [Muppets songwriter and famed music man] Paul Williams and [director] Brian Henson, [voice of Gonzo] Dave Golls, and [costumer] Polly Simmons. As a child, I never thought I would grow up and be sitting on a couch talking to my hero’s son. To sit next to his son, who instructed Muppet Christmas Carol And instructed Muppet Treasure Islandit was just like this crazy bridge.

and interviewing Paul Williams, who wrote “The Rainbow Connection.” We did a Disney Pride special during the pandemic in 2021, and I sang the song “Rainbow Connection” with Kermit the Frog, who was like, “He’s no better than this” somehow got better than that. We are all in this room together. I’ve been standing there with the man who has been Gonzo since Gonzo was born. And things that are synonymous with what I am internally at the core of my being.

io9: Since it’s getting close to the holidays I’d like to get your tips as you’re a Disney Parks expert. What should your festival do in the parks during the holidays?

west: At Disneyland, they have special crows for every season, and I’m usually crazy serious, so I have to find them. I have discovered Disneyland over the years The dream before Christmas The overlay on Haunted Mansion is the best. Haunted Mansion is my absolute favorite And then to keep The Nightmare Before Christmas On top of that? It is wonderful.

io9: Love Mansion.

west: And then what they do with it seasonally also makes it super awesome and awesome. I love holidays [and] The Magic of the Parks When it Snows on Main Street, USA Whether you’re in Southern California or the heat of Orlando. It is amazing and incredible. There’s something about the music that they pipe at the opening of the park and it just feels so holiday, it’s so wonderful and perfect. If you can experience the candlelight procession, it is wonderful. Vacation around the world at Epcot, or take the monorail around the Polynesian and Grand Florida [hotels] And see the tree. Hop from resort to resort and see the beautiful scenery—it’s one way to experience the magic of the parks and Disney. Or do Disney Springs or Disney Disney – there are only ways to truly experience the magic of the season, and be fiscally responsible if you must. I think that’s really what’s amazing about Disney is they provide an experience and they’re storytellers. And that’s what I love about them.

Your kind of little Nina will be marching with her friends

picture: PA Press / Hayden Evans

your type Now available at booksellers and online.


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