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Daniel Franzese Talks Mean Girls and Secret Celebrity Drag Race

4 min read
Mean Girls (2004)

For an entire generation, has defined an era of unforgettable pop culture. As one of its biggest stars, is no stranger to the film's legacy. With an appearance on 's Secret Celebrity Drag Race under his belt, Franzese status as a queer icon has grown in a myriad of ways — and it doesn't look to slow down anytime soon. FILMHOUNDS caught up with him during his time as RuPaul's DragCon UK to find out more.

You're here at RuPaul's DragCon UK — how are you finding it?

I've been to every single one so far. I'm so happy to be a part of this and I'm happy to be part of the metaverse, now that I've done Secret Celebrity Drag Race. I get to be a Ru girl. It's so fun, and I actually didn't expect the amount of love that I've gotten for Donna Bellissima [Franzese's drag queen name]. I mean, that was really fun. People have always spoken to me about Mean Girls, but it's nice to hear about something else. When we were on the show, we weren't able to say. Then all of a sudden now I'm able to be in a place where I can do both, and it's very enjoyable.

 

What is it about drag as an art form that speaks to you?

At first, drag queens to me were — and I think they still are — but they're ambassadors to the community. When I first started to dip my toe into going out and see what the queer world was like, it was always a drag queen that would help me. Always a drag queen that would be my friend when I went to the bar alone or would give me a drink ticket when I thought a boy was cute. They're the ones that can sort of be your built-in friend in the bar. And I think that that's always been a beautiful thing. And then of course I'm a showbiz person, so I love an entertainer. I love the way they support the artists that they love, and the fangirls then turn their fandom into performance art. And I think that that's a beautiful thing. Drag Race has amplified that even more. Now other people can enjoy it.

The other day, my friends and I were discussing what we think the definition of queer joy is. And there are so many different things queer joy can be. But to me, it's when we know something in our community that's awesome, and other people get it. We have something that we all get, whether that's jokes or something else. And now that everyone else is able to understand the beauty of drag. It truly is a moment of career joy for me. So I'm happy to share our queer joy with everyone else through the show and through this art form.

Celebrity Drag Race
World of Wonder

 

Like you said, you've appeared on Secret Celebrity Drag Race. Would you go back?

Are you kidding me? Listen, it was one of the hardest things I've ever done. The shoes didn't fit. I'm known as a body-positivity leader by my fans, and I'm very comfortable in my skin. But then all of a sudden now here I am and I'm dealing with all these other insecurities. You know, I'm used to being the “fat guy,” but I wasn't used to being the “fat girl.” And it was like a different feeling. I had to like overcome certain things. My beard is a security blanket. and I had to say “Okay, this is my face.” Now, I haven't seen my full face in 10 years. This is my face and I have to love it, have to learn to, anyway. It was a way for me to find a new way to love myself even more and connect with people. Daniel doesn't get asked to do the kinds of things that Donna was being asked to do. So to get to do those things was incredible. If Mama Ru called me tomorrow, I'd be ready.

 

There are so many facets of you now  — Mean Girls, Drag Race — that tap into legendary queer status. How does that feel?

When I start when you start out as a performer or as an actor, you're just like “Oh, I just want people to know who I am,” or “I want to show people what I could do.” You have all these things that you want that you think are really what you want. And Mean Girls gave me all of those things. And then it was like, “Well then, what do I want now?” So I think about legacy work. I think about doing work that's really important and moving and fulfilling, and stuff like that. So to get to do shows like Drag Race, it's like I'm doing things that are going to stick around in the queer community. Be in people's zeitgeist. I feel so honoured and privileged and it's not lost on me at that how cool that is.

 

What does 2023 hold for you?

I have a new play that I co-wrote with Jack Lamar called The Italian Mom Loves You that I'm hopefully going to be doing around the world. I'm writing some new comedy. I'm feeling very fresh and inspired and have this renewed energy now that we're all able to travel and be out there and be with each other. so I'm excited to find out what 2023 has in store.