Vanessa Vanjie Mateo Talks Iggy Azalea, Her Relationship with Brooke Lynn & More After ‘Drag Race’ Exit


On Thursday, the top five queens on RuPaul’s Drag Race competed in their final maxi challenge to determine who would make it through to the finale. The task? Write, record, choreograph and perform their very own verses to RuPaul’s new song “Queens Everywhere.”

A few queens excelled in the challenge, with Yvie Oddly, A’Keria C. Davenport and Silky Nutmeg Ganache earning their places in the finale right off the bat. But when faced with the final spot, lovebirds Brooke Lynn Hytes and Vanessa Vanjie Mateo had to duke it out in a lip sync to Aretha Franklin’s cover of Clivillés & Cole’s “A Deeper Love.” RuPaul granted Brooke Lynn her spot in the finale, ultimately sending Miss Vanjie walking backwards down the runway once again.

Vanjie spoke to Billboard just ahead of her elimination about working with Iggy Azalea, her relationship with Brooke Lynn, being a meme expert, and more.

How does it feel, knowing you went from being the first eliminated queen, to making it all the way to the top five?

Woo, I think it's a blessing! Not only to the top five, but I'm on every episode, girl. I'm really proud of myself, and I pushed myself further than I thought I could. Sometimes I would question if I had any more gas, and I would, you know, stay to the side. But I got juice in myself! I fought all the way to the end, and I'm really proud of myself. I did that.

You should be! If there's any takeaway from this season, it's either the fact that you had such a great arc, or the fact that you had some of the most iconic confessionals of all time. A lot of people have been meme-ing those moments — was that something you were more aware of this time around after the "Miss Vanjie" explosion?

You know, the first time around, it kind of just happened. I feel like the memes happen… sometimes, you think it's gonna be something that you said that's funny, but it's always the complete opposite, where you never even thought it would be something. So I just went with the flow to see what happened. If people take to it and wanna repost it, go ahead, girl. If they don't, then bitch, I know it was still funny. With the memes, there's things that you would not expect that people gravitate toward.

Right — like Soju's cyst, for example!

Right, like that cyst moment. [Laughs.] I knew that was crazy, and I was like, "What the fuck? That's gonna blow up either way; either they're gonna read the dogshit outta her, or they're gonna laugh and gag about it." Or the opulence meme, too, that was so funny.

All season long, Michelle was reading you for wearing swimsuits.

Ugh, girl. Don't I know it.

That's a tough critique to get, considering that you bring a wardrobe to the show and only have so many different outfits ready to go. How did you have to adjust in the moment to that critique?

Yeah, it was like, that was something that she brought up, and I was like, "Oh snap." Because like you said, you can't really fix that once you're there, you packed what you packed. So, it was just me praying constantly that the next runway wasn't a category that I packed a swimsuit for. Like, "Please don't let it be another swimsuit runway." That was tough, so in my head, I was like, "You better do really really fierce in the challenge, so my runway doesn't matter."

Also, you look great in a swimsuit, so I don't see the problem.

You right! She's crazy, you know Michelle. I give her a lot of love, but I'm like, "Girl, damn, give it a rest."

Exactly. Well we have to talk about you and Brooke Lynn, because that is something that we haven't really seen on the show before. How did that start, and did you end up continuing the relationship after the show?

It just happened … like, pretty naturally. Probably by the second episode, I don't remember the timing exactly. Girl, it just happened! And we're still very close, and we're still … we still love each other, baby. I mean … listen, there's two more episodes, kids! Y'all are gonna have to get into it, there's a reunion happening. Either you gonna see me cheering and screaming, or you gonna see me in the corner looking crazy. OK? [Laughs.]

We love a tease! Now, you've been working a lot with Iggy Azalea over the last few months. You appeared in two of her videos, and you performed with her on Jimmy Kimmel Live! — how did you two meet, and what is it like working with her?

Yeah, she reached out to me on Twitter. And I was like, "Wait, is this for real?" She told me about this music video she had coming out, and that she wanted to have some way to get me into the videos, and so it just sort of happened all of a sudden. We did "Sally Walker," and she wanted to have a drag queen in her performance [on Kimmel], so I came in. We learned the routine, because she tells me, "Oh bitch, you're gonna do the whole intro by yourself." And the rest is history! She's really sweet, it's an absolute honor to work with her because she's got great music, and she's a great, super cool person. She got a fierce body, too. Ooh, girl, that body is gorgeous.

What's next for Miss Vanjie?

You know me, and if you don't know, then now you know that it is never-ending for me. I'm gonna be doing everything. I wanna be in movies, hopefully… you know what, I really wanna be on American Horror Story, that's the true tea. That's my favorite show, I'm trying to get in that gig. Of course I'm gonna be touring, because now that the show's over, we get to do all of these tours, so that's exciting that I get to work with all the girls and travel. You know, I'm just gonna continue doing what I'm doing! You know me, one year I'll maybe pop up into an All-Stars moment, who knows?!

I mean, we can't get enough of you, so I would love to see you on All-Stars 5.

Ok, well let's slow that down, I don't know about coming back that soon. [Laughs.] Maybe not too soon. I need a break from this, girl.