Who is Drag Performer ‘Valentina’ (James Andrew Leyva)?

Drag Performer Valentina, Drag Performer James Andrew Leyva

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Tonight, Valentina (who also goes by Andrew Leyva when not taking on her stage persona) will be playing the role of Angel Dumott Schunard in Fox’s live version of Rent the musical.

Valentina 27 and is perhaps best known as a contestant on season 9 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. She placed seventh and was awarded the title of Miss Congeniality during her season.

After some time, she reunited on the show as part of RuPaul’s All Stars.

According to LA Weekly, Valentina immersed herself in the arts as a child. She tells the outlet, “There were so many moments in which I felt, ‘Oh my god, this show is just like being in school’… My education experience was very creative, we were free to do whatever [we wanted], as long as we covered what was assigned to us and being on the show it felt so much like that.”

She goes on to say, “I think drag is something that comes natural to me. I feel like it’s what I’m meant to do.”

Levya is openly gay, identifies as non-binary and has been forward about using “she/her” pronouns when in drag as Valentina.

Speaking to Out recently, Valentina said, “I get to bring that aspect to my Angel character, and really have an idea of like, ‘Why is she so happy and so confident in her armor, in her drag?’” She continues, “I do take the responsibility of being a gay nonbinary drag queen person taking on a really important iconic role like Angel and I hope [audiences] tune in for it.”

In December, Valentina released her debut single, “A Prueba de Todo”. She certainly has plenty of listeners, with 1.1 million followers on Instagram.

In her interview with LA Weekly, Valentina was asked how she categorizes herself as a queen. She responded:

It’s hard to say because I’m quite new to all this. I think I would consider myself a glamour girl, but I think it depends on my look and my level of performance. I consider myself a very passionate performer. I feel like I’m shedding light to the art form of drag that’s very classic in the sense that I can go on stage in a beautiful gown to a very deep song and command attention and emotion through my movement and really be connected to the lyrics. That’s another side of drag that I feel like I’m a big part of and it’s not really common anymore. What’s really common is putting on a Nicki Minaj, a Lady Gaga, or a Beyoncé and getting up there and doing a Vogue death-drop and the audience will live. The challenge that I have for myself is how do I get on the stage and emote my vision and command the attention of the audience through my art without doing a death-drop or a split.

She goes on to say that her Latin identity ties in with her drag persona because all of her references are powerful Latina women. “I try to incorporate the romance of the Spanish language into what I do. What I do is very romantic, very regal, very elegant. Being Latino and being Mexican, it’s everything that I am and I try to make sure no matter what I’m doing, it’s always through the eye and through the lens of a powerful Latina woman.”

Be sure to check out Valentina tonight in Rent Live on Fox at 8pm ET/PT.


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