RuPaul’s Drag Race alum Aja has had a rocky road in the spotlight. From music to quitting drag, here’s what Aja has been up to since Drag Race.
Aja made an unforgettable impression while competing on RuPaul’s Drag Race, but they have their sights set much higher than the title of America’s Next Drag Superstar in 2021. Although their performances on season 9 of Drag Race and season 3 of All Stars made Aja a fan favorite, the performance artist is no longer seeking the approval of RuPaul’s fandom. From drag queen to genderqueer musician and model, here’s everything to know about Aja in 2021.
Aja’s journey on RuPaul’s Drag Race was one of the most turbulent the series witnessed in its 13 years of production. When Aja was first announced as a contestant on season 9 of the drag queen competition show, fans speculated the Brooklyn artist would be a top contender for the crown. Unfortunately, Aja’s run on Drag Race did not meet the expectations of fans or the talented performer. In addition to being sent home by RuPaul on the seventh episode of the season with 0 wins under their belt, Aja ignited controversy during an infamous RuPaul’s Drag Race: Untucked encounter with fan-favorite competitor Valentina. Aja mocked RuPaul’s judges’ panel for telling Valentina she “looked like Linda Evangelista” despite wearing an outfit they found to be underwhelming on the runway. This resulted in major backlash from the Drag Race fan community, which is known to be harsher on queens of color.
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Aja’s All Stars 3 run served as a commendable comeback for the underrated performer. Aja jumped into All Stars only weeks after the season 9 finale, underestimated by their fellow competitors, which included Shangela, BeBe Zahara Benet, and All Stars 3 winner Trixie Mattel. This time around, Aja was able to show off their rap and dance skills. The New York City artist even earned a win on the first episode of the season, impressing their fans and contenders. Unfortunately, Aja did not make it to the end of the competition, but left fans with a more favorable impression than they had on season 9. Since their final lip sync on the RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise, Aja has made major life changes.
Instead of following the typical post-Drag Race route of working on club beats and appearing on World of Wonder’s YouTube channel, Aja has made their own path following their experience on reality TV. In addition to retiring their friendship with season 13’s villain Kandy Muse, Aja has quit working as a drag queen. Instead, Aja invests in their career as a rapper and musician. Aja’s newest album, Crown, was just released on Friday, May 21, and is currently available on all streaming services and music platforms. In an interview with Preview, Aja explained their decision to transition out of drag and into music. The reality star noted they found making music an escape during the dark times that followed being on Drag Race. Aja admitted, “Being shot into such a spotlight at such a young age was extremely difficult for me.”
Aja’s veer in artistic direction is apparent on the Drag Race alum’s Instagram, which has reached 865,000 followers. By the end of season 9, Aja had less than half of that following (341,000). Today, Aja’s Instagram reflects their new identity as a performance artist separate from the drag persona that fans were introduced to. In addition to promoting their art on social media, Aja utilized their Instagram platform to become their art. From cutting-edge fashion to music videos, Aja has upgraded their social media presence from a Drag Race fan favorite to an artist of their own merit in 2021.
When Aja was first introduced to the world in 2017, their fate was in the hands of producers and Drag Race‘s toxic fanbase. Today, Aja has claimed their career path, despite the pressure to submit to the traditional post-RuPaul’s Drag Race experience. As a rapper and musician who is unapologetically themselves, Aja continues to exceed expectations.
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