From the moment she entered the study in a sparkling Mouseketeer ensemble, we fell in love with the “Persian princess” of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 12, Jackie Cox†
This Canadian-born queen — and the first queen of Iranian descent to participate in the show — delivered some memorable performances in the Challenges, such as her perfect impersonation of Add chest in the Snatch Game and starred on the runway (she was the first queen to wear a Muslim hijab on the main stage.) While Jackie finished fourth in her season, she’s definitely a winner in our book.
After-Drag raceJackie went out on her one-queen show “JackieVision” and appeared alongside Lisa Rinna on the daytime soap Days of our lives† And now Jackie, a UCLA School of Theater graduate, takes the stage in a new production of the beloved Broadway musical. Fat† In Musical Theater West’s summer production, which runs through July 24 at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center, Jackie plays two roles: no-nonsense English teacher, Miss Lynch, and the iconic Teen Angel.
In this production, the character is reinvented as a drag queen. About the role, Jackie said, “Drag was underground in the 50s and 60s, but it certainly existed. As I see my Teen Angel, I came up with a backstory where Frenchie met some queer people at beauty school who shared her knowledge. were involved in all the underground drag shows that take place near Rydell, so her vision of Teen Angel just happens to be a fantastic drag queen!”
The fabulous Jackie chatted to me kindly during a break from her 12-hour rehearsal day (while getting her nails done) to talk about the new production and her love of theatre. We also learned a little more about her when she answered the Socialite Seven.
How did you get involved in this production of Fat†
I got an email from the director. I think he saw me do a show in New York City and he thought Teen Angel and Ms. Lynch would be played by a drag queen… and he thought of me. So they contacted me and asked if I was interested and I said, “Absolutely! What a great opportunity.”
Where did the idea to reimagine the Teen Angel come from?
All they emphasized was that it was some form of me in drag. And so I thought I’d push it to become the most glamorous drag queen, which I envisioned Frenchy envisioning. So that’s kind of how I interpreted the idea.
Do you find it difficult to switch roles between the teacher and the Teen Angel on the show?
Oh, it’s so much fun. I have a lot of fun in both roles. I mean, both roles are there to poke the kids a bit. So I can do it in several ways – one from the maybe more conservative side as the teacher and one a little more progressive as Teen Angel.
I know you were a theater teacher, but how did you get bitten by the theater bug?
Oh my God. Way back when I was in elementary school, I remember we used to do little plays and my teacher told me, “you’re good at being emotional when you have to do these parts”…and I think it’s a sad spirit. I had to play a sad ghost and the teacher said to me, “I believe you were sad.” I was like, “Oh my God, I’m an actress. Awesome.”
Do you remember your first theater memory?
I mean, my mom took me to the opera before I could remember. She would just put me on a little suit and take me to the opera. But the one that stays with me as the most intense theater I’ve experienced was seeing cats for the first time and when those cats came through the public, I was terrified.
What is your favorite role that you have played on stage?
I think the most important for me was Hedwig and the evil inch† I did a production in 2009, before I even thought about Jackie, because that role really informed a lot of my ideas about drag, around gender, about my own gender expression and identity. That was a very important role for me and I think in who I have become today,
What is your dream role? What role would you like to have on stage that you don’t have yet?
I mean I was a little young when I did that Hedwig, so I’d love to come back and do it again. I think there are still a lot of great roles that could be played by someone who plays a little with the gender spectrum and the gender binary. I think there’s a lot of openness to that.
There are so many great roles that I haven’t even thought about which one would be perfect for me, but I love creative casting. I think there are new ways to bring, you know, a Middle Eastern gender-expansive person on the drag spectrum into any show.
The one I’m excited about – I want to play George McFly, in the new Back to the future musical. I think that’s going to be a fun one and George McFly is my favorite character.
As for doing drag or acting, is there one that you prefer over the other or do you like them equally?
Ah, it’s hard to say. Wearing is so different. The difference between drag and theater, you know, drag on the personal level is so much more about what you bring to the table. While theater works much more together and you work with the vision of the director and the vision of the choreographer. While in drag you often decide and you are the boss
Do you have any plans for anything else on the pike?
I’m going to tour again and there are still a few Prides to experience. So I’ll be appearing in a few different Prides and then there are some things I’ll be able to announce soon in the fall.
Jackie answers the Socialite Seven
Who has had the greatest influence on you in your career?
Oh God. Good question. The biggest influence on me…hmmm…probably the most inspiring for me is Jinkx Monsoon.
What would surprise your fans if they heard that you are a fan?
People might be surprised to hear that I’m a fan of Hitchcock movies and my favorite is Fear of heights† I think it is beautiful. I lived in San Francisco for a while, so I think it’s important for that period of my life as well.
What are three things you can’t live without?
Elmer’s glue, thick eyelashes and caffeine.
What skill or talent or even superpower would you like to wake up with tomorrow?
The ability to teleport anywhere.
If they made a movie of your life, who would you play?
Maybe Zachary Quinto.
What is your biggest annoyance?
People who think they owe something.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
The best advice is what Whoopi Goldberg told me in Season 12, which is, “Don’t worry about being funny. Just tell me something true.”
You can see Jackie in Grease through July 24 at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center. Tickets are available by phone at 562-856-1999 or online at musical.org† Stay up to date on all things Jackie by following her Twitter† Instagramand facebook†