Of all three queens leading the charge to make the world a more beautiful and understanding place, I was most excited to see what Eureka O’Hara would do. Eureka was the last queen to come into public attention from RuPaul’s Drag Race, and they have definitely made an impression on viewers. Eureka radiates a warmth and glow that welcomes all of their future drag daughters, and they are a perfect component to why We’re Here is so successful.
Growing up in Johnson City, Tenn., Eureka says they have an advantage with dealing with people from smaller or conservative towns. Whenever they strut in full face down the streets of Branson, Mo., or Farmington, N. M., you cannot take your eyes off of them. That charisma is evident from the moment you see them. But what might surprise people is how well Eureka can mentor people through their experience of being in full drag for the first time. In the premiere episode, they become close with a mother who rejected her bisexual daughter when she came out. In another episode, they mother a masculine, bearded gent and gives him an experience he will never forget.
You can’t pigeonhole this mama!
Awards Daily: You’re from a smaller town in Tennessee. Do you think that gave you any advantage to meeting strangers for the first time when you got to a new city?
Eureka O’Hara: Oh, yeah, for sure. I am from a small town in east Tennessee, and I do think that’s why all three of us were chosen from the show. One, because of our personalities, and two, because we can relate to what the show is cultivating. It’s definitely helped me because I’ve been through a lot of the things that these people have been through in one way or another. I’ve at least been exposed to similar circumstances, you know what I’m saying? Because of those experiences I think I can give good advice.
AD: It made me wonder if you think season 9 or season 10 Eureka would’ve been able to mentor people like you are now?
EO: I don’t know. I grew up a lot moving to LA and having to learn how to navigate through different kinds of people versus just the small town I came from and how I was taught there. I had to grow coming into fame, so I don’t know if I would’ve been mature enough to do it and give the advice to be able to navigate the experiences I’ve been through without it causing emotional distress. It helped that it didn’t come sooner for me.
AD: I love when you, Shangela, and Bob the Drag Queen are on camera together. What do you think that you can learn from your co-mentors?
EO: Bob and Shangela have already taught me so much already. Bob has been a huge advocate for Eureka since I was on Season 9. She enjoyed my art, and she was a support system. She was very much an advisor for me, and I traveled the world with her during the Christmas Queens tour in the UK and to Australia for Werq the World. Bob is a very intelligent person. Shangela is such a professional young lady and she pushes everyone to the best that they can possibly be. If they were able to inspire me, it was because of their work ethic and they aren’t people that I have to worry about on set. I know they have their stuff covered and we can lean on each other because we are the only ones going through this experience of being queens in these small towns. We just melded well together in that sense.
AD: I love every time you three crash land in a new city. It’s so great to see you just being yourselves in these seemingly small towns.
EO: I think that’s what does it though. We are simply ourselves.
AD: Is that weird when you step off your beautiful buses?
AD: What is it like for you to explore these places?
EO: Production really had the game plan for where we want to go and what we want to do. We don’t premeditate the conversations because we want it to be as real as possible. Production does the most planning and take us where we want to go and they tell us something like, we’re going to go to a diner to scope out this location to see if they let us do the show there.
EO: That’s the information we get and we go ahead and do their thing. (Laughs)
AD: You are so good at just talking to anybody. I love your welcoming, smiley face. In the first episode, you are talking to Erica about her daughter, Hailey, and you’re able to draw so much from her.
EO: I grew up with three women and my mom became disabled when I was 15 years old, so I was forced to grow up really fast. I wanted to get out of house so quick and I went straight to college. I went into drag and always tried to keep myself busy to distract myself from being depressed or sad, from not being fully accepted. I got validation from putting myself into everything that I could. I have a lot of experience with working with people, just organizations and stuff like that. I think it’s also because I’m willing to be vulnerable. I’m overly honest sometimes—almost honest to my detriment at times when people can’t handle that honesty. If you’re honest and vulnerable when they’re going through emotional things, they’re more open to being vulnerable with you. You have to give people a piece of yourself if you expect them to give you a piece of them.
AD:I love your honesty. I remember reading in The Advocate about you coming out as gender neutral. Talking about that opening episode, what was it like being on stage when you knew Hailey was in the audience?
EO: It was really special. I feel really blessed to be part of that moment and it was just beautiful. That’s why with the performance I wanted to just focus mostly on her and I came back out in the end. I put myself on stage to give her a comfort blanket, too, but Miss Thang was natural, honey.
AD: Even though you were standing behind her in that gorgeous nun outfit and she was in that rainbow costume, I could feel a connection between the two of you.
EO: Awww. Well, thank you. You know I’m a big mama. (Laughs)
AD: You are! (Laughs) I was a little surprised by how crazy everyone is going at the end of every episode. You never think that these towns are going to pack the houses like they do, and it has to give you comfort for this shitty world we are living in.
EO: Oh, yeah. I am really feeling the pain of not performing on a stage in front of people. It’s what has kept me strong for so many years, and I truly, truly miss it. It’s what makes doing this worth it, you know what I mean? It’s a drug of love. It’s a validation that you can’t feel except in that moment sometimes and it’s a strength you have when you can’t get it somewhere else. There’s something powerful about it. I think any entertainer feels that. It keeps me centered.
AD: You need that feeling of love and energy from the crowd.
EO: Yeah. Plus, I’m a stage presence gal. I’m a large presence, so I’m a large gal, and I interact better in person. I can do digital, too, but I just love performing in person.
AD: How much digital drag so far?
EO: As minimum as possible really. Honestly, I live in West Hollywood, so I don’t have the biggest apartment. It’s hard for me to get in drag alone. I’ve done some, but I’ve just really tried to be there and support others. And I’ve done some digital drag shows to help other girls get their drag shows started. I just don’t connect as well as I would in person. It’s just not the same.
AD: I’ve done some Zoom interviews this season, and it can feel weird sometimes.
AD: Who are you rooting for on All Stars 5?
EO: Shea Coulee all the way. She is always right. She has to win for my spirit. I love Miz Cracker. I love Jujubee. Blair St. Clair is a fucking gem, pardon my language.
EO: I do like a lot of them, but Shea Coulee just needs to win.
We’re Here is available to stream across all HBO platforms and it was recently renewed for a second season.