Close your eyes and flashback to November 2019 (I know, a time before quarantining
and masks… even though we should’ve started that at that point). I was a college graduate
coming off of a very emotionally and physically trying senior year, auditioning, and trying to
begin a career in musical theatre. With two survival jobs, and auditioning any time I wasn’t
working, running on empty had become my norm. Truth is, I spent 4 years pushing myself to be
the best I could be at a predominately white institution that I don’t think I ever felt good enough
at. I was committed to my training, and my studies, and I was extremely active in the school
community, but I never felt fully seen or supported. There were maybe 3 professors I felt saw me
unconditionally and never asked me to in some way hide/apologize for who I was.
Post-grad for a little while felt like being thrown off a waterfall. You know you can swim
but you’re terrified of hitting the bottom too hard or crashing into something first. I felt like I
had to prove to myself and my naysayers that I could make something of myself and find a job
in theatre as soon as I graduated. While I did find a show or two here or there, for the most part,
it didn’t happen the way I hoped. Feeling unfulfilled and seeking something that would excite me
again in the haze of post-grad, I had decided I was going to do drag seriously. Prior to becoming
a queen, I had created an annual drag show at my alma mater, and I was endlessly fascinated by
the art form of drag. So I took a chance and went for it.
When I started drag, I went into it with three goals, to continue to explore and push myself
creatively, to connect with people in the hopes of building community, and to be authentically me
no matter what. Anyone who has followed my drag journey knows, that I entered some pretty big
spaces/rooms when I was very new to the art form (and believe me, it showed). But as I
continued to show up and connect with people my progress and growth were clear, week after
week. I operated like a sponge. I listened and took a little bit of what everybody gave me in
feedback, the good, the bad, and the challenging. I practiced, I made those suggestions fit me and
who I am. Becoming Janae SaisQuoi taught me that it’s ok not to be the best at something as
soon as you start it. It taught me that I am my worst critic and my work has value beyond what
we see or give credit to.
I can honestly say drag changed my life. I have been able to meet amazing artists, I have
found family and community in drag (something that was always lacking in theatre), and I have
been able to create work that surpasses all the limits I set for myself at one point. I tell stories
about how I see the world and who I am through my drag. My looks and performances reflect the
nuanced and detail-oriented way my brain works, and I feel I have been able to produce work
that people connect with beyond the surface. They relate to it or enjoy it or respond to it in some
way on a deeper level. My drag has allowed me to let go of the ideas I had of who I needed to be
for other people and just be me. It showed me that I am enough.
So to the people that have been there since the beginning, and the people who have lifted
me up on this journey, I thank you for seeing me for who I am and always pushing me to be
better. It feels surreal to have come so far in such a short time and to know that there is still so
much more to learn and do.
To my drag mother, thank you for believing in me and I hope to have a fraction of the impact you have on people someday.
Lastly, to the person limiting themselves with something like “I’m not ready yet” or “What if I’m not good enough”, take the leap and trust me, if you’ve spent that much time resisting it, it’s probably exactly where you’re meant to be.
Janae SaisQuoi is a drag artist from NYC. Having a year of drag under her belt, Janae has competed in Drag Wars, Ultimate Drag Pageant, and Polish The Queen (virtually). In addition to producing multiple virtual shows, she was one of the hosts of Girls Gone Viral at Now and Then Bar in Brookyln. She is one of the drag daughters to city council candidate and drag queen, Marti Gould Cummings. This is Janae’s first time writing for Our Daily Feels and she is incredibly excited and grateful to share her story/who she is with their readers.