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DRUK's Cara Melle On Trans Joy, Bringing Receipts & Where She Stands With Her Sisters Now

'DRUK's Cara Melle On Trans Joy, Bringing Receipts & Where She Stands With Her Sisters Now

Cara Melle
Courtesy of World of Wonder

Plus, the pressures of having a legacy and the pain and pleasures of watching someone bomb the Snatch Game.

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From the moment she strutted into the Werk Room of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK season five, Cara Melle was the queen to beat. The London-by-way-of-Atlanta queen radiated confidence and winner energy — and she definitely had the charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent to back it up. After all, you don’t earn the reputation of being the Beyonce of drag by anything other than serving pure drag excellence.

As the season progressed, a softer side of Cara Melle emerged: her vulnerability, the trans journey, and her tension with her bestie and roommate Tomara Thomas. Whether she was crushing the challenge (the girl group and Ruscial in particular) or opening up during a mirror chat, she remained utterly compelling and endlessly watchable. All of which made it even harder to watch her sashay away after a particularly competitive acting challenge.

But if there’s one thing we know, it’s that for a queen like Cara Melle, this is just the beginning. PRIDE caught up with the queen to discuss her stand-out moments on the show, the pressures of walking in the door with a reputation and legacy, sharing her trans journey with the audience, and what happened when Tomara got home.

Cara Melle

Courtesy of World of Wonder

PRIDE: Congratulations on a stellar run on Drag Race UK! We got to see so many sides of you and really fall in love with you this season. How are you feeling about the experience now that you’re able to take a look back at how it all played out?

CARA MELLE: I went there and fortified my spot, my being. I made myself known. I got some big moments on that stage, especially with the girl group and my entrance and I didn’t flounder at the Snatch Game. That’s all I wanted, was not to do bad and Snatch Game. So yeah, I’m proud of myself.

You came onto the show already having a reputation and legacy. Did that feel like a lot of added pressure for you?

Thank you for asking, you’re the first person who has asked me that. Yeah, there was a lot of pressure going into the competition. I’ve been rumored since season one of Drag Race UK. But to fulfill everything that you want, sometimes that’s not going to happen. It’s not going to be perfect on your first try. You’re not going to always be like swimming through the whole thing — which is what I wanted to do. So, looking back at my whole Drag Race moment, I thought I killed it.

The thing is, winning Drag Race doesn’t guarantee you stardom, and falling short of that doesn’t mean you failed. Some of the biggest, brightest, Drag Race stars were not the people who won.

Exactly! Alyssa Edwards was a what? Lovely fifth alternate?

Cara Melle

Courtesy of World of Wonder

Yes! Perfect example! So, you’re someone who truly radiates confidence but we also got to see a much softer vulnerable side to you on the show as well. How did it feel to share that side of yourself with the audience?

Oh, I hated it. I hated seeing the vulnerable side of myself on camera. I’m a strong, tough-shell type of girl. To go on TV, you have to just drop all your guards and I did that. Maybe a little bit too much. But being a trans woman — and I just recently got into my hormone journey three months before going on Drag Race, so my mind was already in a billion different places. It was tough watching. Especially when I have my lows, I definitely don’t don’t like watching the lows.

But those harder moments also led to some of the stand-out moments from the season, like when you and your real-life friend and roommate said she never saw you sew anything. Here’s what I want to know: when she got home did you walk her directly to your closet and show her all the things you designed?

I fully went to my closet and pulled out one dress. I was like, ‘Remember this that you’ve seen before? I made that. Remember that? Or remember when I was sitting here and you were watching me sew that dress? Remember, I was sewing that dress.

Did she finally admit she was wrong?

No. [Laughs]

That feels correct and very on-brand for Tomara.

So on brand, all the time. But honestly, right after the show was done, I immediately made an album of dresses and a bunch of designed things done in the past. So If I want to drop it, I have plenty of proof.

We love receipts! So let’s talk about the Snatch Game. I know you were dreading it but you actually did really well. Do you think if you were going to do it again you’d have that same sense of dread?

Oh, no, I would definitely go in more confidently, more calmly. [I would take] more risks with what I would do in the Snatch Game. I did good, but I didn’t do great. I just want to push myself to the next level and just fucking kill it.

You survived the game, but not everyone was so lucky. I’m curious, what is it like in the room watching someone bomb the Snatch Game?

Oh my God, it was the most awkward thing ever. It was kind of hilarious though. It was fucking hilarious like watching Vicki and DeeDee in front of me, just floundering. [Laughs] It was so bad that it was like deafening silence.

You almost wish there was a shade rattle! Did doing well in Snatch Game help give you confidence going into the next acting challenge?

I thought I did really, really well. I let go. I made a lot of big choices with the role. I added my own nuances like the little laugh that I did. Even that little Lamaze [does Lamaze breathing] we added that on the spot. We walked away from that feeling super confident. I definitely think that we were not meant to be in the bottom.

Cara Melle

Courtesy of World of Wonder

Who do you think belonged in the bottom?

Well, I think it’s quite obvious who we all — including themselves — thought we were going to be in the bottom. And they said it all the show. So I don’t need to say it again.

Another stand-out moment this season was with you, Vicki, and Banksie disagreeing on the mainstage and in Untucked. After seeing it all played back, do you see what happened any differently?

My feelings haven’t changed towards my perspective. However, I do see more of what Banksie was feeling. 100%. But I would like to clarify that when I was on the runway, and I said there were lines that were missed, I did go on after that to talk about myself missing lines. I wasn’t just singling out Banksie, she felt singled out by me, but genuinely not singling her out. I was actually talking about all of us. We all missed lines, we all should have been in the bottom together.

How are you and Banksie these days? Have you gotten to a better place since the show’s airing?

Banksie and I are good. She is still shady as a palm tree, but I love her for it. I don’t hold anything against her and I hope she doesn’t hold anything against me.

Cara Melle

Courtesy of World of Wonder

Can we talk about your final lip sync? When I watched it I saw so much trans joy. Is that something you see there too? Or am I just projecting?

I 100% see that in myself, every time I step on stage. [When I] watch myself back now I literally say, ‘God, she is so proud and happy to be the woman that she is today.’ She was not at all the same happy, confident, proud person that I am now. I used to be so insecure internally. Outwardly, I wouldn’t display that. Internally I would just beat myself up all the time. Once I came out as trans and started going back on stage, it just all felt right.

I love that so much, and I think it’s so powerful.

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Rachel Shatto

EIC of PRIDE.com

Rachel Shatto, Editor in Chief of PRIDE.com, is an SF Bay Area-based writer, podcaster, and former editor of Curve magazine, where she honed her passion for writing about social justice and sex (and their frequent intersection). Her work has appeared on Dread Central, Elite Daily, Tecca, and Joystiq, and she podcasts regularly about horror on the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network. She can’t live without cats, vintage style, video games, drag queens, or the Oxford comma.

Rachel Shatto, Editor in Chief of PRIDE.com, is an SF Bay Area-based writer, podcaster, and former editor of Curve magazine, where she honed her passion for writing about social justice and sex (and their frequent intersection). Her work has appeared on Dread Central, Elite Daily, Tecca, and Joystiq, and she podcasts regularly about horror on the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network. She can’t live without cats, vintage style, video games, drag queens, or the Oxford comma.