‘It’s a really hard job’: Brooke Lynn Hytes on hosting Canada’s Drag Race season two
‘RuPaul loves Canada’s Drag Race, he made everyone give me a round of applause for hosting!’
Brooke Lynn Hytes has achieved what no alumni queen of RuPaul’s Drag Race has ever achieved before. The Canadian queen of the north competed on season 11 of Drag Race US – becoming the first queen from Canada to do so – impressing everyone with her polish, professionalism and jaw dropping dance ability. Although Brooke didn’t win the crown, she arguably won something even better. Starting in 2020, Brooke Lynn Hytes became the host of Canada’s Drag Race, following in RuPaul’s own footsteps as both host and judge. It’s a sickening achievement, and she remains the first and only Ru girl to achieve the feat. In an exclusive interview with The Tab, I spoke with Brooke Lynn Hytes about her transition from competing queen to judge and host, and to find out exactly what we should expect from season two of Canada’s Drag Race – of which all episodes in the box set are streaming on BBC iPlayer.
‘Trixie Mattel called me and said she had no idea how hard it was to judge’
Hey Brooke Lynn Hytes, thanks for the interview today! What time is it over there for you guys?
It is currently one o’clock in Austin, Texas. I’m just chilling on the tour bus. I have Alyssa Edwards staring at me right now.
Omg iconic! We never got to do an interview last year when it was Canada’s Drag Race season one, and I just wanted to ask how it was for you evolving from Brooke Lynn Hytes the contestant to Brooke the host?
It was a lot, honestly. It was quite the jump. I was really thrilled to be asked to do it, and it was an amazing experience. But it was such a crazy year and I jumped right into that role without having time to really think about it or process it. It’s a lot harder than people realise, judging this competition. Actually, Trixie Mattel called me when she was doing Queen of the Universe and she said “Girl, I had no idea how hard it was to judge?” You don’t realise until you do it how tough it actually is. It’s a really hard job. It was so cool to be able to make that transition from competitor to judge. Of the two, I just feel so much more in my skin now and a lot more comfortable in the role.
That’s so interesting, I was actually wondering if now after doing both you think it’s harder to compete or harder to host?
Oh, I still think it’s harder to compete. Judging and hosting is hard but competing is way harder. At least when I’m hosting and judging I know what’s going on. The contestants have no idea what’s going on everyday and they’re being thrown things last minute.
Do you feel like your experience competing on the show back during season 11 really helped you get a different and insightful understanding of how to be a good judge?
Oh , absolutely. I think being a contestant and then being a judge has made me build up a whole lot of empathy for the queens and I understand what they’re going through, how hard they’re working and how much money they’ve spent. You definitely have a different take on it compared to someone who’s never competed.
‘It didn’t even feel like I was at work most days because we were just laughing’
I’m really loving the dynamic of the judges on season two, and I wanted to know what it was like going back with a full new judging panel?
Honestly, it was so great. It all came together very last minute and we didn’t know how it was going to work out but it was so wonderful. We got along like a house on fire. It didn’t even feel like I was at work most days because we were just laughing and joking and being silly. I couldn’t have asked for better people.
It definitely comes across. You and Brad Goreski have such a fun relationship and take the piss out of each other.
Yeah, we just hate each other!
Stop it! What can the viewers expect for Canada’s Drag Race season two that they didn’t get to see in season one?
There’s an elevation. There’s a polish. The queens really came with the runway looks this year and I’m so excited for everyone to see it.
Yeah, I feel like it’s comparable to UK? In UK season one, the looks were a bit rough around the edges but for season two everything was really elevated.
Agree! It was very that.
What is this cast of queens bringing to the table, apart from looks?
They’re bringing a whole lot of diversity. We have a lot of non-binary queens, a lot of different representation we’ve never seen. We have some indigenous and two-spirited folks – a real wide range of representation. It’s actually one of the most diverse casts that’s ever been on Drag Race. I saw a fan write that and I didn’t even realise, but when I stopped to think about it I got it. They were just a joy. They were a joy to judge. They were so open to anything and open to our criticism. It was amazing.
I see that! What were you as a judge looking for and expecting from the queens this year, and what makes a great winner to you?
This is where it gets so hard, because what are we looking for? Obviously, we’re looking for charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent, but as the seasons go on it’s harder and harder to find somebody that we’ve never seen before. I think we were just all looking to be surprised and looking for someone to charm us, wow us and make us laugh. At the end of the day, we’re looking for someone who is a star and the best representation of Canada.
You said the looks this year from the queens have been amazing, but BROOKE… The looks from YOU this year have been amazing. You killed it. What were your fashion inspirations for your runways this season?
Aw, thank you! My inspirations, girl, I will go on Instagram, find a picture, send it to my designer and say “I want something like that!” No, I draw inspiration obviously from 90s supermodels, they’re the biggest sources of inspiration for my drag. It’s all just really about finding it everywhere, scrolling on Instagram, different designers, different drag queens. Me and my designer work together and think about how I can make it my own. It’s about finding silhouettes, shapes and colours that you like and working to evolve them into something that’s special to you.
Going from competing to the panel, does having guest judges that are Canadian icons ever leave you starstruck?
I was definitely starstruck when Deborah Cox was on the panel. I love Deborah Cox and I grew up listening to her so that was really cool.
‘I haven’t watched a season of Drag Race in a long time’
This season really bought it with the lip-sync song bangers too?! We’re so lucky to get to watch the international seasons of Drag Race over here – do you ever get chance to catch up on international seasons and which are your favourite ones?
To be honest with you, I haven’t watched a season of Drag Race in a long time. And that’s not because I don’t like the show, I’m just so busy and there’s so many right now. I’m getting overwhelmed. What I do is I just go on Instagram afterwards and I look at the runway looks. That’s my favourite part, so I just catch up on that. But I haven’t actually sat down to watch a full start to finish season in a minute. Which probably sounds like a horrible thing to say, but it’s true!
No I get it, I’m not touring and even I find it overwhelming and hard to keep up when there’s three seasons airing at the same time.
Exactly! I pick and choose. I’ll watch an episode here, an episode there, but a full start to finish series I’ve not done that since my season.
Do you know if RuPaul gets chance to watch Canada’s Drag Race?
I know he watched season one, because when I was on All Stars as a lip-sync assassin and I was up on the runway he said “Canada’s Drag Race is so fun, you’re doing such a great job, I love it so much” and he made everyone give me a round of applause for it, it was very cute.
That’s so nice! Now you’ve had chance to host two seasons, would you ever go back and compete for a crown on All Stars?
I don’t think so. First of all, never say never, but right now, I don’t enjoy competing. I’m very grateful for it and it got me to where I am today, but it’s not something I’m looking forward to going back to do.
Finally, Brooke: Describe season two of Canada’s Drag Race in three words!
Elevated yet chaotic! Just like season one.
Special thanks to Leonie Martin from the BBC for our interview with Brooke Lynn Hytes. Featured image courtesy of BBC.
Watch Brooke Lynn Hytes in action after the interview by watching the 10-part Canada’s Drag Race season two boxset, available from today on BBC iPlayer. For all the latest Drag Race memes and Netflix news, drops and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook.