“RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestant Nina Bonina Brown is riding with wind

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Nina Bonina Brown
Nina Bonina Brown

When you win a challenge that is Lady Gaga inspired, you know you are doing something right. That is exactly what Nina Bonina Brown did when she hit the runway of RuPaul’s Drag Race this season dressed as the quintessential Georgia Peach, with headpiece and all. Sadly, she did go home during the staff makeover challenge, with many thinking that Brown getting into her own head led to her eventual downfall. I got a chance to chat with this talented chameleon about why she truly thinks she was sent home and what her experience was like. So, what did she take away from being a part of the Drag Race sisterhood.

As one of the most visually creative contestants on almost any season of  RuPaul’s Drag Race, we hated to see you leave…

Nina Bonina Brown
Nina Bonina Brown

Nina Bonina Brown: Well, you know, it was just that time.

What do you think made you start to feel like it would be your time to go sooner rather than later? You seemed to definitely see the writing on the wall. Or in this case, the mirror…

NBB: (Laughs) You know, as soon as the other girls started going home and [thinking about] how some of them did not have my back, it started to become clear. It was much deeper than me not getting the role that I wanted during the challenge; I almost started to feel like these girls were out to get me. So when things like that started to happen, I found myself becoming withdrawn more. I keep to myself already, but I was not trying to be a part of anything at that time. I was kind of like, by myself at that point. I would hear them saying ‘Nina we love you’ but in my mind, I am going ‘hmm-mmm’. I was happy to be in the competition, but I definitely felt all by myself.

So you essentially are one of those artsy and more quiet people that stay to themselves. Did that make it harder to be in situations during the competition where you had to work so closely with your fellow contestants? 

NBB: Sometimes it did. Yes. Even after my elimination, the other girls were saying how proud I should be, and how far I came, and I am thinking to myself ‘but I shouldn’t be going home.’ I did feel like when Valentina went home, if she had not been on a team with me, she would still have been there. I just kept telling myself to get through every week, but once Valentina went home against me, I definitely thought I would be going next, and I was prepared for it.

You rocked the first challenge, which was the Lady Gaga challenge, and were the winner. Are you happy with how your runway looks turned out? 

NBB: Well, for the first challenge, which I happened to win, that was a really good moment. I will be honest about something though, something really got into my head. Because I can be real petty. (Laughs).

After I won, RuPaul came out and said to myself and the other girls “now the real competition can start.” I suddenly thought to myself — so that wasn’t real? I just really could not enjoy the moment; it almost felt like it didn’t count. I am kind of proud of what I put on the runway, although I wish I had more time to be more perfect on the runway. From what I remember of the last runway, it was not my best work, so I doubt I would watch it. I am not happy with the end result though for sure.

Do you think you got in your own head throughout the competition?

NBB: I did. I also think I had a reason to at times. Everyone does not see the things that go on all day long. I had reasons to feel the way that I was feeling. I probably did carry baggage from my experiences with Atlanta queens to be fair as well.

You were a Top Six girl this season, which is amazing. Who of the final five do you think could take the crown?

NBB: You know what the bad thing is? I am not that close with any of them. I can’t say, oh these are my sisters. I just can’t say that. I can say though, that Trinity Taylor should win, even though the bitch has been reading me throughout all of these episodes. (Laughs).

She has proven beyond a doubt that she is definitely not just a pageant queen, which is what many thought when the season first started.

You have a platform now that many don’t have. You showed a very different kind of drag that many were not exposed to previously, which was so needed. What do you want to do with the platform you now have?

NBB: You know, I still don’t know. So many people have a plan about what they want to do with their lives. Right now, I am riding with the wind. I am definitely going to keep working, but I want to keep seeing what doors open for me from this experience. I am just going with the flow.

What do you want people to know about Nina Bonina Brown?

NBB: I am a genuinely good person. Don’t get in your own head, and don’t get in your own space. Don’t give up, and keep pushing. Have faith, beyond everything.