“The name’s Symone, and I’m here for the throne.” With a single line sung in episode 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 13, Symone let the world know that she wasn’t going anywhere.
Turns out she was right — after a knock-down-drag-out lip sync battle to the end at the season finale last Friday (Apr. 23), Symone emerged as America’s next drag superstar, the winner of Drag Race season 13. “Well, I told y’all not to let the smooth taste fool you,” she said with a cheeky smile as she held her new scepter in hand.
That feeling is present two days before the finale, when Symone tells Billboard that she’s ready for her reign to begin. “I feel such a sense of joy and excitement,” she says. “I am so excited, I feel blessed, there’s just such a sense of peace … it was just such a fabulous experience, and I am just so happy and at peace with everything that I did.”
Symone has good reason to be happy with her performance — even before being crowned this season’s winner, the Ebony Enchantress had already made history as the fourth queen ever to win four challenges in a single season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, joining past stars Sharon Needles, Shea Couleé and her drag sister Gigi Goode. “You go in and you wanna win every challenge, but you know that’s not realistic,” she says. “So the fact that I won four challenges and placed high on others, it was so amazing. Each time I won, I got just a little bit more confidence in myself.”
That confidence was not always completely present, though. Toward the end of the competition, Symone started opening up about her internal battle with herself, confiding in the other queens that she was constantly scared of not being good enough. The star says that while she’s still continuing that battle today, she’s certainly in a better place than she was while competing for the crown.
“It’s gonna always be a battle for me, it’s just who I am, I always want to put my best foot forward,” she says. “But I have come to the realization of knowing that, you’re not always going to be that, and it’s okay to have a human moment, and to allow yourself some grace. I think that, for me, was the biggest lesson I had to learn through Drag Race, because I didn’t really do that before — I haven’t really allowed myself to be okay.”
Of all her accomplishments on the show, though, Symone says she’s still most proud of her runways. Whether she was creatively using a do-rag, recreating an outfit from the Halle Berry classic film B.A.P.S., or bringing attention to the continued violence against her community by police, Symone constantly used her runway as a space to uplift and celebrate Black culture on national television.
“I didn’t just want to be pretty, because that’s too easy. I wanted to say something, to be the thing I didn’t have growing up,” she says. “I wanted to show with how I was doing this that these are incredible moments, and that our culture is worthy of being seen that way, no matter what anyone else has indoctrinated you with.”
On the heels of her big win, Symone shared an exclusive playlist with Billboard, filled with some of her all-time favorite songs. Packed with jams from Beyoncé, Tina Turner, Lady Gaga and more, check out the tracks Symone picked to help celebrate her big win.
Diana Ross, “The Boss”
“This song literally brings so much joy to my spirit. I could be in the worst mood and I’ll play this song and just twirl around moments later. Diana just has this airy sweetness that just makes you want to move and float around on the dance floor.”
Tina Turner, “In Your Wildest Dreams”
“The lyrics and beat to this song [are] so sensual which I LOVE. There’s dreaminess to it as well that I love, and when it comes on I just want to move my hips, lift my arms, and pretend I’m Tina. It’s all in the hips and feet when Tina comes on, baby!”
Lady Gaga, “So Happy I Could Die”
“The Fame Monster is my personal fave from Gaga, and this song really just makes me feel good! I love the meaning behind the song and how there’s a darkness in the stage, but ya still want to dance. It’s just a really good metaphor for life in my opinion.”
Beyoncé, “Find Your Way Back”
“I LOVE the lyrics to this song! Anytime I feel discouraged or down, I put this on, because it reminds me to remember who I am. There’s a warmth to this song that I can’t really put into words, but it just reminds me of home and the people I love.”
Chloe x Halle, “Thunder”
“The production of this song is WILD! These girls have a way of using the melody and beat to really complement and change their voices. It’s really otherworldly to me. I love this song because it’s so euphoric and it reminds me of when my friend from home would blast this song in the car. We would just dance and pretend we were the only goddesses! I recently played it for my gay family, and we just LIVE when it comes on.”
Tina Turner, “Ask Me How I Feel”
“Personally, I love listening to/watching this live. You can feel the passion from her more that way. The lyrics to this song really speak to me. I mean it’s in the name, honey.”
Check out Symone’s full top four playlist below: