How do you lighten the burden of a pandemic quarantine?
If you are D.J. Pierce, a talented, hard-working drag queen/comedian/actor, whose latest project is a limited series called “We’re Here!,” on HBO, an Emmy nomination for the show might do the trick.
“I learned about the Emmy-nominations for the show the day it was announced to the public, July 28, while I was getting a pedicure at a local salon,” said the Paris High School graduate, who has been self-quarantined with family in Paris since mid March. “My publicist called with the news, and I started screaming with excitement. My stylist thought she had cut me, I hollered so loud.”
“We’re Here!” was nominated for Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program, a category that also includes “Amy Schumer Learns to Cook,” a Kevin Hart special with an unprintable title, “Cheer” and an after-show spin-off of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
Pierce, best known in the entertainment industry as “Shangela,” is a veteran of several seasons of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” a popular reality/competition show on which he got his Hollywood start. He is also known for his appearances on TV — “Bones,” “Glee” “The X-Files” reboot and others — and in films like the 2018 Lady Gaga remake of “A Star is Born.” As Shangela, Pierce is the first drag queen to walk the Oscars red carpet in drag as part of the cast of that film.
Earlier this year, Pierce, in and out of drag, began a stint as one of three co-hosts of HBO’s reality series, “We’re Here,” a show that brings the transformative power of drag to small towns across America. Filming of the limited series was halted just weeks before the last show was scheduled to be completed, by the growing spread of Covid-19, and Pierce decided to ride out the lock-down with family back home in Texas.
“I’m still here, still observing quarantine, wearing masks and socially distancing,” said Pierce from his grandmother’s home in Paris. “I’m eating my grandmom’s cooking and now that the gyms are open again, I’m trying to keep fit.”
Work on the series was finally completed, he said, using the internet, a few weeks after it shut down.
“The show took an unexpected pivot because of the pandemic,” he said. “They filmed the three of us, the hosts, talking about our lives and our journey into drag. There was a lot of Paris in my part of it. A local videographer/photographer, Joey Ditommaso, filmed video of me right here in Paris that was used in that last show.”
In April, HBO announced that “We’re Here!” has been renewed for another season. Pierce’s excited reaction to that news is available on his social media platforms.
This year’s Emmy Awards will take place over two days, with the award for the category “We’re Here!” to be announced Sept. 19, the day before the major category awards are to be broadcast on TV.
“I might not get to go to the Emmys award show, but I am going to go to Carpet World and get myself a piece of red carpet,” Pierce said. “I am dressing up and walking that red carpet even if I have to do it in the driveway at my grandmom’s house.
“To hear this kind of news when I am here with my family was just wonderful,” Pierce added. “It’s the first time to be nominated for an Emmy for me.” I can’t wait to get back to work. We have a lot of great stories to tell.”
As well as another season of “We’re Here!,” which will begin shooting as soon as conditions are deemed safe, Pierce has also been cast for a guest spot in another HBO show, a scripted drama called “Lovecraft Country.”