Tatyana Ali Talks “RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race” & ’90s Fashion Trends
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For those of us who remember watching “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” during its original six-season run from 1990 to 1996, Tatyana Ali is an undisputed ’90s fashion icon. On the show, she played Ashley Banks, the young cousin to Will Smith’s character who was always spotted in a quintessential ’90s ensemble like a plaid skirt paired with a cute crop top.
After the show ended, Ali enjoyed a successful music career — releasing hits like “Daydreamin'” and “Everytime” — before returning to her acting roots. She’s since become somewhat of a Christmas-movie queen, starring in Hallmark and Lifetime films such as “Dear Secret Santa,” “Jingle Belle,” and “Christmas Everlasting.”
And yet, despite her lengthy, varied repertoire, it wasn’t until her recent turn as Chakra 7 on season two of “RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race” that she was able to fully tap into her artistic creativity.
“‘Freeing’ would be the word,” Ali tells POPSUGAR. “Some things sort of unleashed in me as an artist. I’ve been performing since I was a little girl — people have known my name since I was a little girl — and I was able to do things with Chakra 7 that for whatever reason, I was too timid or shy about before.”
During her time on the competition series, Ali’s confidence “just sort of exploded” as she explored a new side of her love for performing. She originally thought that because of her experience on stage, she had a relatively solid understanding of what drag is. Being on “Drag Race” proved to be both liberating and educational.
“I realized, no, it’s very different,” Ali says. “I mean, the tape and the padding. [Everything gets] switched, moved around, and pushed. Eye color, contour — it’s completely different. No matter what gender you are, you’re going through a complete transformation.”
While Backstreet Boys member AJ McLean (as Poppy Love) was crowned the season two champ, both Ali and Mark Indelicato (as Thirsty Von Trap) were runners-up, and Ali took home the Miss Congeniality title.
“I just had the time of my life on the show,” Ali says. “I love the ending, when RuPaul always says, ‘If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love somebody else?’ That’s such a powerful, beautiful statement. [I loved] the opportunity to participate in that sort of ethos.”
Ahead, Ali reveals the ’90s fashion trends she frequently wore during her “Fresh Prince” era. Many of these styles she’d still wear today, though some might require a few updates for the 2020s.
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