Jada Hudson’s reputation precedes her. If you’ve spent any time in Toronto’s gay village over the past decade, you know the Turn Up Queen.
On Canada’s Drag Race, the country got to take part in the turn up, but the audience also got to see a softer side of Hudson. We learned about her refugee status, revelled in the power of her Black excellence and saw the vulnerability behind the entertainer who brings the party to the club.
Ahead of the Season 3 finale, Jada joined Xtra’s After the Sashay to talk about being judged by Brooke Lynn Hytes after coming up with her in the clubs in Toronto, her love/hate relationship with Miss Fiercalicious and whether she was dicked down by a ghost—or a demon!
Jada Shada Motherfucking Hudson! You are a Toronto LEGENNNND. When you walked into the workroom, was your reputation an asset or obstacle?
You know what? It was both. A lot of the other girls knew who I was. Some of them were shaken! But as you saw, it wasn’t a walk in the park for Ms. Jada Shada Hudson. Challenges I thought I would have been amazing at, I wasn’t. I think I’m funny, but I wasn’t funny in the comedy challenge. I’m not a seamstress, I don’t sew and I was in the top for the Episode 1 design challenge. It was both, for sure.
Were you working in Toronto during the same years as Brooke?
Oh, yes! I’ve been doing drag now for 13 years. Me and my good sis Brooke, we used to do Crews and Tangos together on Saturday nights. I’ve seen Brooke from back, back, back in the day, honey, when she had that raccoon eye and those pink, glitter chunky-heel shoes with her little Daisy Duke jean shorts she rhinestoned the hell out of.
What was it like being judged by someone who was once your peer?
At first it was a little bit hard, but she’s in the position of being this amazing drag celebrity. She’s not only a host, but a judge on Drag Race, and I had the mindset going into it of [her] not as Brooke Lynn, a friend, but Brooke Lynn, the mentor, the person I’m looking up to now. I want to be on that level.
At first it was a bit hard when she’d give me a bad critique. In my head I was like, “Oh, girl, okay, honey, I remember you too!” You know what I mean? But it was amazing to have my sis critique me and give me some pointers.
Your Paint runway was so powerful. As a Black queer artist, what’s your message for your fellow Black queer folks?
Embrace who you are. Don’t be shy to show your culture in your art. In making that runway, I had a lot of people help me and there’s a lot of things I didn’t know about my Blackness that I was taught. We went all the way back to my ancestors. I learned a lot by doing that runway because of the team that put it together.
To any Black entertainers, any Black drag queens: people love when you put your culture in your numbers and your art, whether it be a song or a costume. When culture is immersed into drag, it’s the most beautiful thing.
You and Fierce have such a sweet relationship—it’s clear you’re great friends, but it’s also clear she gets on your NERVES. What was it like being in the competition with her?
It was a joy, to be honest. I’m a mother figure somewhat to her. I’ve been doing drag for 13 years, she’s been doing it for five or six. She’s always said I’m someone she’s looked up to for years.
It’s a love- and hate-type relationship with me and her. The hate is not really hate; it’s when she gets so annoying she gets under your skin! You just want to give her a little tap like a mother. Send her to bed! To her room! To the corner!
Fierce is young: she’s excited about life, about Drag Race. It was amazing to be on the show with her. She’s Drag Race gold, especially what Drag Race has become. She’s got looks, makeup skills, she’s not afraid to bring the drama. And we love some drama!
Your Saucy Santana look was so good! Did you hear from Saucy?
I did! Even before Snatch Game, I’d do skits being Saucy Santana and he’d repost. When I did Snatch Game, he retweeted me! I love Saucy because I’m what? A Material Gworrllllllll! Periodt.
Your story of coming to Canada from Barbados as a refugee after being outed was heartbreaking, but your tenacity was also very inspiring. Have you heard from a lot of queer folks of Caribbean descent since that episode?
I did! No one really knows [my] struggle, they just know me as the Toronto Turn Up queen. They didn’t know how I got here. I came here from an island where I wasn’t comfortable being all the way myself. Even though Barbados is very comfortable to be gay [now], 13 years ago it wasn’t as comfortable.
The Barbados Consulate reached out to me. They posted me on their Facebook, saying, “Does anyone know this Barbadian Canadian on Canada’s Drag Race? They’re one of our Barbadian entertainers. We want you to know we’re all rooting for you in Barbados.” That’s huge! For such a huge platform like the Barbados Consulate to recognize me, this Black gay boy—not only a Black gay boy, but a drag queen as well! That made my year.
Jada, I lost my mind when you said you got dicked down by a ghost. Have you had any other sexual supernatural encounters?
Oh, here we go! I was shocked it made the edit. I forgot I spoke about the ghost story! It’s something that really happened, to be honest. To this day, do I know if it was a ghost or a demon or a spirit?? Now there’s people in my DMs telling me, “Jada, it’s not a ghost, that’s a demon …” This is becoming a little bit too real!
Congrats on the second season of 1 Queen 5 Queers. What has it been like to share so much of your personal—and sex!—life in public?
I was always an open book, to be honest, even in quarantine during COVID, I had this live show I would do late at night called Jada After Dark. I would talk to people about sex, drugs, love, dating, whatever would come to my mind. I wish I had a queer person being very open about sex, how to prepare when you want to have sex and that kind of thing. I didn’t have that back in my day. I’m a certain age, why not share my knowledge with everyone? I have nothing to hide.
Have all the tops been hitting you up since you’ve been on television?
Oh, honey! There’s a lot of people who want to be my little Casper on tour. Get your sheet, be the best ghost you can be and send your audition tape!
Last question! What’s next for you?
Jada Hudson takes on the world! I have the title of Toronto’s Turn Up Sensation, now I want to be Jada Hudson: the Turn Up Sensation. The WORLD Turn Up Sensation! You’ll see Jada for sure in a city or country near you.