Nina West, who rose to fame and earned the title of Miss Congeniality on the 11th season of VH1’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race” in 2019, is set to host the Disney+ virtual variety show “This is Me: Pride Celebration Spectacular” at 8 p.m. Sunday on the Disney+ YouTube and Facebook pages.
“I love this company,” West said of Disney in an interview with the Raphael Toosweet Press, which is a part of the NewsWestAfricans Network.
“I love what it’s done for me throughout my life and the inspiration it’s given me, the lessons it’s taught me. From a film like ‘Old Yeller’ (1957) to ‘In Search of the Castaways’ (1962) to ‘Frozen 2’ (2019), I’m very grateful for all these kinds of stories and lessons I carry with me because of this (company).
And it’s a nostalgic love, too, it’s been handed down from my mom and dad and my grandma and here I am. I get to represent a new face of what Disney looks like, and that’s really powerful and humbling.”
Airing as part of the June commemoration of Pride Month, “This is Me” will feature performances of songs from films and series streaming on Disney+, “reinterpreted through a LGBTQ+ lens,” according to a news release.
“This is Me” also will feature fellow “Drag Race” contestant Jackie Cox; Kermit the Frog of the Muppets; Alex Newell of “Glee”; singing group DCappella; Frankie Rodriguez and Joe Serafini of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series”; singer Hayley Kiyoko; Jesse James Keitel of “Big Sky”; Michael James Scott from the Broadway production of “Aladdin”; and singer/choreographer Todrick Hall.
Directed by Ann Marie Pace, “This is Me” was produced in partnership with Disney Music Group and the Disney PRIDE Employee Resource Group.
The special will raise awareness for GLSEN, an organization that works with young people and aims to make schools safer for LGBTQ kids.
“This is Me” is arriving during a Pride Month that’s seen several major brands embracing the occasion as the world figures out how to commemorate Pride after a lengthy period of social and cultural disruption and reflection.
“I think 2019, 2020 allowed us to have very serious, hard conversations, not only with ourselves but with one another,” West said. “And I think that many of us who are other have identified how we in turn seek to be valued and to be respected.
When you see brands doing this, it’s a really big tip of the hat and credit to employees and people who work there who might be LGBTQIA+ who say, ‘I want to see more of me. I want to see my stories. I want to see someone like me.’ ”
“This is Me” is West’s latest act of family-friendly outreach. She released the children’s music EP “Drag is Magic” in 2019, and hosts the weekly read-along series “Story Time with Nina” on her Nina’s Kids Club YouTube channel.
An animated version of West hosted a virtual Pride Parade this year for Nickelodeon’s “Blues Clues and You,” and West partnered with Nickelodeon for the music video “The Meaning of Pride,” explaining the colors of the Pride flag to kids.
Pride, West explained is for all ages, with age-appropriate events happening for different audiences everywhere from libraries to nightclubs.
“Pride is just like the Fourth of July,” she said. “There are some great family picnics, and there are some great evening activities and nightlife.
Let’s not try to overcomplicate this: Everything can exist in the world, and I think families should have access to being able to celebrate Pride and celebrate their families and say, ‘Look how beautiful we are, too.'”