9 Highlights From RuPaul Charles’ Career So Far (PHOTOS)

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RuPaul Charles
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RuPaul, Supermodel (You Better Work)
Tommy Boy Records

“Supermodel (You Better Work)”

In 1994, RuPaul released his debut album, Supermodel of the World, featuring the single “Supermodel (You Better Work),” which hit No. 45 on the Billboard Hot 100.


M∙A∙C Cosmetics

In 1994, M∙A∙C Cosmetics made RuPaul the ambassador of its Viva Glam lipstick campaign, which raises money for the M∙A∙C AIDS Fund and supports HIV/AIDS patients around the world.

RuPaul, The RuPaul Show

The RuPaul Show

RuPaul landed a talk show, The RuPaul Show, on VH1 in 1996. He and his cohost, future Drag Race judge Michelle Visage, welcomed Cher, Diana Ross, Mary J. Blige, Nirvana, the Backstreet Boys, and other stars onto the show.

RuPaul, RuPaul's Drag Race
Santiago Felipe/Getty Images for RuPaul's Drag Race

RuPaul’s Drag Race

The San Diego native helped bring drag into the mainstream with RuPaul’s Drag Race, a reality competition that premiered on Logo in 2009. Thus far, the show has spawned four spin-offs and five international versions.

RuPaul, 70th Emmy Awards
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Emmy wins

RuPaul has now won the Emmy for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program four years in a row, and Drag Race also won the 2018 and 2019 trophies for Outstanding Reality Show Program.

RuPaul, TIME 100
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

TIME 100

TIME honored RuPaul in its 2017 round-up of the 100 Most Influential People. “I first met RuPaul in the ’90s, when I was doing a shoot on 14th Street in New York City,” Naomi Campbell wrote in her tribute to Ru. “As soon as I saw him, I wanted to know where he was going, because that was where I wanted to be.”

RuPaul on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
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Hollywood Walk of Fame

RuPaul became the first drag queen inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame when he received his star in 2018. “This is absolutely the most important moment in my professional career,” he said in his acceptance speech.

RuPaul, You Need to Calm Down
Republic Records

“You Need to Calm Down”

RuPaul appeared in Taylor Swift’s music video for “You Need to Calm Down,” alongside Drag Race alums Tatianna, Trinity Taylor, Delta Work, Trinity K. Bonet, Jade Jolie, Adore Delano, and A’keria Chanel Davenport in 2019.

RuPaul, AJ and the Queen
Beth Dubber/Netflix

AJ and the Queen

After appearing in the films But I’m a Cheerleader and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar and the TV shows Broad City and Grace and Frankie, RuPaul is executive-producing and starring in the Netflix comedy series AJ and the Queen, playing a down-on-her-luck drag performer who travels the country alongside a young, orphaned stowaway.

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RuPaul Charles’ rise to worldwide fame has been anything but a drag.

The multi-hyphenate talent, known simply as RuPaul, is most famous as the drag queen host of RuPaul’s Drag Race, but he’s also an actor, model, singer, songwriter, author, podcast host, radio host, and TV producer. But you can just call Ru “mother.”

On the (nine-inch) heels of Netflix releasing RuPaul’s new comedy series, AJ and the Queen, scroll down to relive nine times the drag superstar showed courage, uniqueness, nerve, and talent in his career.

AJ and the Queen, Series Premiere, Friday, January 10, Netflix