It’s not all about the sequins and the dance choreography. For four youngsters featured in the documentary Drag Kids, it is also about the importance of strong family bonds and the support they receive that gives them confidence in life. “The Drag Kids are trailblazers, and through their passionate commitment to being themselves, they have a lot to teach us about ourselves,” says director Megan Wennberg.
The acclaimed documentary, Drag Kids, recently took to the film festival circuit with its world premiere at Hot Docs Film Festival where it became a feel-good hit with audiences. It has also been recognized at the Inside Out Festival with the Best Canadian Feature Award. It is now set to air on CBC DOC POV this coming July 25th.
The documentary follows the lives of the four fierce and fabulous kids who head to Montréal to come together for the first time for a group performance at Pride Montréal. They all come from different backgrounds but have a common love for performing, dressing up and Lady Gaga. And like most families, the parents just want them to be happy, feel safe and to be with like-minded peers.
The Drag Kids include Bracken (12 year old, from Vancouver, BC), Jason a.k.a. Suzan Bee Anthony (12 year old, from Springfield, Missouri), Nemis a.k.a. Queen Lactatia (10 year old based in Montreal, QC), and Stephan a.k.a. Laddy Gaga (10 year old based in Algorfa, Spain).
We had a chance to chat with filmmaker Megan Wennberg recently to find out more!
How hard is it for people to understand what these kids are doing? Looks like they are having fun!
MW: They are definitely having fun! These kids have been dressing up and performing since they could walk and talk, and for them, drag is a natural extension of these interests. I think if people are able to see it as kids doing something they love, they’ll be in a better position to understand it – even if it’s not a passion they share.
The parents are very supportive of their kids and their lifestyles. How did you find the families?
MW: During pre-production, we reached out to the parents of several drag kids, and after conducting preliminary interviews we selected these four families. The parents we worked with are all deeply supportive of their kids, and as a result, the kids are happy and comfortable being themselves.
What interested you as a filmmaker to focus on Drag Kids?
MW: As a filmmaker, I’ve always been drawn to characters, points of view and worlds that are new to me, and the Drag Kids are all totally unique. When producer Erin Oakes pitched this idea to me last spring, I had no idea kids were doing drag, and I was immediately interested to find out more – who are these kids, why are they doing it, what does it mean to them? Over the course of filming the doc last summer, I was privileged to get to know each of the kids in their home towns and to witness firsthand what drives them, as well as the challenges they face.
At the end of the day, they are still kids. Did anything surprise you about them?
MW: The passion, bravery, and self-awareness they display at such young ages astounds me.
We focus on the kids but what about the parents and what kinds of challenges did they share with you?
MW: The costs! Drag is very expensive and time-consuming. As someone who pretty much only wears mascara, I had no idea how expensive make-up and wigs and heels are.
Right! That must add up! What else would the families want us to know?
MW: The Drag Kids are fierce and fabulous and they challenge us all to think about what this could look like in our own lives, if we can be brave enough to follow our own wildest dreams. They would want other kids to know that it’s okay to be their true selves, and that there are people who will love them for it.
Megan Wennberg is based in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, but she loves travelling for work. As a writer and director, she works in both documentary and fiction, and her work has screened at festivals around the world and been broadcast on CBC, The Comedy Network and Documentary Channel. Megan has a Bachelor of Fine Arts, a Bachelor of Journalism, and she is a screenwriting alumni of the Canadian Film Centre.
Drag Kids will air Thursday, July 25 at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT) on CBC Docs POV on CBC and on the free CBC Gem streaming service, and Sunday, July 28 at 6 p.m. ET (6:30 NT) on CBC News Network.