Sarasota-raised drag artist gets career boost on Netflix’s ‘Nailed It’

Drag queen Selma Nilla learned a valuable lesson about trying to mix dough while wearing snap nails on the Netflix baking contest series “Nailed it.”

“We lost more nails. I think there was a nail count at the end; they kept our nails on the shelf, ”she said.

Selma Nilla is the drag identity of an artist, makeup artist, and wig stylist who made her Sarasota debut about five years ago in “Vaudeville’s Dead” like half of the Plump sisters in the Starlight Room. Looking back, Selma Nilla became the actress playing Eleanor Plump in the series with Sarasota actor Kelly Leissler playing Ester Plump.

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“The original idea of ​​the Plump Sisters was to have a composer write some original music for us and bring it to the New York Theater Festival and the workshop there, but the festival no longer exists,” he said. said Selma. I saw the last of the Plump sisters.

Out of the drag, Selma Nilla could be recognized by audiences in the Sarasota area as a graduate of Booker High School’s Visual and Performing Arts Center and a veteran of many community theater productions. But she prefers to stick to one identity these days.

Since moving to New York City several years ago, she worked on wigs in various Broadway shows until the pandemic shut down the theater industry over a year ago. At the same time, she was also exploring the drag scene.

“I started to make my full-time transition from Broadway to drag,” Selma said. “When the pandemic brought Broadway to a halt, I turned to sledding full time and luckily I’ve been doing it full time for a year now.”

Selma Nilla was created during the filming of

Selma Nilla is a fusion of all of her life experiences as an actor, makeup artist and designer and hairstylist of wigs and hair. “It all equates to drag,” she says.

She is also a cook, animating her own comic YouTube channel show “Cluck That”, in which she prepares various dishes in front of the camera, with sass and comedy leading to real results.

It seemed natural to appear on “Nailed It,” an equally comedic show in which home cooks and bakers are invited to recreate treats that are often elaborate without enough time (or skill) to do so.

She saw a casting call for the show and found that one of the casting directors had started liking her photos on Instagram, so Selma asked if the show would consider casting drag queens.

“I had to film myself baking and decorating a cake and I submitted it and after about seven months of back and forth and drag interviews, they finally let me know that I was doing it. had, ”she said.

Seasons past featured individual contestants, but the latest series of episodes featured couples, whether spouses, siblings, or close friends.

Selma Nilla chose fellow dredger Lagoona Bloo as her partner, and they flew to Los Angeles last August for a recording session.

The series is based on an Instagram challenge in which people try to recreate beautiful cakes, fail miserably but still tag their photos with #nailedit.

Selma Nilla, left, who grew up in Sarasota, is working on a cake with drag artist Lagoona Bloo on a recent episode of the Netflix baking contest series

She had to face additional challenges, like wearing a corset for the first time.

“The corset mixed with the dress made supplies and materials more restrictive, depending on where things were,” she said. “There was a lot of stuff at ground level and it was hard to bend over.” The two artists arrived in heels, but switched to sneakers.

The shoot was a positive experience in several ways, including the modest cash prize they won which could cover the cost of some of their outfits. The other contestants “thought we were fabulous and we just had a great time behind the scenes.”

Selma Nilla describes her drag character as “literally dressed me”. On the show, “We were really ourselves. Nothing was scripted and we were having a good time, making up stuff as we went. I was very nervous about being on camera myself, cooking and talking on camera, but it worked.

It’s a challenge because she naturally describes herself as “pretty introverted when I’m running low on drag.” It’s hard for me to go out and it’s exhausting to find the energy to entertain myself when I’m off the drag. Selma allows me to open up and be my unique and authentic self, regardless of the world. It showcases who I am. I think drag is a magnifying glass for my personality. “

One of the treats made by Selma Nilla and Lagoona Bloo during their

Before the pandemic, she performed regularly at the West End Lounge in Manhattan, where she met Lagoona. “I would do a show at 8 and she would have hers at 9 or 10 and we had a little bit of time between shows to talk and go out together. Lagoona is an amazing singer and she is writing and releasing her own album at the moment.

The reaction to “Nailed It” garnered a lot of attention from both artists, dropping from 6,000 Instagram followers over 12,000. “There was only good feedback and positive feedback and everyone seems to love it and found us to be so much fun to work with.”

Selma would love to find a network to pick up “Cluck That” or find a way to write and produce her own cooking show, giving her time to continue performing on stage once New York City fully reopens.

Jay Handelman, editor and theater critic, has been editor and writer at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune since 1984. Learn more about his art and entertainment stories. And please support local journalism by subscribing to the Herald-Tribune.




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