Daniel Scheinert, one half of directing duo the Daniels, has addressed the anti-drag laws that are currently sweeping the United States.

At the 2023 Academy Awards (12 March), the Daniels – which also consists of Daniel Kwan – defended the art-form as they won Best Director for their lauded sci-fi epic Everything Everywhere All At Once.

The film won seven out of 11 nominations – including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Ke Huy Quan, Best Supporting Actress for Jamie Lee Curtis and Best Actress for Michelle Yeoh, who made history as the first Asian to win the award.

“This one is dedicated to the mommies of the world, to our moms, specifically my mom and dad, thank you for not squashing my creativity when I was making really disturbing horror films or really perverted comedy films,” Scheinert began.

To cheers from the audience, he went on to say: “Or dressing in drag as a kid, which is a threat to nobody!”

Kwan added: “There is greatness in every single person, it doesn’t matter who they are. If you have a genius that is waiting to erupt, you just need to find the right people to unlock that.”

On 2 March, Tennessee became the first state to ban drag shows from taking place in public spaces and/or places where minors may be present, with similar bills introduced in at least 14 others including Arizona, Oklahoma and Kentucky.

The archaic legislation has been condemned by RuPaul, Melissa McCarthy, Jon Stewart and Drag Race stars such as Jinkx Monsoon, BenDeLaCreme, Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara and Jackie Cox.

In his statement, RuPaul called the bills “a classic distraction technique” and said right-wing politicians are “distracting us away from the real issues that they were voted into office to focus on: jobs, healthcare, keeping our children safe from harm at their own school.

“But, we know bullies are incompetent at solving real issues. They look for easy targets so they can give the impression of being effective. They think our love, our light, our laughter and our joy are signs of weakness, but they’re wrong. That is our strength.”

RuPaul described drag queens as the “marines of the queer movement” and urged American citizens to “register to vote so we can get these stunt queens out of office and put some smart people with real solutions into government”.

He concluded his statement: “And by the way, a social media post has never been as powerful as a registered vote.”

American citizens can check if they’re registered to vote here.

Watch the Daniels’ acceptance speech here or below.