Within minutes of sashaying into the RuPaul’s Drag Race werkroom, Kornbread “The Snack” Jeté became one of the most treasured queens in the franchise’s herstory thanks to her irrefutable charisma and priceless one-liners, such as, “America, don’t adjust your TV, I’m this fat in person!”
The LA queen quickly cemented her status as a frontrunner for the season 14 crown after conquering the first challenge, in which she performed an original rap track to praise from Lizzo, and by showcasing her inner Oscar-winning diva for the “supertease” extended trailers. In one of the most heart-wrenching Drag Race moments to date, episode five saw Kornbread’s time on the series cut devastatingly short after twisting her ankle in the latter challenge.
“It’s something you work hard for. You spend a lot of money on this,” Kornbread tells GAY TIMES of her shock departure. “But not only that – it’s my favourite show on the planet and I got the opportunity to be a part of it, and it was snatched from under me, no pun intended, very rapidly.”
Following her exit, we spoke with Kornbread about her short-lived stint on the series, why she “enjoyed being able to openly talk” about her religious upbringing and whether she plans to return as a competitor for Drag Race’s upcoming 15th season.
Kornbread! I speak for everyone when I say I’m so devastated to see you leave the competition this early. First and foremost, how is your ankle now?
I’m feeling amazing. My ankle has healed a lot better than what it was. Mentally, I’m in a phenomenal space. There’s so much love coming in from, not only production and World of Wonder, but even from my [season 14] sisters and the supporters from the show. The love I get from them is immaculate and it’s made me change my entire outlook on this whole ankle situation, so I’m in a phenomenal place.
Take me back to the heartbreaking moment the doctor told you couldn’t continue on in the competition…
The first hour or two was definitely super devastating. It’s something you work hard for. You spend a lot of money on this. But not only that – it’s my favourite show on the planet and I got the opportunity to be a part of it, and it was snatched from under me, no pun intended, very rapidly. But I’m also a person who realises that dwelling on it won’t change the situation. So it quickly jumped to, ‘Okay, that’s what happened. What’s next?’
You received an overwhelming amount of support from fans online – what is it like to see the Drag Race fanbase rally so passionately behind you?
Super weird. There’s a lot of love and it comes from a great place. When I saw the reaction from the fans it threw me off because I was like, ‘Wait, y’all actually are accepting me and understanding my point of view and where I’m coming from?’ It was shocking, but also the greatest feeling in the world that I was being accepted for myself and not something I had to pretend to be.
Although you were on the series for a short amount of time, you have already been hailed as a fan-favourite. Going into Drag Race, did you ever expect the fans to resonate with you and your drag to this extent?
Not to this extent. I expected to have a particular group of people follow behind me. We’ve seen how specific people similar to me have been accepted by the fans, or not accepted by the fans. Because we are a very particular type of person – loud and a lot of energy. I wasn’t expecting it to be so “Team Kornbread.” But when it happened it was like, ‘How do I embrace this? How do I accept this?’ So I had to learn to accept and manoeuvre around it. Now I’m in a great place with it, but it definitely took me for a loop.
Your conversation about your religious upbringing was one of the most powerful moments of the season. Was it hard for you to be so vulnerable on television?
It was not. It was something that I was excited that I got to talk about. Usually at home it’s very much, ‘Let’s sweep this under the rug and not talk about it anymore.’ Being on the show, I had no interruptions. Everything I wanted to say and do was said out loud without being interrupted by anybody who didn’t want to hear it. I enjoyed being able to openly talk about my life and express it freely.
What impact have you personally witnessed this conversation have on fans?
So many people messaged me about opening up to their family and wanting to, and it’s just me encouraging them to. I even had a couple approach me – they’re together but the guy’s not open because the country he’s from, being a homosexual is illegal. His boyfriend was being really hard on him saying, ‘You should come out to your family. You should talk to them.’ And he said watching me express how I felt about being forced to come out and holding things inside made him want to accept his boyfriend in a different light instead of rushing him, just allowing him to take his time to do it. I’ve got people saying ‘I want to accept myself freely’ and ‘I know now to allow my partner to take time to develop the strength to say what they want to when they are ready.’ I think that’s my favourite part of it all.
During your time on the show, you developed a strong bond with Willow Pill. What was it about Willow that drew you to her?
Willow’s very unapologetic. We were discussing our drag and I was telling her that my drag stems from people saying, ‘Oh you should do it this way or this way,’ instead of relying on my first thoughts and my creative mind. And Willow’s a person who does exactly what they want to and doesn’t ask questions about it. And that’s something that I can learn from, and it made me accept my craziness and my weirdo-ness without any apology.
When you and your sister Kerri Colby sashayed into the werkroom, season 14 made herstory as the first regular season to include two trans contestants. What does this personally mean to you?
It’s crazy because Kerri is one of the people that helped me come out as trans and showed me the ropes of things and we became really close friends. Having that experience with her and having that historic moment on the show means a lot to do it with a person that has walked you through so much of your journey, so I definitely appreciated that. I think it opened up a world for a lot of people to be more accepting of who they are and it offers so much representation. To do this with both of us getting along as well as we do and supporting each other is a beautiful thing. And we need to see more of it, honestly.
Your time was cut short on season 14, what else could we have expected from you and your drag if you stayed in the competition?
A lot of craziness! I was also super excited for the runways that were going to come down the line.
I’m dying to know… Who did you plan to impersonate on Snatch Game and why?
I was gonna do Leslie Jordan because we look nothing like each other. He’s a funny, short, Caucasian man – I’m the complete opposite! But I enjoy his mannerisms and his speech and his tone.
And what challenge are you most disappointed to miss out on?
Ooh, I think the challenge I was most disappointed to miss out on is definitely the Rusical. I’m a musical theatre major so that was the one I was most excited for.
Finally, what’s next for Kornbread?
I’d love to come back to Drag Race! I’m also excited to focus on acting – that’s originally what I came out to LA to do. It’s my favourite thing. And I’m focusing on finishing off where I’m at in my stages of my transition.
Catch RuPaul’s Drag Race season 14 every Saturday on the streamer of all things drag, WOW Presents Plus. Subscribe via http://uk.wowpresentsplus.com/