The Power stars Toni Collette and John Leguizamo felt “empowered” when they respectively played drag queens in Connie & Carla and To Wong Foo.
The former, released in 2004, stars Nia Vardalos and Collette as the title characters, best friends and performers who pose as drag queens and host a drag revue at a gay club.
Although the Michael Lembeck-directed comedy was met with mixed reviews, it has since earned cult classic status.
In an interview with GAY TIMES, Toni describes the current attacks against the drag community as “insane” and says she felt “free and completely joyous” when she channelled her inner queen as Carla.
“It felt like you could do anything. Freeing would be the main thing,” she explains, before joking that she “could not stop putting my lipliner way outside my lips” after she finished filming.
“I was so used to having these massive lips and it was very difficult to bring it down to reality afterwards!”
Leguizamo, who also condemned the current anti-drag legislation, agrees with Collette: “I agree, I felt very empowered and free and people do treat you differently, a little more respectfully, a little more graciously. It was interesting.”
The actor memorably played Chi-Chi Rodriguez in To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything! Julie Newmar, which made history as the first Hollywood movie to focus on drag queens.
Also starring the late Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes, with cameos from RuPaul, Robin Williams and Naomi Campbell, the film follows three New York City queens who embark on a riotous road trip.
@gaytimes We love allies like these! 👏 #ToniCollette #tonicolletteedit #lgbtqfilms #queerfilm #towongfoo #towongfoothanksforeverything #johnleguizamo #dragqueens #dragban ♬ Pieces (Solo Piano Version) – Danilo Stankovic
Again, To Wong Foo received meh reviews from critics at the time of the release, but has since been retrospectively praised as an LGBTQ+ classic that blazed a trail for queer representation in the mainstream.
“I felt such an honour when LGBTQ+ teenagers came to me and said, ‘I came out because of your character. I felt empowered. I felt safe,'” says Leguizamo.
“I was so touched by that, that the character had that kind of resonance with teenagers and made them feel important, made them feel seen. I love that. I felt so happy that my work had done something of value.”
The Power, which premieres its first three episodes on 31 March, is based on the award-winning novel of the same name from Naomi Alderman and envisions a world in which all women gain the superhuman ability to generate electricity from their hands.
In similar vein to Collette, Leguizamo wanted to be involved with the series because of its themes of female empowerment.
“I’m a feminist, I have a daughter and I want her to achieve as much as any man,” he says.
“Shows like this are important to show the world what happens when women aren’t allowed to have their own power, when women do get power, what happens to men like our son in the show.
“He has a bit of issues dealing with his sister’s power and that’s a real thing. I love the way it’s done here in a parable. Maybe people can change the way they think.”
The fantasy series also stars Auli’i Cravalho, Toheeb Jimoh, Ria Zmitrowicz, Halle Bush, Nico Hiraga, Heather Agyepong, Daniela Vega, Eddie Marsan, Archie Rush, Gerrison Machado, Pietra Castro and Zrinka Cvitešić.
Watch the trailer for The Power here or below.