The intimate journey and unpublished backstory of BeBe Zahara Benet – a charismatic drag performer originally from Cameroon, and the very first winner of the culture-changing phenomenon, RuPaul’s Drag Race. With over a decade of unprecedented access, we observe BeBe’s struggles with celebrity, authenticity, success, and failure.
BeBe Zahara Benet is a drag performer originally from Cameroon in Central Africa, now living in the U.S. She’s magnetic, and 6’3”– before hair and heels. We chart BeBe’s story across 10+ years: from her early amateur days in Minneapolis, to winning the first season of RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2009, to struggling to make ends meet in New York.
Behind BeBe (the diva) is Marshall (the man). The heart of our story takes place one hot and stressful summer in New York City. Marshall feels tremendous pressure to get his career back on track in the face of dwindling opportunities, a shrinking bank account, and the overwhelming competition of over 100+ RuPaul’s Drag Race queens whose careers have launched since BeBe’s original win. He’s not sure he can afford to keep living in New York, an achievement which represented so much to him and his family. At the height of precariousness and self-doubt, Marshall puts his remaining savings into one last live BeBe show called “Reveal.”
As part of his process for “Reveal,” he takes an intense and unconventional acting class about accessing your most authentic self. Even though he lives in the U.S. now, this vulnerable work is particularly challenging for Marshall, coming from Cameroon, where the mere suspicion of homosexuality is grounds for imprisonment. The creative process leads to powerful revelations and shifts, made all the more impactful by the rich context that the film provides around Marshall’s history and internal conflicts.
We’re currently in post-production, editing our hearts out and raising the finishing funds to get this film edited and out into the world!
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