Karen Suzuki left performing to pursue film-making many years ago. She is the project manager at animation/VFX house, Electric Square Media and she produces and directs independent projects that she's passionate about.
Who is your drag persona? How do they highlight or reveal parts of you in bigger and more dramatic ways?
My drag persona is Sasha Me: serving raw fish since 1974. Sasha is part Japanese, part German and all woman, just like me. Both of us are no nonsense, what you see is what you get. Sasha Me differs from me in how she takes up space and speaks her mind unapologetically. I apologize all the time and feel comfortable in a supporting role on the sidelines.
How can the drag community benefit from being more inclusive?
From my point of view, the drag community is THE most inclusive community. As a cis, straight woman, I felt completely welcomed by every single person I had the pleasure of meeting on Drag Heals Season 2. But, like everything in our world right now, even the drag community can benefit from more diversity. The Drag Heals Season 2 cast was diverse in so many ways and I think the show and each of us individually benefitted from that diversity. I learned so much through the lived personal experiences of each cast, crew member and guest. It allowed me to see the true potential of drag as a spectrum of all gender expression beyond the king/queen dichotomy and more toward a monarchy. Drag is literally about walking in someone else’s shoes and it has so much potential to create empathy. So, the more diverse the community, the more powerful and far reaching the potential for empathy and understanding in its deepest form which is what we need to make real change happen.
How would you describe your make-up and fashion aesthetic in drag?
Mom ingenuity. My original reason to explore drag was to feel the fantasy of glamour and step outside of my mundane life as a middle-aged mom. But, as we began to explore drag through personal storytelling, I realized that being a middle-aged mom was precisely what made me unique as a drag performer. So, Sasha Me evolved into an unapologetically fierce mom who refuses to be ignored.
What’s brought you the most joy?
Within the short month we were together, I really felt that I understood what a drag family can be. Every cast and crew member made me feel supported and welcome. As a mom, I always put everyone else first and I keep many different balls in the air. But while I was on set during Drag Heals, I felt safe to explore, try new things and make mistakes. Every member of the cast showed me how to be brave and vulnerable and taught me how to be a better ally. I even learned to ask for help when I felt out of my comfort zone and in return, I received make up tips, choreography suggestions and costume and wig loans! It was so heartwarming. I did my best to help too, so I hope I contributed as much as I benefitted.
What do you hope the TV audience gets out of watching Drag Heals?
I hope the audience sees and understands that there is more to drag than queens and competition. Drag Heals proves that drag is limitless in its potential to explore gender expression and that is its power as an art form. The act of using yourself as a blank canvas to create something meaningful is cathartic and it takes bravery, vulnerability, and glitter. Add to that the camaraderie of a drag family and what you get is magical.
Catch up with Karen Suzuki and her latest creations!