Jay Daye (he/him) better known as Ocean Giovanni (they/them) is a 20 year old drag Monarch brand new to Toronto. Jay is originally from Nova Scotia but grew up in Ottawa and recently made the big move to Toronto to further his drag. Ocean Giovanni was born on May third when they made their debut at "Mr Chick Magnet," a local drag pageant. Going by their motto "if there's cash in the air, my black ass is there" Ocean Giovanni has been bouncing between Toronto and Ottawa to take the stage and #letthekidsknow that it's possible for a gay/trans/black person to be so comfortable in their own skin that it doesn't matter if you're wearing a wedding dress or overalls. You're perfect, you're beautiful and you better turn the damn show!
Next time on Drag Heals episode 6, costume designer Leelando offers tips and tricks for the Drag Heals cast as they start to shape their costumes and props for their stage show.
What did you discover about yourself through the Drag Heals experience?
I discovered that I have a natural talent but that doesn’t mean I can be too easy on myself. If I don’t hone what I do, I’m wasting my gift and that’s not fair because black trans people need and deserve to be seen. My performance on Drag Heals was what I was able to do with a gentle mix of self doubt, fear and natural talent. It made me wonder how far I can go if I switch out self doubt with self love and fear for hard work. I now spend at least three hours a day putting sets together, lip syncing and dancing.
I’ll put on a TV show and lip sync what the actors are saying to make sure I can clearly separate character voices with my face and my body. I’m in dance classes, burlesque classes, learning how to sew from mentors and working hard to be able to go to acting school to round myself out. For the first time in my life, I can truly say I believe in myself. I can’t wait to inspire other people like me to invest in themselves and love themselves no matter how that may look to them.
Tracey Erin Smith spills the T with drag artist Ocean Giovanni from the Drag Heals season 2 cast.
How can the drag community benefit from being more inclusive?
The drag community would benefit from being more inclusive to a larger variety of drag because we would be able to lead people that are not in our community by example. We can’t fight for inclusivity, acceptance and tolerance if we aren’t modeling that same behaviour. Drag is already not being taken seriously as an art form and when we exclude and devalue each other's work, we’re really only hurting ourselves. Also, a cast with a mix of races, genders and intersectionality makes for a badass lineup. Why would we protest a fierce production?
What’s been most challenging about Drag Heals for you personally?
Apart from that pipe, the most challenging part of Drag Heals was allowing myself to be vulnerable. When we filmed, I was at a point where I was so focused on surviving that I couldn’t tell a scar from a wound because I was protecting everything. Working at the homeless shelter, I got used to not speaking at all. I often had to clean the male washroom and I knew that if they heard my voice and read me as gay or even transgender, it could lead me to lose my job, a world of bullying and at some points my life. I knew that the set of Drag Heals was a safe space to put my guard down, but I was scared that I would leave and forget to put it back up.
What’s brought you the most joy?
I was scared when my mom and sister drove for five hours to watch our final performances, that they would think it was a waste of their time or chock up my passion for drag as a hobby. When they both came running to me after the show to tell me how excited they were to see where else my drag would take me, I felt so validated, the most joyful feeling in the world.
What has surprised you the most?
I was most surprised to see how quickly I can transition from “Ocean” to “Jay.” I didn’t understand why people were so surprised that I have more of a laid back personality when I’m not ‘on’ because they assumed that I would be loud, extra and sassy. I knew that that’s what I often portray when I’m performing, but after watching back my episode, I realized how quickly and extremely I switch when those stage lights come on. I don’t blame people for being surprised, I shocked myself too!
How has it been working with Tracey Erin Smith to help create your one-person show?
Working with Tracey Erin Smith was great! Having someone there that genuinely wanted my authentic voice to be heard and totally rooting for me was extremely refreshing. Tracey was there for us around the clock as both emotional and creative support. She really wanted us all to do well, and you could tell.
What do you hope the TV audience gets out of watching Drag Heals?
I hope that someone in the TV audience feels seen. I’m not saying it hasn’t happened, but in my 20 years on this earth I have never seen anyone that holds my identities on TV. DEFINITELY not a drag show. I hope that me loving my caramel mocha skin, my durag-afro puff moment and my transgender body helps others do the same.
Connect with Ocean Giovanni on