Film and TV

Putting the T in LGBTQ: Jazell Royale Is Living Her Best Life

Jazell Royale knows how to charm an audience.
Jazell Royale knows how to charm an audience. Screenshot from MTV
Heavy is the head that wears the crown, but no one makes it look as effortless as Jazell Royale. The pageant starlet turned reality show breakout is equal parts beauty and brains, but she mostly just thinks of herself as someone living in her own truth.

Royale, who grew up in Florida and now calls Houston her home, won the Miss International Queen title in 2019 and is the first transgender woman of African descent to clench the title. She also recently competed on Season 2 of Queen of the Universe — a reality-style show in which the drag performers break the mold by not lip syncing and instead singing live.

“When I saw my first drag show, that was when I immediately knew that was what I wanted to do with my life. It was an instant thing. There was no second guessing it. And that was 20 years ago,” she said.

Music has been her calling for the last two decades, and by making the cast of Queen of the Universe, she was able to share her abilities with the world.

“I was excited [to make the cast] because I knew that the world would get an opportunity to see who I am and to see this talent that I have. I knew it would be life changing for me,” she said. “Music has gotten me through my entire life…there's a song for every moment of our lives.”

The soundtrack to Royale’s life does have a happy ending, but like any juicy story, there were some trials and tribulations she experienced before she could let her inner beauty shine.

Royale experienced bullying when she was younger, but she found a community where she was welcomed, and it became her safe haven.

“We all know what children do when they see something that's different or out of their norm. They put a microscope on it. They call it out, and they pick at it. That was what happened to me, and that was when I really became aware that I was different than everybody else,” she said.

As she progressed into her early adult years, she started to find her confidence, and she found her chosen family too.

“By the time I became a teenager, I was introduced to a community of individuals that were like me,” she described of a nearby neighborhood where she met other LGBTQ people. “That was when I really came to full terms as to who I am.”

Thankfully, her story of self-awareness and confidence has given Royale the ability to showcase her unique and authentic identity. And that coupling of grace and strength comes through in her music.

“I knew that [being on Queen of the Universe] was going to be a chance for the world to hear my music,” she said, speaking of leaving her drag performer persona behind to allow her vocals to take center stage. “People now take me seriously as an artist. People get to see my talent as a human.”

The program has not been renewed for a third season, but like any good show person, Royale won’t let the curtain stay down for too long. She plans to take her act on the road, and fans can expect plenty of her artistry this year.

She said, “Be on the lookout for music from me. I’m recording a lot of house and dance music, and we're going to have fun touring with that.”

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Sam Byrd is a freelance contributor to the Houston Press who loves to take in all of Houston’s sights, sounds, food and fun. He also loves helping others to discover Houston’s rich culture.
Contact: Sam Byrd