RuPaul Andre Charles is an American drag queen, television personality, actor, musician, and model. Best known for producing, hosting, and judging the reality competition series RuPaul's Drag Race, he has received several accolades, including 12 Primetime Emmy Awards, three GLAAD Media Awards, a Critics' Choice Television Award, two Billboard Music Awards, and a Tony Award. He has been dubbed the "Queen of Drag".
Born and raised in San Diego, RuPaul later studied performing arts in Atlanta. He settled in New York City, where he became a popular fixture on the LGBT nightclub scene. He achieved international fame as a drag queen with the release of his debut single, "Supermodel (You Better Work)", which was included on his debut studio album Supermodel of the World (1993). He became a spokesperson for MAC Cosmetics in 1994, raising money for the Mac AIDS Fund and becoming the first drag queen to land a major cosmetics campaign. He later received his own talk show on VH1 called The RuPaul Show, which he hosted for over 100 episodes while co-hosting the morning radio show on WKTU with Michelle Visage.
RuPaul's Drag Race was created in 2009 and has gone on to produce fifteen seasons in the United States. The show has also seen success internationally. There are several international variants of the show including RuPaul's Drag Race UK and Canada's Drag Race. This has also inspired several spin-offs of the main show, including RuPaul's Drag U, RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars, and RuPaul's Secret Celebrity Drag Race. He is also featured as a host on other reality television series such as Skin Wars, Good Work, and Gay for Play Game Show Starring RuPaul.
RuPaul has made appearances in films such as Crooklyn (1994), The Brady Bunch Movie (1995), To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar (1995), But I'm a Cheerleader (1999), television shows such as Girlboss (2017), Broad City (2017), and Grace and Frankie (2019). He later created and starred in his own Netflix original television series AJ and the Queen (2020). In addition, he has also published three books: Lettin' It All Hang Out (1995), Workin' It! RuPaul's Guide to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Style (2010), and GuRu (2018).
RuPaul is considered the most commercially successful drag queen in the United States, with Fortune saying that he is "easily the world's most famous drag queen." For his work on RuPaul's Drag Race, he has received 12 Primetime Emmy Awards, becoming the most-awarded person of color in the history of the Primetime Emmys. In 2017, he was included in the annual Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world. Outside of film and television, he also continues to write and record music; he has released fifteen studio albums as of 2023, and received a Tony Award for Best Musical as a producer for the musical A Strange Loop.