Jinkx Monsoon as the Maestro in

Jinkx Monsoon has achieved more dreams than some even dare to have. The fan-adored drag queen has twice won RuPaul’s Drag Race, taking home the crown on both Season 5 and All-Stars Season 7. She’s toured the globe with her collaborative bestie BenDeLaCreme with The Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Special, which is now available to rent or buy on Prime Video. And she’s stomped the boards, first as Matron “Mama” Morton in Broadway’s current iteration of Chicago, and right now as ingenue Audrey in off-Broadway’s Little Shop of Horrors. Next, she’s taking to all of space and time, joining Doctor Who Season 14 as the melodic and maleficent Maestro. 

So, after all her success, what’s it like for Monsoon to get paid to say “timey-wimey,” as she does in the episode “The Devil’s Chord”? In an interview with Mashable, she said, “It’s really incredible. As a Doctor Who fan myself — and as a big fan of the David Tennant seasons — the fact that ‘timey-wimey’ was written into my dialogue felt like a special gift from [Season 14 showrunner] Russell [T Davies]. And I loved saying it. I’d say it for free. Getting paid was a bonus.”

Jinkx Monsoon joins the Pantheon of Doctor Who foes. 

Jinkx Monsoon as the Maestro in

Credit: Disney+

In “The Devil’s Chord,” the Fifteenth Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby Sunday (Millie Gibson) face off against Monsoon’s Maestro in 1960s England, just as the Beatles are primed to record their debut album. But amid their battles over music and the very future of mankind, the Maestro (who uses they/them pronouns) drops all kinds of tantalizing teasers about their origins. Child of the Toymaker from the Doctor Who special “The Giggle,” the Maestro declares themselves part of the Pantheon, noting, “There are vast powers beyond the universe.” Then, before being trapped in a piano (but not just any piano!), the Maestro cackles a warning: “The One Who Waits is almost here!” 

What does all this mean? More specifically, how much did Davies reveal to Monsoon about what this foe’s cryptic lines refer to? “Just what’s pertinent,” Monsoon explained over a Zoom interview. “I can tell you, from the experience I have working on sci-fi, nothing has ever been so close-lipped and secretive. And I love that. It’s a special challenge as an actor to only have little bits.”

But even if Monsoon can’t spill the tea on the Maestro’s mysterious proclamations, she had plenty of clues to pull from to create the character. “Luckily, Russell’s an incredible writer, and everything you need is in the text,” she said, adding that the Maestro’s origins —  which tap into Greek mythology and Lovecraftian horror — gave her plenty to work with.


The door is open for me and for other drag entertainers and trans entertainers and visibly queer people to come in and start claiming our space in front of the camera and onstage.

“I had tropes that I could draw from for inspiration. But essentially, as an actor, if you’re worth your salt,” she emphasized by affecting a salty dame voice, “You should be able to just get everything you need from the script and infer enough to perform effectively.”

And boy, does she. Within “The Devil’s Chord,” Monsoon unleashes a performance that proves her a force of nature. As an influence in audacious villainy, she cited Michelle Gomez, whose thrillingly menacing Missy rattled the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi) from 2014-2017. Then, she celebrated the current cast and crew. “It was just so exciting to work with people who were so game to try so much,” Monsoon said, referring to the experimentation that went into choreographing the final music battle. “They do take after take because they too wanted to do it the best they possibly could.” 

Jinkx Monsoon looks back on her path from Drag Race to Doctor Who.

Jinkx Monsoon on the set playing the Maestro in "Doctor Who."
Jinkx Monsoon on the set playing the Maestro in “Doctor Who.”
Credit: Disney+

Reflecting on her work on Doctor Who, Monsoon mused, “When you’re working at a certain level, the likelihood that everyone there is there because they want to be — and there because they’re passionate about this — is much higher. And when you’re in a room full of people who have all set their egos aside to put on the best show possible? I’m experiencing that right now in Little Shop. I experienced it with Chicago and Doctor Who. It is such an honor as a performer to get to work with other people who just really love what they do and want to do it to the best of their ability.”

Monsoon has come a long way since the days of muttering the mantra “Water off a duck’s back” while buffering the bullying of Drag Race contenders. Notably, she and Drag Race Season 5 rival Roxxxy Andrews recently “squashed” their beef with a meme-centric Instagram post. So, with so many crowns won and mountains climbed, what’s next for Jinkx Monsoon?

“I feel like I can go anywhere now,” she said. “Like, I used to feel so limited, because drag was my chosen medium. You know, when I was in acting school, I thought I had to give up drag to be an effective working actor. And that just didn’t end up being true for me. Because immediately after college, I was playing female roles in theater.”

The transfeminine actor, who publicly came out as trans in 2017, continued, “Some directors just always saw me in me, even before I saw me in me — you know what I mean?… So, I said to myself, ‘You don’t have to give up drag to be an actor; you can marry the two.'”

Monsoon admitted, “It’s been a long journey to do that to the level I’ve gotten to do it recently. But every step along the way has been fulfilling.” A highlight of which she’s particularly proud is The Jinkx and DeLa Holiday Special. “I was putting really good work into that as an actor, as a writer, as a creator, as a performer,” she explained. “That [pride is] what gave me the mojo that I’m now taking into everything. There’s something about creating my own thing that made me feel like no matter what happens in my career, this is something I’m really proud of. And this feels like it’s met the goals I wanted to meet as a performer. So it was almost like going into All Stars; I had nothing to lose, because I had everything I had worked towards already.”

Since All-Stars, Monsoon counts herself lucky to be offered roles that have “all been a perfect fit,” referring to Mama Morton, Audrey, and the Maestro. “I feel like the door is open for me and for other drag entertainers and trans entertainers and visibly queer people to come in and start claiming our space in front of the camera and onstage,” Monsoon declared. “We’ve always been here. We’ve always been a part of the entertainment community. We’ve just not been able to be as vocal and as honest as we’re getting to be now.

“And honestly,” Monsoon said with a smile, “I think with every swing the conservative right takes at us, entertainment goes, ‘You know what, we see you, and we raise you the queerest season of Doctor Who you’ve ever seen!’ And really, it’s just gonna be incredible. I’m so excited for people to see it. It’s such an amazing show. And this new iteration of it is just like, fresh and exciting and so full of potential and possibilities.”

How to watch: Doctor Who streams Friday, May 10 at 7:00 p.m. ET on Disney+, where available, and simultaneously on May 11 at midnight on BBC iPlayer in the UK.

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