JUST BETWEEN US GIRLS: MY Q&A WITH DERRICK BARRY
Pride month and a tell-all with the world’s most famous drag Britney Spears impersonator. Name a better combo. I’ll wait.
The queen I’m about to swoon over for the rest of this article has rocked the drag world since auditioning for America’s Got Talent in 2008 and making it to the final 5 in the 8th season of RuPaul’s Drag Race in 2016. With a passion for performing, an uncanny resemblance to Britney, and a heart and mind that were set on success, he hustled hard and made a name for himself. And that name is Derrick Barry, b*tch.
Before we get to the details, here’s the story of how I linked up with this idol of mine. Some of the Swish squad and I were in Edmonton on a work trip and we had been researching events going on in the city while we were there. My boy Abdalla came across a post online saying that Derrick was in town performing at Evolution Wonderlounge. Queue me completely losing my mind. We came across the information too late to buy tickets, but I knew I had to go and embarrass myself by fan-girling from the other side of the club do whatever I could to meet this goddess.
Long story short – We went to the club, couldn’t meet Derrick because we didn’t have wristbands, I died a little bit inside, and like any other social-media-obsessed girl standing feet away from one of their favourite reality TV stars, I Instagram storied a video of him with a screen flip back to myself dyyyyying and then dancing. I left the club happy, but still slightly defeated that I didn’t get the chance to speak to Derrick.
When I saw the handle @DerrickBarry on a notification on my home screen my obvious reaction was to shout “OH MY GOD!” (Keep in mind a shout from someone who is naturally as loud as I am is enough to shake a house and I think it actually did). I knew right away he had seen that I had tagged him in the video I had posted the night before and that something amazing was about to happen. He thanked me for being at the club, we chatted a bit, and set up this Q&A session. Moral of the above story: “Derrick Barry slid into my DMs” is now at the top of my list of accomplishments on my résumé.
Derek discusses coming out, his drag dreams and accomplishments, relationships, exercise tips (cause damn does he wears those Brit ‘fits well), and what’s up next in his career.
Can you tell us a little about your childhood and what coming out was like for you?
I grew up loving attention and I was not the slightest shy. I would write, direct and star in family plays with my cousins and siblings. I was a gymnast from age 5-12 and traded that in for theatre when I was 13. I came out to my best friend Donae, who was my best friend since 2nd grade, while in high school and she said, “I know”. It was simple, understated and honest. Almost 30 years later, she’s still my best friend to this day. Actually, we were both voted “Most Likely To Become Famous” our senior year of high school. I’m pretty sure that nobody in my class was surprised with where my career has led me.
What would your advice be to people struggling with coming out?
Coming out to my Mom was the hardest. Her response was “Can I keep this under my hat?” It forever changed our relationship and I don’t see it being the same ever again. If you too are scared to tell your parents, my advice is to talk to your grandma, aunt, cousins or siblings. My grandma took me to the ballet when I was 5 and I feel in love. I was drawn to the beauty, color and presence that a theatre, stage and actors possessed. She took me every year through high school. My only regret is not telling her first. I had no idea how much better life can be when I was no longer hiding such a big secret.
How did you end up going from taking part in activities like theatre and gymnastics into drag?
I starred in every production in high school and college. I knew that being in front of an audience was the most invigorating rush I had ever felt. When dressing up as Britney Spears for Halloween 2003, I treated it like a character. In fact, the things that drew me to Britney in high school, was her love for gymnastic, music, dance and theatre. During my senior year of high school, my drama teacher, Melanie Hildebrandt, told us that “You know you’ve made it as a professional actor when you are solely supporting yourself through performance art.” My goal out of high school was to be on a stage 7 days a week.
You’ve competed in two reality shows, Season 3 of America’s Got Talent and Season 8 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. How do you feel these experiences helped or hindered your career, and how have they affected you as a person?
I think any exposure is great exposure. Mrs. H also told us to “audition for everything, even if you can’t take the role, you’ll learn something through the audition process.” Auditioning takes me out of my comfort zone each time and forces me to learn about myself. It teaches me what drives me, tests me, scares me, etc. I also find out more about my capabilities, what I can work towards perfecting and what is not for me.
Why Britney? Was it strictly due to the resemblance, or is there more of a story behind the decision?
It started with the pure resemblance. In high school, my friend Vanessa pointed out the similarities while looking at one of Britney’s Sketchers ads. I knew that Halloween would one day be my ticket and I was no stranger to dressing up on Halloween. All my best girlfriends dressed me up as “Derricka” Halloween 1995. Imagine a young Vera DeMilo with short little pigtails. Not the cutest look so I wasn’t sold on ever doing it again. As a sophomore, I had impersonated Britney’s singing voice since she came out and learned choreography to her biggest hits, but dressing up like her was uncharted territory. Now it was 2003 and I was living in North Hollywood. My girlfriend’s cousin did my makeup. I walked Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood in an “I’m A Slave 4 U” ensemble and I had never felt that much attention in my life. Two weeks after dressing up as Britney for the first time, I was meeting her on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on November 17, 2003. That was all I needed to know that I was headed in the right direction with my drag and impersonation. Fun fact: That is also RuPaul’s birthday so look how full circle that became for me.
What are some of your favourite experiences you’ve had during your career?
Drag has led me to meeting & working with Katy Perry, Eminem, Lady Gaga, Olivia Newton-John, Madonna and Mariah Carey. Take your pick! They’re all such different experiences and career highlights. Being on stage with Madonna in Chicago during her Rebel Heart Tour was pretty phenomenal. I was her “Unapologetic B*tch” and after she put a “B*tch I’m Madonna” necklace on me, she forever named me “Britney B*tch Madonna”.
Can you tell me a little bit about how you, Nick, and Nebraska began your “trinogamous” relationship and how you make it work? What has been the most difficult aspect of being in a three-person-relationship? What has been the most rewarding aspect of it?
Actually, Nick and I had been together for 5 years when we met Mackenzie (Nebraska) at my ex’s house. We both found him attractive and over the course of a month, it all happened very organically. I think if people want a relationship to work, it will. Both parties, and in our case, all 3 parties, need to be on the same page. The worst part is that date night can get expensive. Just kidding! The worst part is not being able to trust people’s motives outside the relationship. A common miscommunication is that we’re in an open relationship. We’re not. We’re “Trinogomaous”. The best part is that if we ever disagree or argue, we have a mediator.
You slay those bedazzled mesh leotards like a queen (I’m actually jealous and I need tips). Do you follow a diet/what kind of fitness routine do you have to keep your healthy, fit figure?
The goal is to always be hungry. It sounds crazy, but I do not like performing on a full stomach. It takes away my ability to feel confident and sexy. I do anywhere from 500-1,000 crunches on show days. Abs are key for a Britney look, plus I’ve always enjoyed working out. I swim, dance, run mountains and parks. I’ll also go for the extra push and stretch in steam rooms or saunas on show days to drop extra water weight or sodium bloat. You’d be surprised how much that helps after flying from city to city or country to country. I eat a lot of chicken, shrimp and salmon salads. I’ll snack on trail mix and drink a glass of water. I love sipping on hot tea and relaxing with iced tea. I stopped drinking soda in high school and that really helps keep off extra pounds. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not always this strong. Italian and Mexican food are both weakness for me and don’t even get me started on ice cream, but everything in moderation.
You’re touring USA in July and Europe/UK in August, what’s next for you after that? (Another stop in Canada maybe?)
Yes! I love following Britney’s tours. I did it for both Circus and Femme Fatale. The energy in a nightclub or venue after a Britney concert is electric! It’s like being in a room with people that share all the exact same interests. We’re all Britney fans and they’re always on such a high after seeing her live. Next, I’m putting together my own hour long show that I will debut in the fall. I’m also looking forward to writing, recording and releasing more music with my producer, Chris Cox. You can check out my debut single BoomBoom on iTunes. Also, you can see me on August 18th in Red Deer, Alberta for Central Alberta Pride!
If there is anything else you’d like to add, please feel free to do so! Thank you!
From a young age, Mariah Carey taught me to “MAKE IT HAPPEN”. Remember, only you possess the ability to make your dreams a reality. Check me out @DerrickBarry on all social media outlets. I’m finally verified on everything! www.DerrickBarry.com
I’d like to send a massive thank you and so much love to Derrick for taking the time to chat with me, and for sharing these intimate details of his life with all of us. You are a true inspiration Derrick, and a prime example of how being true to yourself and grinding (no pun intended) always pays off.
Thanks to everyone for reading! Now sashay away.