How Jasmine Rice LeBeija created her own ‘mini grand opera’ through drag

Behind the Drag aims to showcase the off-stage lives of some of America’s most talented drag queens. The intimate series gives us the opportunity to meet the people behind our favorite over-the-top drag queens.

When drag queen Jasmine Rice LeBeija begins to sing, you likely don’t expect the voice you hear. The bonafide star, dressed in a luxe sequined gown and glamorous makeup, isn’t lip-syncing for her life. Instead, she sings opera with her own booming classically-trained voice full of emotion and technical talent.

“I’m a delicate lotus flower,” LeBeija tells In The Know. “But when I’m in drag, she blooms fully.”

Credit: In The Know
Credit: In The Know

LeBeija is a Juilliard grad who took her big talents to the drag scene, blossoming into the stunning opera queen you can’t help but marvel over. As LeBeija, the seasoned queen says she’s able to live out her “fantasy” to the fullest.

“I want to be a Disney princess one day and a Disney villain the next day — and I get to do that as Jasmine Rice LeBeija,” she says.

Credit: In The Know
Credit: In The Know

LeBeija, as she puts it, is “known to the government as Chris.” Though she was born in LA, LeBeija grew up in South Korea, moving to the country before turning one. But growing up in the “traditional and conservative” setting wasn’t always easy.

“I always kind of felt like an outsider because I was so outspoken and flamboyant,” LeBeija says.

As a teen, LeBeija received her acceptance to Juilliard. She moved to the U.S. with her family to attend the prestigious performing school, gaining that top-tier training in opera.

Credit: In The Know
Credit: In The Know

Soon after graduation, LeBeija realized a classical music industry set on being “proper and uptight” didn’t mesh with her personality. Luckily, the queen was doing drag as an “expensive hobby” at the time. One day, it clicked to combine the two worlds — and she hasn’t looked back.

“I created my own opportunity,” LeBeija says. “It’s my own mini grand opera.”

Credit: In The Know
Credit: In The Know

Through this masterful performance, LeBeija hopes to present a type of drag that is authentic to her experience, challenging boundaries of the art form and society at the same time.

“I just want to get back to the root of it — that we are all human,” she says. “If I get cut, I bleed red — same thing as you. And that’s what I represent. Humanity.”

LeBeija pauses for a second before laughing, adding, “Oh wow, I’m so important. Humanity. That’s what I represent.”

If you liked this story, read about a Black, proud and resilient Miami-based queen.

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