Brand Champions come from all walks of life, and over the last thirty years, no celebrity has worked harder to perfect their personal and professional brand than RuPaul Charles. From his humble beginnings as a dancer in a B-52s music video, to his reality TV show, now nominated for 12 Emmys, RuPaul has undoubtedly changed the face of entertainment. Beyond his television appearances however, RuPaul is a fully fledged business mogul in his own right.
Born and raised in San Diego California, RuPaul moved to Atlanta, Georgia as a teenager to study the performing arts. From that time onward, and throughout the 80’s Ru struggled to find his footing as a musician and filmmaker, working in a low budget underground cinema movement with very little recognition or financial support. Still, Ru committed everything to breaking out in the entertainment industry, never taking no for an answer, and never compromising on what he wanted to stand for.
In 1993, Ru broke onto the mainstream scene with his first hit single Supermodel (You Better Work) and never gave up that momentum. The song peaked at number 45 on the Billboard 100 and RuPaul was signed by MAC Cosmetics that year, the first notable drag star to ever receive what would have traditionally been considered a woman’s modeling job. He published his autobiography and gained international fame.
In the mid 90’s he started his virtuosic television career. Little-known to modern fans, RuPaul’s Drag Race is actually one of two successful TV shows to be be be headed by Ru, the other being The RuPaul Show, which aired 20 years ago. Both have been acclaimed for their staunchly progressive and open-minded outlook, but beyond that, both showcase the whirlwind force of his personal brand.
As a television host, singer, model, and author RuPaul has never compromised on his values or brand, a stance that has certainly granted him the kind of permanence rarely seen in popular culture. His undying and unrepentant passion for being himself and encouraging others to do the same presented its challenges over the years. From actual hate mail to the more subtle forms of discrimination that take place in the entertainment industry, RuPaul has overcome each obstacle with his unique poise and grace.
While he might have his own Hollywood star and Madame Tussaud’s wax statue now, RuPaul worked harder than most to get there and has upheld his personal and professional values throughout every consecutive triumph. This kind of commitment to brand is exactly what makes a Brand Champion.
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