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Being BeBe

Country: USA, Language: English, 90 mins

  • Director: Emily Branham
  • Producer: Emily Branham; Marc Smolowitz

CGiii Comment

There's much more than just a face, behind the make-up of a drag Queen...

BeBe Zahara Benet is an exception, there's much, much more behind the make-up! Sit back, Gin-ax, loosen those belt buckles...because, this ain't the ride you're going to expect!

Way back knew that RuPaul's Drag Race would become as big as it is now. Way back then, no-one knew if there was even going to be a second series! Well...there was...and, the rest, as the say, is herstory!

You can almost hear RuPaul say: Lookie here, My girl is all grown up! The tried and tested formula that is Drag Race now...was only being tried and tested then...and, BeBe  came out on top...winning $10,000, not the 100k it is today!

Just like the prize money, Drag - around the world - has grown exponentially...thanks to RuPaul. Drag, as an artform, started to be recognised. But, what happens to a Drag Queen after the show is over? Remember there were no Las Vegas shows nor spin-offs to rely on. BeBe had a title [that didn't pay the bills] and an ambition [that could, possibly, pay the bills]. Success [for BeBe] was more critical than it was financial. And, honey, criticism sure don't pay those bills!

And then came AllStars 2018...BeBe didn't win...but, it put her back on the international stage and a permanent seat on the Drag Race express. AllStars was seen, by some, as a money-making Drag altruism!

Being BeBe glides from the past to the present, flies back and forth from the USA to Cameroon, goes from family and friends to stages and nightclubs and back again...with ease. BeBe's wit, warmth and intelligence shine through at every stage. There's no delusion, just the realism that this Drag Superstar is a whose shoulders the younger princesses will stand upon.



The(ir) Blurb...

In 2009, BeBe Zahara Benet went from performing at Minneapolis Pride to being crowned the triumphant winner of season one of RuPaul’s Drag Race. When you’ve always found yourself the biggest personality in every room you enter, being thrust into the spotlight of the public stage should feel like a natural fit. But as a Cameroonian-American immigrant, BeBe - aka Marshall Ngwa - felt the pressure of conflicting cultural expectations. How does one embrace a career as a proud LGBTQ performer in the US, while anticipating the disapproval of conservative Cameroon, where being gay is an imprisonable offense? And how do you live up to being one of West Africa’s biggest success stories, while simultaneously being underestimated and discriminated against in the American entertainment industry? With all eyes on him, Marshall does what only he can, navigating the complexities of race, gender and sexuality with poise, persistence and purpose. Sharing 15 years of unfettered access to Marshall’s story, filmmaker Emily Branham presents his unique love affair with performance alongside his unstoppable pursuit of Queer Black Excellence, offering an unprecedented portrait of an artist who chooses to live a creative life against all odds. - Lucy Mukerjee