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'RuPaul's Drag Race' Fan Favorite Chi Chi DeVayne Dies At 34

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

A southern bayou princess has died.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE")

CHI CHI DEVAYNE: I'm Chi Chi, and everybody knows when I get on stage, it's magical.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The drag performer Chi Chi DeVayne, known offstage as Zavion Davenport, died yesterday. Ms. DeVayne was best known for her appearances on two seasons of "RuPaul's Drag Race" competitions.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE")

DEVAYNE: My drag is that real Southern dragged-out style of drag.

SHAPIRO: She grew up in the South in Shreveport, La. Her life there wasn't easy. She was in a gang, and she struggled with her sexuality.

CORNISH: But she found healing in drag. She also worked at the car wash and the grocery store to make ends meet before she got the call from "RuPaul's Drag Race."

SHAPIRO: On the show, she was asked to give advice to her younger self.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE")

DEVAYNE: I would tell little Zavion Davenport that it doesn't matter where you're from and how you grew up, the neighborhood you grew up in. That has nothing to do with how far you can go. Never be ashamed of how you walk, talk because that is going to be the key to your success.

CORNISH: Chi Chi said that her time on the show made her not only a better entertainer but a better person. And when she was eliminated in 2018, RuPaul left her with this.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE")

RUPAUL: Chi Chi, you used your Louisiana glamor to charm the world. Take what you learned here and let them have it.

SHAPIRO: Chi Chi DeVayne was 34 years old. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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