'Canada's Drag Race' winner Priyanka shares makeup and beauty tips and teams up with Quo Beauty for Pride collection

By Russ Martin

Priyanka won the hearts of Canadians with her charm and self-confidence on Canada’s Drag Race. Since snatching the crown on the franchise's first Canadian season, the drag queen has gone on to tour across the country, release original music and launch a podcast with fellow drag star Brooke Lynn Hytes.

Now Priyanka, known to many as former YTV host Mark Suki, has teamed up with Quo Beauty for the launch of the brand's first Pride-themed makeup collection.

Ten per cent of sales from the Quo Beauty Pride Collection up to $20,000 will be donated to PFLAG Canada, which helps parents support and understand their LGBTQ+ kids. So you'll be supporting a good cause while looking amazing! Shoppers Drug Mart has also committed to supporting PFLAG Canada, PFLAG Toronto and Toronto's 519 community centre with a $20,000 donation.

Priyanka is also gearing up to host the Toronto Pride Parade and release her first album (due out this summer!), and ahead of these milestones, the drag sensation joined HELLO! Canada on Zoom – in full glam, no less! – to talk about bold makeup choices, inclusive beauty and what Pride means to her.

Quo Beauty's Pride collection is full of colourful and gorgeous colours that are perfect for Pride month! Photo: © Shoppers Drug Mart

HELLO! Canada: This collection is super colourful, do you have any advice – or, better yet, tips – for how to incorporate colour into the makeup bag for card-carrying members of the beige brigade?

Priyanka: Colours are the one thing that makes me feel more proud to be who I am. I love pink eyeshadow! It’s so important to add a little bit of colour. Look for an excuse – is it Christmas and you want to wear red eyeshadow? Is it Easter? Is it Pride? Whatever it is, find the excuse for yourself and just throw some colour on!

What are your personal go-to makeup colours?

I love a light pink and purple blended eye. I love a light pink lip – today I’m wearing the Gumdrop Velvet Kiss Liquid Lipstick from Quo Beauty because I'm obsessed with it. And anything blue – blue is such a cold colour but on darker skin it looks so beautiful.

Velvet Kiss Liquid Lipstick from Quo Beauty; $14, Shoppers Drug Mart

Photo: © Shoppers Drug Mart

Your cultural background is Indo-Caribbean. Do you have any tips for folks with a similar skin tone to you?

Priming is very important. Not only priming your skin for the makeup to take onto it, but if you’re trying to use bright colours, prime with lighter colours so the pigment shows up. The highlighter I use on my face is a light, vanilla-y colour even though I'm a brown person. When I blend it with my blush and my contour powders it shows up so much brighter – which is beautiful!

Who are your beauty idols?

I would say my mom. My mom is so fearless with her makeup and I want everyone to have that fearlessness in them. She wears the Red Velvet Quo Beauty lipstick. She says people listen to her if she wears a red lip!

What's your favourite product in the Quo Beauty Pride Collection?

The palette! I did my whole eye with it today – red, pink, blue, purple, green and yellow! – but I also like using it as a blush. It softens everything.

The makeup world is rapidly changing. What do you think about the industry expanding to focus on people of many different genders?

I LOVE it. When I was a younger boy, I was so afraid to wear make-up or even talk about it, but I'd always watch my mom put on her makeup. I'd sit in the bathroom with her and she'd be putting on my lipstick and mascara and I'd wish someone would take an eyeshadow brush to my eye or let me wear a lipstick.

Pushing the narrative further that boys can wear makeup, too, and so can girls and non-binary people and people who don't even want to assign themselves any label, I think it's beautiful. Makeup, for me, is the universal language of confidence. Whenever we put makeup on, it makes us feel so much more confident.

What was the first piece of makeup you ever used?

For Halloween, my friends all wanted to be different stages of Britney Spears's career. I got assigned "Oops!...I Did it Again" Britney, so I went into the Quo Beauty section and found a silver highlighter. I didn't know what I was doing at the time, I was like, "Something shiny!" I remember scooping it out and putting it on my eye.

HELLO! Canada readers love the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan. What do you think of her glam?

Oh my goodness, if I could have that soft, soft Meghan Markle skin?! I think her glam is incredible. It's very natural, very beautiful. Ten out of 10!

At the 2020 Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey, Meghan looked incredibly glam in bold blue eyeshadow applied by makeup artist Daniel Martin, which she paired with berry lipgloss, highlighter and a green Emilia Wickstead outfit! Photos: © Chris Jackson/Getty Images and Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

As a drag performer you go bold with your makeup. What can the rest of us learn about beauty from drag performers?

It takes a lot of courage to put all this makeup on your face, go out into the public and do a number and turn the party. I remember seeing my first few drag queens and thinking, "Wow, I wish I had as much confidence as them." What I want people to take from drag performers is that courage, whether it's through makeup, confidence, chasing your dreams or taking a risk in your life. Just do it!

I loved your music video for "Cake"! What was the glam inspo for the shoot?

The first look, in that weird white nightie, the glam inspo for that was Neve Campbell in Scream. The latex look is inspired by Billie Eilish's Vogue cover, which I’m obsessed with. As the looks progressed, it was me in my head, thinking about what I wanted to say about the character in the video who was going against the government to take over and really fight for freedom.

Viewers loved learning about your path to acceptance with your family on Canada’s Drag Race. Do you have any advice for young queer people going through the same thing?

It's so important to be unapologetically yourself. If your family isn't the most supportive, if there's some push back on your sexuality or who you are, you have to find people who are accepting of you. Having that acceptance in your life is what's going to help you thrive and achieve your goals. If that's not your immediate family, there are other people out there who will support you.

What does Pride mean to you and how do you carry its message with you year-round?

Pride means everything to me. I'll never forget my first Pride. These kids recognized me from YTV. They were like, "Oh, we didn't realize we'd see a kids TV host here being himself." Pride to me means being the representation for people who don't have it so easy and need an easier time coming out of the closet.

What are your plans for Pride?

I'm hosting the Toronto Pride Parade! I'm working on my music, my album is coming out this summer. I've got so many virtual gigs and I'm going to make sure everyone feels loved, accepted and happy.

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