The Center for Cartoon Studies
in White River Junction announced on Friday that its 2020 commencement speaker will be Sasha Velour
, a CCS alumnus and an internationally acclaimed gender-fluid drag artist.
Velour, who graduated from CCS in 2013, became a household name after winning the 2017 season of "RuPaul's Drag Race." In an interview
with WCAX-TV after being crowned "America's Next Drag Superstar," Velour told host Darren Perron that her performance career began in White River Junction, when she would dress up to attend "Drag Race"
Through her performances, Velour said, she channels her background in cartooning: "I always think about designing a character that would read in a comic book, and then I just get to put it out into the world," she said.
"Cartooning played a crucial role in Sasha Velour's origin story," said James Sturm, cofounder and director of CCS. "She was asked to be the commencement speaker because she is brilliant and inspiring. I don't know what Sasha will say, but I do know that Sasha knows exactly what it feels like to be on the other side of the podium and can speak to the excitement and dread the graduates may be feeling as they leave a tight-knit community to make their way in the world."
Since her victorious emergence on reality television, Velour has toured around the world, produced a New York Fashion Week show for the brand Opening Ceremony, performed on a float during the 2019 New York City World Pride parade, and designed a 300-page tome on the art of drag — a compilation of illustrations, collages and writing by queer artists and performers — titled, of course, Velour
. She is currently developing a TV adaptation of her drag revue, "Nightgowns," which will air on a new streaming platform, Quibi, later this year.