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Look Over There! Jaida Essence Hall Is A Drag Race Winner, Baby

By Christopher Rudolph Look over there, it’s a winner! On the Season 12 premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race Jaida Essence Hall stomped into the workroom, making her presence known with her line: “Hey bitches, she’s here!” Throughout the competition Jaida was not only the “essence of beauty” on and off the runway, she was also…

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By Christopher Rudolph
Look over there, it’s a winner!
On the Season 12 premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race Jaida Essence Hall stomped into the workroom, making her presence known with her line: “Hey bitches, she’s here!” Throughout the competition Jaida was not only the “essence of beauty” on and off the runway, she was also a consistently strong queen — eventually taking her to the top three and over the finish line.
The Milwaukee-based pageant queen not only served effortless eleganza with her larger-than-life fashion, but she was also a comedic powerhouse. She was always able to squeeze a few laughs, whether as a bad apple in the “World’s Worst” sketch or as Rhonda Shimes in “Gay’s Anatomy.” Her candid “Look over there” line from the “Choices 2020” political debate became an instant meme. Jaida was also a lip-sync assassin, sending Miss Congeniality Heidi N. Closet home, before beating Crystal Methyd and Gigi Goode during the finale.
Jaida was crowned the winner of Season 12, but the road to the top was not always smooth. She spoke with MTV News about her toughest times on the show, her emotional exchange with Whoopi Goldberg, and how Celie’s journey in The Color Purple inspired her during the competition.
MTV News: What was the hardest part about filming the remote finale?
Jaida Essence Hall: The hardest part about filming the finale was getting used to the fact that it would be different. It’s a little scary but, at the same time, it presents a good opportunity for the world to see exactly how creative both the show and the queens can be when put in a difficult situation.
MTV News: The entire cast was so strong. Have you been keeping in touch with all of your Season 12 sisters?
Jaida: Yeah. We’ve all been staying really, really close with each other. So, I’m thankful that this has been a cast of loving girls. Because I can imagine, if we all hated each other, it would be a lot harder.
MTV News: You can tell that all you girls get along and it’s really nice to see.
Jaida: Yeah, it’s a really good thing.
MTV News: There were some really tough challenges this season. What was the hardest challenge for you? 
Jaida: The one-woman show. I think that challenge was so difficult because humor is so different to so many different people. And I think that was the one thing that kind of tripped me up. My humor, I don’t know if it’s always funny to everybody all the time or if they always get it.
MTV News: The scene between you and Whoopi was one of my favorite scenes from the season. What was that like? What was going through your mind?
Jaida: It was so crazy because as a Black, queer person growing up… we don’t see that many successful people or successful in that kind of way in lives. And she’s just so lovable to so many people, and so kind. And to see her be so successful and, while I was growing up, playing roles and characters that resonated with me, just seeing her there in person was almost like one of Oprah’s “aha” moments. And to know how busy her schedule is and how busy her life is, and to come to the show and spend time with drag queens and talk to us. I just did not imagine in a million years that I would see Whoopi Goldberg in person.
MTV News: Yeah, it’s crazy. You have said the competition was kind of like Celie’s journey in The Color Purple?
Jaida: Yeah. In no way is it overtly comparable, it’s just the fact that you go through so many rough things. Celie went through a lot of terrible, terrible things. But in the show you get pushed through so many things. You’re tested. And you feel alone at a lot of times, but if you make it through the competition, there’s so much reward on the other end of it. As long as you hold it together and allow yourself to make it through.
MTV News: Are you a fan of The Color Purple musical?
Jaida: Oh, my God, yes. Getting ready for the purple runway, I was like, oh, my God, I’m going to listen to The Color Purple soundtrack.
MTV News:  Do you like “I’m Here”?
Jaida: “I’m Here” is so good. My favorite song is when Shug is singing to Celie and telling her, “Look how beautiful you are. Do you realize how beautiful and how amazing and how gorgeous you are? Even when you feel like you are so ugly and you feel worthless.” That, to me, that’s the most powerful message. And every time I hear that song, I get chills and goosebumps all down my arm. The show is amazing and the soundtrack is amazing.
MTV News: Yeah. I didn’t realize you were such a musical theater fan, but I saw you tweeted about Smash coming to Broadway.
Jaida: Yes! I have been waiting for it. Because they said a while back that they would turn it into a musical. But I just want it to be the Bombshell story. Turn Bombshell into a musical!
MTV News: How have you been passing the time in quarantine?
Jaida: I’ve been sitting around the house trying to be as creative as I possibly can. But also I’ve been spending a lot of time connecting with the people who support me from the show. They support my journey on the show. I think that’s really important since we haven’t been on the road. And these people, they want to meet us. And even when we don’t know that we’ve been an impact in their lives, we have been in a lot of ways to so many people. And because we’re not on the road, we don’t get the opportunity to meet them and talk to them and hear their stories. So, I’ve been spending a lot of time on social media, making sure that I can talk to them, learn who they are as much as show who I am, and just uplift each other.
MTV News: Just a quick glance at the comments online, it is clear that the fans were rooting for you to win. How’s that feel? Is there a lot of pressure?
Jaida: I don’t think it’s pressure, because a lot of them are, “Well, you got this. But if you don’t, we still love you.” But it’s so unexpected. I didn’t expect it to be so many people going crazy for me. It means a lot. I think it speaks to me just being myself. I don’t speak the best. I might not be the smartest person in the whole world, but I’m still going to be who I am. And I feel deserving of things. I can still be amazing, creative, and there are so many people out there in the world who are exactly like me. And I think that people love the girls from the show because they can see themselves in those girls.
MTV News: And have you been in touch with your drag daughter, Jazz?
Jaida: Yes. Oh, my God, we talk all the time. She is so sweet. She’s always messaging me, checking up on me. The five of us — Heidi, myself, Gigi, Crystal, Jackie — we all had a Zoom call with the superfans. We all chatted and talked and met their partners. It was really cute.
MTV News: How did the competition change your drag?
Jaida: I’ve always been the type of person who was myself in everything that I did. People love to say drag queens are confident, but I don’t always feel the most confident. But throughout the competition, I’ve learned that, not only just be yourself, but bitch, yourself is really kind of cute. And you have the right to be confident in who you are. And you have the right to be proud of the work that you do. I’ve learned that what I do in drag and who I am is enough. And you can be yourself, but you don’t have to always overcompensate. And you want to work hard, but you don’t always have to try to work harder, harder, harder. Who you are is literally enough.

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Suspect arraigned in killing of US Marine veteran in Russia

A court in central Russia on Sunday arraigned a suspect on murder charges in the death of an American woman who was studying at a local university. The body of 34-year-old Catherine Serou was found Saturday in a wooded area near the city of Nizhny Novgorod, 250 miles east of Moscow. She had been missing…

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A court in central Russia on Sunday arraigned a suspect on murder charges in the death of an American woman who was studying at a local university. The body of 34-year-old Catherine Serou was found Saturday in a wooded area near the city of Nizhny Novgorod, 250 miles east of Moscow. She had been missing since Tuesday. Her mother, Beccy Serou, of Vicksburg, Mississippi, told U.S. National Public Radio that her daughter had last texted her: “In a car with a stranger. I hope I’m not being abducted.” State news agency RIA-Novosti cited the local court as saying the suspect gave her a ride in his car, then took her to the wooden area and beat her and stabbed her “in the course of a dispute.” Russian news reports have identified the suspect as Alexander Popov and said he had a record of violent crimes. He faces up to life in prison if convicted of murder. Serou moved from California to Russia in 2019 to study law at Lobachevsky University in Nizhny Novgorod, news reports said. She had served as a logistics/embark specialist in the United States Marine Corps, getting out as a corporal in 2011, according to her releasable service records. Get the Marine Corps Times Daily News Roundup Don’t miss the top Marine Corps stories, delivered each afternoon (please select a country)United StatesUnited KingdomAfghanistanAlbaniaAlgeriaAmerican SamoaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBoliviaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of TheCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’ivoireCroatiaCubaCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuamGuatemalaGuineaGuinea-bissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMarshall IslandsMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMicronesia, Federated States ofMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNetherlands AntillesNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorthern Mariana IslandsNorwayOmanPakistanPalauPalestinian Territory, OccupiedPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalPuerto RicoQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRwandaSaint HelenaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and The GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbia and MontenegroSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and The South Sandwich IslandsSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwan, Province of ChinaTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-lesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUnited States Minor Outlying IslandsUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuelaViet NamVirgin Islands, BritishVirgin Islands, U.S.Wallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabwe Subscribe × By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Marine Corps Times Daily News Roundup. She had one deployment to Afghanistan from November 2008 to April 2009, Yvonne Carlock, Deputy Communications Strategy Officer with Manpower & Reserve Affairs, told Marine Corps Times on Monday. Her last duty station was 2nd Radio Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Her service awards include the National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Navy Unit Commendation, NATO-ISAF Afghanistan, and a Good Conduct Medal. Beccy Serou told NPR that her daughter was in a hurry to get to a clinic Tuesday and may have gotten into a passing car. “I think that when she saw that the person wasn’t driving to the clinic, but instead was driving into a forest, she panicked,” Beccy Serou said. Marine Corps Times reporter Philip Athey contributed to this report.

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Army investigating death of Fort Bragg soldier killed on way to range

The U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center is leading an inquiry into an accident at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, involving an 18-wheeler and a backhoe that killed a soldier and injured two others Thursday morning. Safety investigators from the USACRC out of Fort Rucker, Alabama, are being dispatched to probe the accident, which involved an M-1088…

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The U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center is leading an inquiry into an accident at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, involving an 18-wheeler and a backhoe that killed a soldier and injured two others Thursday morning. Safety investigators from the USACRC out of Fort Rucker, Alabama, are being dispatched to probe the accident, which involved an M-1088 High Mobility Engineer Excavator, according to a command press release. The soldiers involved in the accident were assigned to the 20th Engineer Brigade, according to Mike Negard, a spokesperson for USACRC. However, their names are still being withheld pending notification of next of kin. The deadly accident took place at about 9:15 a.m. Thursday when the 18-wheeler carrying the three soldiers ran into the back of the M-1088 excavator while on the way to a training range, a Fort Bragg official said. The soldier killed in the accident was the one driving the 18-wheeler, the official added. The soldiers had to be extracted from the vehicle on Raeford-Vass Road near its intersection with Plank Road. Raeford-Vass Road is one of several gravel roads — which make it more difficult for heavy vehicles to safely brake — leading to training ranges on Fort Bragg. “The accidental death of this Soldier is tragic; my thoughts and prayers are with the Family,” said Col. Scott Pence, Fort Bragg Garrison commander. Sign up for the Army Times Daily News Roundup Don’t miss the top Army stories, delivered each afternoon (please select a country)United StatesUnited KingdomAfghanistanAlbaniaAlgeriaAmerican SamoaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBoliviaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of TheCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’ivoireCroatiaCubaCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuamGuatemalaGuineaGuinea-bissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMarshall IslandsMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMicronesia, Federated States ofMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNetherlands AntillesNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorthern Mariana IslandsNorwayOmanPakistanPalauPalestinian Territory, OccupiedPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalPuerto RicoQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRwandaSaint HelenaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and The GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbia and MontenegroSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and The South Sandwich IslandsSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwan, Province of ChinaTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-lesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUnited States Minor Outlying IslandsUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuelaViet NamVirgin Islands, BritishVirgin Islands, U.S.Wallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabwe Subscribe × By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Army Times Daily News Roundup. USACRC has the authority to take over Army accident investigations, and “makes every attempt” to investigate fatal accidents, the command’s release said.

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This week in Congress: Final budget pitches before appropriators take their first swings

Defense officials will make another round of budget pitches on Capitol Hill this week as House members start their appropriations work with an eye towards final proposals next month. On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin makes his fourth appearance before Congress in five weeks to discuss the White House’s spending plans, this time answering questions…

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Defense officials will make another round of budget pitches on Capitol Hill this week as House members start their appropriations work with an eye towards final proposals next month. On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin makes his fourth appearance before Congress in five weeks to discuss the White House’s spending plans, this time answering questions from the House Armed Services Committee. One week later, the House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to begin marking up its draft of the annual defense budget. The White House has asked for a $753 billion national defense budget for fiscal 2022, a figure that many conservatives have attacked as too small to meet current threats and some progressives have labeled still too large given recent spending boosts in recent years. Full committee mark-up of the defense spending plans isn’t scheduled to be completed until July 15, and the full House chamber likely won’t vote on the plan until September. Meanwhile, Senate appropriators still have not released a budget schedule, meaning the debate will likely linger late into the fall. Tuesday, June 22Senate Armed Services — 9:30 a.m. — G-50 Dirksen Navy/Marine Corps budgetActing Navy Secretary Thomas Harker, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday, and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger will testify on the fiscal 2022 budget request. Senate Appropriations — 10 a.m. — 192 Dirksen Army budgetArmy Secretary Christine Wormuth and Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville will testify on the fiscal 2022 budget request. Senate Armed Services — 2:30 p.m. — 232-A Russell Air Force modernization Service officials will testify on modernization efforts and the fiscal 2022 budget request. Wednesday, June 23House Armed Services — 10 a.m. — 2118 Rayburn Defense budget Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley will testify on the fiscal 2022 budget request. Senate Appropriations — 10 a.m. — 138 Dirksen VA BudgetVA Secretary Denis McDonough will testify on the fiscal 2022 budget request. Senate Armed Services — 2 p.m. — 222 Russell Ransomware attacksMaj. Gen. Kevin Kennedy, director of operations for U.S. Cyber Command, will testify on recent ransomware attacks and the Defense Department response. Senate Judiciary — 2:30 p.m. — 226 Dirksen ImmigrationVeterans advocates will testify on immigration and citizenship policies for veterans and military members. House Foreign Affairs — 3 p.m. — online hearing Caribbean strategyState Department officials will testify on U.S. engagement and strategy in the Caribbean. Senate Veterans’ Affairs — 3 p.m. — 418 Russell Pending legislationThe committee will consider several pending bills. Thursday, June 24House Foreign Affairs — 10 a.m. — online hearing LGBTQI rights State Department officials will testify on challenges to LGBTQI rights abroad. House Foreign Affairs — 10 a.m. — online hearingNATO Former NATO Secretary General Fogh Rasmussen and other outside experts will testify on the current and future status of the alliance. Senate Appropriations — 10 a.m. — 192 Dirksen Navy and Marine Corps budgetActing Navy Secretary Thomas Harker, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday, and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger will testify on the fiscal 2022 budget request. House Budget — 10:30 a.m. — 210 Cannon Defense budgetDefense Department Comptroller Michael McCord will testify on the fiscal 2022 budget request.

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