From the clubs to Drag Race to soaps to the stage, Darius Rose aka Jackie Cox is booked, blessed and gorgeous
Jackie, hello! So much has happened since last we spoke! First of all, how fun was it to return to “Days of Our Lives” as a version of yourself? It seems like you had a pretty big and surreal storyline this time around.
Hello, Jim! Yes, a lot has happened! Going back to Days has been so surreal, each time it feels like a true “pinch-me” moment. The whole “Birdcage-esque” plot line was so fun to play, and I can’t say enough great things about working with Peter Porte, who was my scene partner this time around. I hope this fictional version of me gets to come back again and finally exact my revenge on Leo Stark!
You also toured with Jan Sport for a holiday show last month, which was super cute. What’s life on the road with Jan like?
Jan is truly my sister from another mister. We work so well together and know each other so well that it was honestly the most fun I think anyone could possibly have, considering our crazy schedule. We did 16 cities in just three weeks! And most of it was driving in an SUV! So, knowing when to relax, when to take breaks and when to get amped up and ready for the show was something we navigated together really well.
This is really exciting: You’re taking over the role of Kenneth/Kate Marlowe in the one-person show “Make Me Gorgeous” February 1 – 25 at Playhouse 46 at St. Luke’s, care of Triangle Productions! How did you become familiar with this show and what made you want the role?
It all kind of happened very quickly, but around New Year’s, they asked me to come check out the show because they were interested in extending, but needed a replacement, as the incredible Wade McCollum is off to do Water for Elephants on Broadway. I ended up having a very in-depth, two hour lunch with Donnie, the author and director of “Make Me Gorgeous”, where we discussed so many things, but key to our convo was how important this story is and how important it is, as queer artists, to keep sharing our own history.
Kenneth/Kate was a real life LGBTQ trailblazer from the first half of the 20th century that the average person knows little about: a sex worker, a drag burlesque performer, a hairstylist, an author and an early transgender individual. She had a very harrowing and fascinating life! What really speaks to you about her and her story?
What’s incredible about Kenneth/Kate is how hard they pushed the boundaries just to be themself. As you know, the play is primarily the story of their life before transitioning. And I know there will be a part two at some point, played by a brilliant trans actress. As a gender expansive individual myself, what speaks to me about Kenneth’s life is how much they played with gender, and their own role in broader American queer life at a time when it was so dangerous to do so. It reminds us all that not only are we here now–we’ve BEEN here. Drag artists, burlesque artists, queer writers–we are part of the fabric of American culture.
It’s a demanding role. You have to take makeup and costumes on and off multiple times while reading tons of dialog, and there’s lots of physicality with material that’s both funny and heavy. We’ll be seeing a whole new side of Darius! Is that daunting and exciting?
Daunting and exciting are the exact two right words to describe this play and this process! But luckily, Donnie has held my hand every step of the way, and I’m so excited to take the stage, plus a little fear is good. Keeps you on your toes!
Have you spoken to your predecessor, Wade McCollum, about the role at all? I guess taking over a role that another actor originated must be its own challenge.
Wade has been nothing but supportive during this process. They have taken time out of their busy schedule to talk with me and help me pick their brain. Wade has been working on this piece for two years as both the star and contributing writer. So I’m just trying to soak up and synthesize all the amazing work they did, while also putting my own little spin on the piece.
What else is coming up for you?
There are a few things in the works. I shot this really cool indie sci-fi movie called Identiteaze, written and directed by the amazing Jessie Gender, where you’ll see yet another side of Darius! I can’t give away too much, but it’s a bit like a queer version of the TV show Severance. There are also a few other things in the works, but nothing I can announce quite yet.
Finally, have you been watching Season 16 of RuPaul’s Drag Race? Do you have any thoughts on a favorite contestant, the return of immunity, the queens rating each other in the early eps, etc.?
This is such a talented group of girls! I do wish they had worked together more in the first two weeks, as we didn’t get to see much of their personalities, but the bits we’ve seen so far have me intrigued! And honey, immunity? Yes, please. I’m taking my vitamin B12 as we speak!