Who is Alyssa Edwards?
“Alyssa Edwards” is the pseudonym of Justin Dwayne Lee Johnson, an American drag queen, choreographer, and businessperson, best known for being part of the popular American show ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race.’ He was born and raised in Mesquite, Texas. His parents enrolled him at a football academy. However, little Justin was more interested in cheerleading and dressing up as girls. His uncle was a gay actor and had a strong influence on Justin, who then became inspired to pursue entertainment as a career. He enrolled into jazz classes. Justin first witnessed a drag show at a local gay bar, and he was amazed. Justin also participated in many gay beauty pageants and won quite a lot of them. By 2012, Justin had made a name for himself as his stage persona, “Alyssa.” The same year, he was invited to be one of the drag queens on the show ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race.’ He currently owns and runs a studio named ‘Beyond Belief Dance Company.’ In 2018, Alyssa appeared on a ‘Netflix’ documentary film titled ‘Dancing Queen.’
Childhood & Early Life
Alyssa Edwards was born Justin Dwayne Lee Johnson, on January 16, 1980, in Mesquite, Texas, into a working-class family. Justin grew up in a huge middle-class household. He watched shows such as ‘Who’s the Boss?’ Actor Alyssa Milano, who was part of the show, later served as an inspiration for Justin to choose his stage name.
Justin grew up in a typical American household. His father enrolled him into a football league when Justin was 7 years old. He did not like sports and was more interested in the cheerleaders, the work they did, the way they looked, and the way they did their makeup.
After he got injured while playing football, Justin spent less time playing and more time observing the cheerleaders. During those formative years, the seed of his future career was planted in Justin’s psyche.
Justin knew quite early that he was not like the other boys of his age. His mother was always supportive of him, along with his uncle, who was a gay actor working at a theater in Texas. Justin visited his uncle during his performances many times and got highly influenced. His uncle was the first person to identify a hidden talent in Justin and urged his parents to enrol him into dance classes.
Justin started attending jazz-dance lessons, which was a revelation for him. He enjoyed dancing and choreography. He spent many hours before and after his classes just sitting and observing other dancers.
He would then come back home and practice feminine dance moves with his sisters. He was a teenager at that time and decided to pursue a career in drag.
The Texan society around Justin’s hometown was not too progressive, and he received quite a lot of criticism from his parents and relatives. However, he decided to ignore everything and pursue his dreams.
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Justin entered a gay bar for the first time at the age of 19 in Dallas, Texas. He was heavily inspired by the vibe the bar had. A few days later, he saw a poster for an amateur show and immediately decided to participate in it. By then, he had become an exceptional dancer and theater actor.
Justin met and received guidance from Laken Edwards, a popular drag queen. He adopted the first name “Alyssa” and the last name “Edwards,” marking his association with “the Haus of Edwards.”
In 2004, Alyssa began participating in gay beauty pageants. She won a handful of them in the subsequent years. Some of the pageants that Alyssa won were ‘Miss Gay Texas America 2005,’ ‘Miss Gay USofA 2006,’ ‘Miss Texas Continental 2007,’ ‘Miss Gay America 2010,’ and ‘All American Goddess 2010.’
In 2008, Alyssa appeared in the documentary titled ‘Pageant,’ a film that focused on the 34th ‘Miss Gay America’ pageant held in 2004. Alyssa played herself in the film. The movie received rave reviews from critics. The film won awards at the ‘Florida Film Festival’ and ‘Chicago Image Out Festival.’
However, in 2010, Alyssa faced a major career roadblock. She was named the winner of the ‘Miss Gay America’ pageant in 2010, but the title was withdrawn due to a conflict of interest. The same year, she was also stripped of her ‘All American Goddess’ title.
However, in 2012, Alyssa got a huge break, as she was selected as one of the 14 drag queens to be featured on the show ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race.’ One of her main competitors on the show was Coco Montrese, who was given the title of ‘Miss Gay America 2010’ after Alyssa was stripped of the honor.
Despite her best efforts, Alyssa could not go past the ninth episode and was eliminated. She ended up at the sixth spot in the final ratings. However, she was one of the most popular contestants on the show and was invited to be part of the podcast titled ‘RuPaul: What’s the Tee?’
Alyssa has also appeared in the web series titled ‘Alyssa’s Secret.’ Produced by the ‘World of Wonder Productions,’ the web series featured Alyssa as she spoke on a variety of topics. Guests were also invited from time to time, and many of them were fellow drag queens from “the Haus of Edwards.”
In 2016, Alyssa made a comeback in the sixth season of the show ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars.’ Despite her popularity being far better than the last time she was on the show, she could not win and ended up at the fifth spot.
Currently, Justin owns his own dance studio named ‘Beyond Belief Dance Company’ in Mesquite, Texas. Apart from owning the establishment, he also works as a head teacher there.
In 2018, Alyssa appeared in the documentary series ‘Dancing Queen’ as one of its main stars. The documentary is currently streaming on ‘Netflix’ and is based on the lives of drag queens.
Family & Personal Life
Justin started dating a man named Marco in 2014. He has openly accepted his relationship through interviews, ‘YouTube’ videos, and social-media posts.
Rumors also suggest that he is currently dating dance instructor Manny Silveyra.