Atlanta’s Lala Ri and Tamisha Iman on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ season 13

Metro Atlanta contestants on reality shows in early 2021: Lala Ri, Tamisha Iman (RuPaul's Drag Race), Syann Williams (Hell's Kitchen) and Rachael Kirkconnell (The Bachelor). VH1, Fox, ABC
Metro Atlanta contestants on reality shows in early 2021: Lala Ri, Tamisha Iman (RuPaul's Drag Race), Syann Williams (Hell's Kitchen) and Rachael Kirkconnell (The Bachelor). VH1, Fox, ABC

Credit: VH1, Fox, ABC

Credit: VH1, Fox, ABC

Other locals on “The Bachelor” and “Hell’s Kitchen”

Early January brings back several long-running reality shows.

Here’s a rundown of the metro Atlanta contestants on three of them:

Matt James, the charismatic and engaging star of ABC's hit romance reality series "The Bachelor," will hand out the roses for its momentous 25th season. (ABC/Craig Sjodin)
RACHAEL, MATT JAMES
Matt James, the charismatic and engaging star of ABC's hit romance reality series "The Bachelor," will hand out the roses for its momentous 25th season. (ABC/Craig Sjodin) RACHAEL, MATT JAMES

Credit: ABC

Credit: ABC

ABC’s The Bachelor season 25

Season 25 features the first Black “Bachelor,” Matt James. The 32 ladies he met at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Farmington, Pennsylvania features one local contestant, who appeared with the others in the opening episode that aired Monday, Jan. 4.

Rachael Kirkconnell

Age: 24

Residence: Cumming

Air time on opening episode: Ample. Matt liked her a lot. She was the third woman to get a rose in the first rose ceremony. It’s clear Rachael will be around awhile.

Rachael’s initial impression of Matt: After he did a prayer and introduction speaking about vulnerability, the ladies gathered together, and Rachael started crying happy tears. “Everything he said, I really related to that,” she told another lady. To the cameras, she said she had a feeling she’d be infatuated with Matt, and she was. “The fact he opened with a prayer struck a nerve with me. I didn’t expect to feel like this so soon. He’s pretty much like I expected him to be and more.”

Matt’s initial impression of Rachael: She was the second woman who came out of the limo, and he was immediately struck by her beauty. Their first conversation went well. “I was so unsure of this whole thing going into it,” she said. When she saw who he was and that he hadn’t done the show before, she wanted to do it with him. She told him how his prayer impacted her soul in a good way. She admitted to difficulties with vulnerability, just as he did. “I’ve always had a guard up because every time I’ve let that guard down, it’s never worked out because it’s scary and showing my true self because I’m scared they’re going to judge me for that.”

Matt said vulnerability is a good thing because people should accept you for who you really are. If not, you move on.

He described her as articulate and sexy. He liked that she was willing to be open and vulnerable. “That’s what I asked the women to do,” he said. “She’s taking the challenge head-on, and she’s blowing me away.” (But he gave the first kiss to Abigail Heringer, who also received the coveted First Impression Rose.)

Annoyance alert: “Queen” Victoria Larson almost seems like a plant meant to aggravate the other ladies, wearing a crown and waltzing around like she owned the place. She not only was the last lady out of the car but was given the very last rose as a way to tamp down her “reality show” confidence. Yes, the producers used her for some likely manufactured drama. She will not be the last woman standing.

HOW TO WATCH

“The Bachelor,” 8 p.m. Mondays on ABC, available the next day for Hulu subscribers

Lala Ri moments after she enters "RuPaul's Drag Race" season 13 that debuted Jan. 1, 2021. VH1
Lala Ri moments after she enters "RuPaul's Drag Race" season 13 that debuted Jan. 1, 2021. VH1

Credit: VH1

Credit: VH1

VH1′s “RuPaul’s Drag Race” season 13

This new season was shot during the pandemic this past summer with drag queens, including the first trans contestant. Two Atlantans are vying for the crown, and they know each other.

LaLa Ri

Age: 30

Residence: Atlanta, grew up in East Atlanta

How long doing drag: Three years. She was a back-up dancer when drag queen Tamisha Iman eight years ago gave her a shot to dabble in drag. “I didn’t take it seriously and went back to dance.” But she committed three years ago and was proud to make it on the show in her first audition.

Her style: “I’m going to give it to you and make you watch me. I’m a showgirl. I love to dance. I love to entertain. I have a little sex appeal... I love to show off my legs. I work hard for my padded [butt]. I am a girl of many talents... I am everybody’s favorite homegirl. I’m very relatable. I have style. I have grace.”

Her potential problem: Sewing. She is not that good at it.

Worshipping RuPaul, who started his drag career in Atlanta in the 1980s: “RuPaul is a literal goddess. I think I hold my breath every time I’m in the same room as RuPaul. How can I breathe the same air? He paved the way for all of us to live our dreams. I’m forever grateful for that.”

First episode: The show tricked the cast members by having them do a lip sync challenge at the very start. “I was really dumbfounded,” she said. He won the challenge against Denali to the song “Call Me Maybe”

Current works at: Lips Atlanta, a drag theater

Tamisha Iman

Age: In her 50s (exact age not revealed) and has been in the drag world for 30 years

Residence: Atlanta but born in Birmingham. She has lived in many cities, including Dallas and New Orleans, but Atlanta is truly her home. She became a dad at age 15 and struggled for years and was homeless for a time.

Veteran drag queen in Atlanta: Over the years, she has worked Backstreet, the Armory, Burkhart’s Pub and Blake’s. Her specialty was doing pageants.

Her style: “I could be your best friends or your worst enemy. It depends. I have a loving spirit, but if you challenge in my craft, you know you made a mistake. I’m a complete package. Everything I wear I make, from my jewelry and outfit. I do my own makeup and my hair... I’m very haute couture. If I can create something in my mind, I’m going to bring it to life. I’m not one to emulate other entertainers. I’m a trendsetter... I try to leave you with something you didn’t expect. I don’t want to be repetitious or complacent.”

Why she did the show: “It’s cute the local people know the journey. To create a legacy, I wanted the world to see my journey so they can respect the legacy.”

Cancer survivor: She had been cast for season 12 but was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer a day later and had to have radiation and chemo treatment instead. “It devastated me. It got so bad, I couldn’t walk... The fact I could come back here within a year, I’m a conqueror.”

First episode: She lost her lip sync challenge against Symone to the song “Pleasure Principle” but still pulled off very respectable Janet Jackson dance moves. “It was one of my tunes back in the day,” she said. She was given the initial impression she was booted, but that wasn’t the case. She, of course, thought she had won the challenge: “I was proud of myself because, at that stage, I was still sick. I didn’t have full strength in my legs. And that was not a performance outfit.”

Her thoughts on the cast: “Half were amazing. Half were typical drag queens.” She said some think they have to be ill-tempered and malicious because that’s the stereotype. “It’s not required. We are all in the same industry. We should support each other.” She said she wants to set a good example for the younger generation, who appreciate her for her outspokenness and need to defend the downtrodden and the underdog.

When she found out Lala was cast: “I was ecstatic. I was like a proud parent.”

Her goal on the show: “It’s not about the crown anymore for me. It’s about the impact you can make on the world through your gift. If I can inspire others to push through tough situations like I have, then I’ve won.”

HOW TO WATCH

“RuPaul’s Drag Race,” Fridays at 8 p.m. on VH1, on demand for cable subscribers the next day

(Left to right): Host Gordon Ramsay and contestants Syann Williams and Cody Candelario on the season 15 debut of "Hell's Kitchen." Scott Kirkland / FOX. © 2021 FOX MEDIA LLC.
(Left to right): Host Gordon Ramsay and contestants Syann Williams and Cody Candelario on the season 15 debut of "Hell's Kitchen." Scott Kirkland / FOX. © 2021 FOX MEDIA LLC.

Credit: Scott Kirkland / FOX

Credit: Scott Kirkland / FOX

Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen” season 19

This season was shot in the summer of 2019 in Las Vegas, long before the pandemic, so it’s been sitting on the shelf for 18 months. The show returns on Thursday, Jan. 7 on Fox at 8 p.m.

Syann Williams

Age: 28 (26 when the show was shot)

Residence: Atlanta

Cooking roots: Her grandfather was in insurance but loved to cook and inspired her when she spent summers with him in Kansas City. Syann called him the “Black Emeril.” At first, she considered going into nursing until she blanched at the sight of blood. He encouraged her to go to the Art Institute of Atlanta and focus on cooking as a career.

Jobs: Pasta girl at the Sheraton. Catering. Cook on a cruise ship.

What now: She is now running her own catering and personal chef business, Kravee Kitchenz.

Why “Hell’s Kitchen”: She said she didn’t initially think of doing it, but when offered the chance, decided to go for it. Besides, “it’s my mom’s favorite show.”

Her cooking point of view: “My flair is Caribbean southern with a barbecue twist. I love my clients and cooking. You can taste the love in it. There are fancy chefs who do tiny plates for $150. That’s not what I do. My goal is to feed you.”

Her view of Cody, a very arrogant castmate this season: “I meet a million Cody’s a day. One thing about chefs: when our stuff is good, we can be a bit arrogant. It’s cool.”

WHERE TO WATCH

“Hell’s Kitchen,” season 19 debuts Thursday, Jan. 7 at 8 p.m. on Fox. Also available for Hulu the next day.

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