I had the chance to interview Shea Couleé today at her lovely abode in Chicago. The minute I entered the apartment, there was a massive clamor of creativity with an abundance of dresses in closets and wigs being made. This, by all means, was not surprising to me, as Shea and her roommate Beverly Lately’s concepts are riddled in beautiful complexity and structured in heavily conceptual content.
In our interview, we talked about her being born in Warsaw, Indiana and her youth out in Plainfield, Illinois. Shea, from the minute she was 2 years old, was a performer, winning awards at gatherings involved in performance. Not only did she understand she was queer at 4 years old, but up until her eventual coming out period at 15, she never questioned herself. While most of us struggled to understand our sexuality and our gender identity, Shea was very aware at a very young age of who she was, and who she was meant to be.
Whats even more impressive is Shea’s ambition and drive, which can be pinpointed to her mention of studying Alfred Adler (The psychotherapist who founded the ideology of ‘self awareness’) and his reconstructed theories of Teleology, which forms around the idea of a child’s concept of understanding their future self and where they were meant to be. Shea has always known her path to stardom at a young age, and seeing her now.. we all know she is going places.
Out in Plainfield, Illinois Shea was one of the only POC people in her school. She was raised into a town that was 96% white and less than 1% black. In her schooling, she was one of two people that were anything other than white, and rather than defend herself for her race, decided to become a representative of black culture by educating white people of her race at the very early age of 6 years old. Throughout her life, Shea has educated other people about her background and who she was, all the while training herself in the art of dance, art, singing, and theatre.
She was born as a brilliant artist, who not only showed promise in performance, but as a fine artist. The minute I walked into the apartment, I, as a fellow painter who by career also critiques art for a living, asked about an amazing abstract ethereal painting that was on the wall.
“Who painted this piece?”
“Oh, that is Shea’s work”, her roommate Beverly replied.
“You’ve got to be kidding me. I give up!”
Her aspirations were not just dreams or goals, but platforms to accelerate her to where she is now. She spent her entire high school life in the creative arts program to be a fine artist (to which she won awards), and then proceeded to The Columbia College in Chicago to not only do theatre work, but concentrate on a emphasis in costume design.
Her emergence into drag started at Pride in 2011, but her first performance (in part by accident) was at Jeezy’s Juke Joint “ A Black Burly-Q Revue”. With major applause she additionally realized her destiny, and furthered her career at Roscoe’s “Amateur Shows” for about a year and a half. Full of ambition, and yet extremely humble, she continued her career through these talent shows on to “Trannika’s Most Wanted” out at Berlin off of Belmont Street.
The Shea today, is an extremely talented, heavily booked, and glamorous queen who exudes the most essential sensualities of a beautiful coquette. Despite her persona, she does not resign to a ‘character’ to explain who she is. Shea Couleé is Shea Couleé, a tour de force in glamour, talent, beauty, and represents the most epic points of gender performance.