Wright State grad competes on MTV’s ‘Drag Race’

New season of hit reality show premieres Friday.



Attention staff! Amanda Tori Meating, a drag queen with Dayton roots, is among the 14 contestants on Season 16 of the Emmy Award-winning hit reality television show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” premiering at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 5 on MTV.

“When I perform in drag, there’s no other choice than to be everything I’ve always loved about myself and thought was hilarious, smart, sexy or fierce,” says Philip Stock, a 2018 Wright State University musical theatre graduate who has performed drag as Amanda since 2021. “Drag unleashes the menace I’ve been keeping inside for a long time.”

Unlike others who auditioned multiple times hoping to be a part of RuPaul’s illustrious troupe, Stock’s first audition video sealed the deal. The call came last spring for the 2014 Stivers School for the Arts graduate to join what continues to be a huge showcase for queer representation globally. The competition comes with a $200,000 grand prize and the title of “America’s Drag Queen Superstar.”

‘”RuPaul’s Drag Race’ is unquestionably the largest platform for queer people on television,” says Stock, 28. “There is no other television show where you can see that many queer people in the same room. I was weeping on the phone and was so excited when I got the ‘Drag Race’ call but I also felt this was always supposed to happen. I sort of have had this narrative in my head of being the underdog, but I knew if I kept hustling and grinding someone would see it eventually.”



Stock’s drag trajectory can be traced back to being cast in the national tour of the Tony Award-winning musical “Kinky Boots” while a senior at Wright State. But before that opportunity arose, there was an underlying feeling drag would only be a secondary outlet, especially since auditions for “The Book of Mormon,” “A Chorus Line” and similar shows revealed a more traditional, post-collegiate path.

“All throughout college I considered myself a fan of drag, a spectator of drag,” Stock explains. “I thought drag would be something I would do on the side to fulfill myself. But there was something about the ‘Kinky Boots’ experience that made me feel alive. Some friends of mine also said when they saw me in a normal dance audition I was good, but when they saw me audition in heels for shows like ‘Kinky Boots’ or ‘La Cage aux Folles’ I was like an unstoppable diva. So, I began to wonder if I was experiencing some sort of gender euphoria in (drag-related) work and started performing in drag in (New York’s) West Village in 2020.”

Drag inspirations

When Stock moved to Los Angeles during the coronavirus pandemic, there was ample time to evolve in the art of drag, tapping into the striking duality of comedy and diva that elevates the essence of Amanda’s energetic ferocity.

“People dress up in whatever way that makes them feel comfortable, and for me it’s the divine feminine,” Stock says. “Every single time I’m in drag — in every show, in every number, every time I was on ‘Drag Race’ and walked in front of the camera — there’s just this moment in which I take a breath and allow my body to be possessed by the spirit of sickening and slay. Honestly, I turn off something in my brain to allow something else to take over, which is why I often have very few first-hand memories of my drag performances.”

Credit: Vijat Mohindra

Credit: Vijat Mohindra

Stock didn’t start watching “Drag Race” until age 19 but it wasn’t long before dedicated fandom blossomed into full-blown obsession having been inspired by such queens as Willam, Bob the Drag Queen, Bianca Del Rio, Adore Delano, Latrice Royale, and Alyssa Edwards among others. MTV notably describes Amanda as “the ultimate mix of camp and comedy.”

“I knew I was going to be on ‘Drag Race’ before I started doing drag,” Stock says. “I’ve always considered myself a clown, so I knew these really funny comedy girls were the queens I wanted to model myself after.”

Lessons learned

Without the comfort of having a “drag family,” Stock, a New York-based wig stylist who has done wigs for “Drag Race” queens Kerri and Salsha Colby, Lizzo and Beyoncé's music video dancers, entered the competition confident nonetheless in important tips and pointers from close friends. However, nothing compared to the meaningful magnitude of advice received on the show.

“The environment of ‘Drag Race’ in which you are presenting your work to be critiqued by judges such as RuPaul and Michelle Visage —two of the highest authorities of drag — was a gift,” Stock says. “As an artist, when you receive feedback or critique you take it as an opportunity to grow. I went to college for musical theatre — not drag. At Wright State, I had professors giving me notes and adjustments, which I took, applied and moved on. Going into ‘Drag Race’ I was a little nervous to be critiqued but while I was in it, I realized the critiques were making me better. And I did receive my share of critiques on the main stage.”



In addition, Stock suggests the competition grew heated inside RuPaul’s Werk Room but assures a close-knit sisterhood took place in spite of catty battles.

“I didn’t get along with everybody, but I did get along with a lot of people very well,” Stock says. “I developed very close friendships I would say are sister friendships or mother friendships. Also, seeing the way the other girls did their drag was so transformative.”

As the season premiere approaches, Stock reiterates the joy of performing in drag.

“I’m gifting the audience an experience. I am in my fantasy and everyone else is merely along for the ride.”

Dayton, buckle up.

How to watch

What: “RuPaul’s Drag Race”

When: 8 p.m. Fridays beginning Jan. 5

Where: MTV

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