Queer as Folk boss never imagined making series without Chi Chi DeVayne
Queer as Folk: Official trailer
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TV personality Zavion Michael Davenport, better known as drag queen Chi Chi DeVayne, was originally set to star as Bussey Horewood in Peacock’s brand new interpretation Queer as Folk. Sadly, Chi Chi died at the age of 34 before getting the chance to perform in the series. Now the US drama has become available on StarzPlay in the UK, showrunner Stephen Dunn has spoken exclusively to Express.co.uk about his experience working with the drag star.
Stephen revealed he always had Chi Chi in mind for the role of Bussey until she died before the start of filming.
The popular RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant died at the age of 34, shortly after announcing she had been hospitalised with pneumonia.
She would have formed a key part of Queer as Folk’s main cast and was part of the reason the showrunner decided to set the Peacock drama in New Orleans.
“Chi Chi DeVayne was a very, very close friend of mine who is from Louisiana,” Stephen recalled.
“I spent a lot of time there with her, and I wrote one of the roles for her, Bussey.
“But, of course, she passed away recently, in the last year and a half.”
Chi Chi received a dedication in the series and was fondly remembered by her family, friends and fans upon her death in 2020.
Stephen was still able to go ahead with his new interpretation of Queer as Folk, which began life with Russell T Davies’ original Channel 4 series in 1999.
However, it still proved challenging to develop a character who had been specifically written with another actor in mind.
Stephen admitted: “So, that was a difficult pivot to be able to move on with the show and not make it with her.
“It’s something I never imagined having to do. But, thankfully, Armand Fields came into our lives and just brought so much heart, so much love and strength and beauty to that role.
“It really, honestly, was a saving grace for me working with Armand.”
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Bussey was ultimately portrayed by actor Armand, known for their roles in Work in Progress and The Chi.
They are the reigning drag queen of the series’ New Orleans LGBTQ+ community, who is thrown off-balance by a tragic shooting at the Babylon nightclub.
After her death in 2020, Chi Chi’s family released a statement reading: “It is with tremendous sorrow that my family and I announce the passing of my beloved son, Zavion Michael Davenport, the world-renowned Chi Chi Devayne.
“His final words to his family and fans, ‘Never give up!’”
And presenter RuPaul said: “I am heartbroken to learn of the passing of Chi Chi DeVayne.
“I am so grateful that we got to experience her kind and beautiful soul.
“She will be dearly missed, but never forgotten. May her generous and loving spirit shine down on us all.”
Queer as Folk is available to stream on Peacock in the USA and StarzPlay in the UK.
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