How Jane Fonda inspired RuPaul’s career

Jane Fonda has had a tumultuous career. Some may know Fonda for her acclaimed film appearances; others may be more attuned to the actor’s extensive activism. And you can’t forget the star’s iconic workout videos from the ’80s. All of her achievements aside, Fonda is no stranger to the pressures of aging in Hollywood. Fonda recently revealed her feelings about plastic surgery to Vogue: “I had a facelift and stopped because I don’t want to look distorted. I’m not proud that I had it [one].”

But the honest Fonda also had some wisdom in store. She told the outlet: “Well, for one thing, I want young people to stop being afraid of getting older. What matters is not the age, this chronological number is not. What matters is your health.” With all of Fonda’s achievements, why should Do you live on your age?

As a testament to her rich career, the acclaimed actress has scooped a slew of accolades, including an Oscar for her role in the ’70s thriller Klute, in which she played a call girl suddenly faced with a perplexing missing person case . But another of Fonda’s performances touched on a certain celebrity and gave him the impetus to move forward in his own career. This celebrity is none other than RuPaul’s Drag Race host RuPaul.

Jane Fonda’s film “Barbarella” inspired RuPaul

In 2018, People honored RuPaul with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. During an appearance on The Ellen Show, RuPaul told Ellen DeGeneres, “I feel like I’m being knighted. It’s the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to me.” He then excitedly revealed that Jane Fonda would be the presenter. Coincidentally or not, Fonda had a huge impact on the drag queen’s life. He continued, “About 50 years ago this week, ‘Barbarella’ popped up on the cover of Life magazine in my home mailbox and my career path was decided at that moment. I wanted to be Barbarella.”

Fonda played the title role in the ’60s sci-fi film Barbarella, a galactic adventure in which the actor is dressed in lavish metallic outfits. The film’s elaborate set and costume design carries a legacy with many young women cosplaying as Barbarella. So it’s no surprise that the fabulous RuPaul is drawn to Fonda’s glamorous theater and unparalleled confidence on screen. In fact, a clip from RuPaul’s Drag Race threw a reference to the film. A GIF via the show’s Twitter account featured two drag queens in Barbarella-esque ensembles. The caption said, “Bodacious Barbarella Babes!” inspiration, much?

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Jane Fonda met RuPaul on the set of Grace and Frankie

For Jane Fonda and RuPaul, the admiration is mutual. When Fonda RuPaul introduced his Hollywood star in a video for Variety, she said the star “should be at least three sizes up.” Fonda proudly explained, “Because I don’t think anyone on the Walk of Fame has ever started an industry like RuPaul. He created an industry that gave hundreds and hundreds of jobs and dreams to so many.” She then talked about meeting him on the set of the Netflix TV show Grace and Frankie, where RuPaul made a cameo. He also casually interviewed the show’s stars Fonda and Lily Tomlin for Netflix. Fonda gushed, “What I found is that behind the glamour, behind the drag queen, there is a man of great depth, incredible intelligence and compassion.”

During an appearance on Watch What Happens Live in 2019, a viewer called and asked RuPaul about his experience working on Grace and Frankie. RuPaul stated that he was absolutely thrilled to be working with Tomlin and Fonda. He continued, “There wasn’t any diva stuff. You assert yourself. These are ladies – 50+ years in the business – I don’t know how long they’ve been stars and still show up for work every day. I should be so lucky.” Speaking of luck, it sounds like Fonda played a big part in making RuPaul’s dreams of stardom and Barbarella’s ferocity come true.