It’s been an exciting few months for Toronto drag queen Tynomi Banks. On top of a role in Cloris Leachman’s last film and appearing in a Super Bowl commercial, she dropped her Black Lives Matter-themed clothing line earlier this February.
Designed by Toronto artist Sydney Mia Gittens, the collection includes a series of T-shirts and a hoodie donning BLM-adjacent phrases like “Protect Queer Black Youth” and “Anti-Racist.” Proceeds from the collection will be donated to Black Lives Matter Canada for the entirety of Black History Month.
Tynomi says the hoodie is the piece of merch that stands out the most to her, considering the many attacks against Black people that have occurred based on them wearing a hoodie.
The repetitive phrases on her merch are meant to normalize the message she is trying to get across. “I put songs on repeat to learn them, so these terms I wanted on repeat and just normalized. It makes it more powerful that way.”
In a WealthSimple commercial on Super Bowl Sunday, Banks was shown dressed as Medusa counting the snakes on her head as dependants for her taxes. By appearing in the ad, she made history as the second drag queen to ever perform in a Super Bowl commercial, the first being RuPaul.
“When I saw that, I couldn’t even deal… this was a huger thing than I was prepared for,” says Banks. “When you set a goal for yourself and then surpass it, you’re just like, ‘Oh my gosh, I have to sit down and re-write my goals for the year.’”
Banks’ year is far from over—the digital release of Jump, Darling is coming up on March 9. In the film, Banks plays Jacqueline O’Nasty, who she describes as the “top mother” of the bar that runs the drag competitions in the film.
Jump, Darling was Cloris Leachman’s final role before her passing in January. At the film’s drive-in premiere, Leachman said that Tynomi was “robbed” and should have won Canada’s Drag Race, where she won “Miss Congeniality” and placed ninth.
“I was dying, I was screaming. The whole parking lot was beeping. I just wanted to meet her, and I couldn’t, and then she said that, and I literally lost my mind. It was so funny,” recalls Banks.
Banks performed on the same stage as Beyoncé and RuPaul during World Pride in Toronto in 2016. She says that the diverse culture of Toronto has inspired the way she performs, and that it’s also helped her dive into her own Jamaican roots in her performances.
“It throws them a little bit of me, an open door into my life. I like Canadians for that, because we’re very open and want to share love and we’re very accepting.”
Tynomi Banks’ Black Lives Matter merch can be purchased on her website.