The winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK has said frankly that he was so naive about his personal finances when he first left home that he did not realize he had to pay city taxes or utility bills.
James Lee Williams, 28, the Liverpool drag artist best known as The Vivienne, won the competition’s first series, which aired in 2019.
But before he won the show and became an international drag sensation, James was in his early twenties struggling after years of debt.
In a conversation with Femail, James explained that he had first left Wales when he was 16, but that he had not appreciated the responsibilities of living alone.
“I just wasn’t aware at all that I had to pay my city tax and my phone bill and pay everything I had to pay regularly, like electricity and gas, things like that,” he said.
“I didn’t know you could go to jail if you don’t pay the city tax or if people come knocking on your door for some money.”
It got to the point where James had the bailiff knock on his door.
James Lee Williams, 28, left, the Liverpool drag artist best known as The Vivienne, won the first series of the competition, which aired in 2019. But before he won the show and became an international drag sensation, James was a young 20-year-old. something that struggled after years of debt. In the photo, with his husband David
James, known commonly as The Vivienne, said he had no idea he had to pay his bills when he first moved from Wales to Liverpool at the age of 16. Pictured after winning the final of Rupaul’s Drag Race UK in 2019, posing took off in a beautiful blue ensemble
“Worst day ever I was in bed and there was a knock on the door and there was a debt collection agency and it was the council tax and that’s probably the worst it got,” he said. “It was the biggest wake-up call ever, the worst time.”
James, who now lives in a house he rents and hopes to buy with his husband David, is now using his experience to help others as the face of Experian’s new ‘Money Positive’ campaign.
The campaign encourages healthier, open discussions about money and gives people the tools and support to pursue their financial goals.
James’s money troubles started when he first moved to Liverpool at the age of 16 and was himself faced with renting and paying for utilities.
“I was such a mess a few years ago when I first moved from Wales to Liverpool,” he said.
‘I left school without knowing what’s going on in my future or how to deal with things like how to pay bills.
James without drag. The artist said he wanted to encourage people to be more money positive and have an honest conversation about money
Shown in drag. James is now improving his credit and eventually wants to buy his house
“When I saw what they asked per calendar month,” Oh, I can pay £ 400, but then you don’t actually realize there’s city tax and electricity, water … anything else that’s on top of it, like Wi-Fi or a phone. “
James couldn’t pay his bills and ignored the problem instead of fixing it.
“ I buried my head under the sand a little bit, brushed it aside and just didn’t realize it would have such a negative effect on things in the future when it came to things like phone contracts and mortgages and things like that, ” he said .
What is the Money Positive Campaign?
The Vivienne has partnered with Experian on their ‘Money Positive’ campaign, which encourages people to have healthier, open discussions about money and gives them tools to support their financial goals.
Based on her own experience with money struggles, The Vivienne encourages people to take the same approach to their bank account and credit score as their own body and take control of their financial health.
For starters, you can check your credit score on Experian for free and try to increase your score with Experian Boost.
After getting himself into debt, James found himself in the fortunate position to ask his family for help.
He said, ‘I had to call my father, ask for help. Fortunately, I was in a position to have a wonderful family around me. I got help from my father and then I had to pay him back. ‘
The drag artist urged others who might be in a similar position to seek help.
“It’s just not a nice place to be in your own home if you’re scared, don’t worry about that,” he said.
“Even if you’ve got yourself into a lot of debt, there are ways to get out of it, to make sure you don’t think about it all the time.”
However, James is still haunted by the effects of his actions and is still trying to build his credit years later.
He said, ‘I’m in a position now that I’m renting this house that I’ve been in for about three years now, I love the house, I really want to buy it and I really need to make sure I’m in a good financial situation now to do that. ‘
As a drag artist, James’ earnings have been hit by the coronavirus pandemic, forcing him to cut back on his expenses.
“I earned so well after Drag Race, but then suddenly we are not allowed to go on tour anymore, which is my main source of income,” he continued.
‘You really have to cut back, like you can’t buy a new Louis Vuitton bag every three months if you want.
“The bottom line is, here’s the bill, the rent, the rest and I’m trying to save as much as possible for the future, because my main goal is to buy the house.”