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Valentina is the stage name of James Leyva, a drag performer from Los Angeles, California. She competed on the ninth season of RuPaul's Drag Race. She finished in seventh place and was controversially voted Miss Congeniality by fans.


"Hello, it's me, Valentina!" *winks*

RuPaul's Drag Race

Season 9

Season Competed: Season 9
Ranking: 7th (Miss Congeniality)
Mini-Challenges Won: 1 (Ep. 8)
Times as Team Captain: 0
Main Challenges Won: 1 (Ep. 2)
Times in Bottom Two: 1 (Ep. 9)
Episode Eliminated: Episode 9

RuPaul's Drag Race Twitter congratulating Valentina for being Ms.Congeniality.

Episode One, "Oh. My. Gaga!"

In this episode, the queens were challenged to make a look inspired by their hometown and remake their favorite Lady Gaga look. Valentina received positive critiques from the judges for her runway outfits. For the hometown look, she did a mariachi-themed outfit, representing Los Angeles. For the Gaga outfit, she chose Gaga's CFDA Awards 2011 dress and was praised for her runway walk, which Gaga herself said brought a tear to her eye. Ross Matthews said her hometown look was his favorite look. Valentina did not win, but was deemed safe by the judges.

Episode Two, "She Done Already Done Brought it On"

In this episode, the queens had to learn choreography for a cheer routine. Valentina was picked last for the cheer-leading teams due to her being relatively new to drag and ended up on Cynthia Lee Fontaine's team. She was praised both for her performance in the challenge and for her bridal-inspired runway look, and was declared the winner of the challenge.

Valetina´s bridal-inspired runway look.

Episode Three, "Draggily Ever After" In this episode, the queens had to create their own fairy-tale princess and sidekick. Valentina chose to do an ice/winter theme for her Princess look, with a fairy as her sidekick. The judges praised her look and were surprised by her comedy. Valentina placed high in this challenge, but did not win.

Episode Four, "Good Morning Bitches" In this episode, the queens were challenged to create their own morning show. Valentina was on Aja's team and was also paired with Aja during the enter"taint"ment skit. She was on the winning team for this challenge, and was therefore declared safe.

Episode Nine, "Your Pilot's On Fire" In this episode, the main challenge was to create their own TV show pilot. Valentina and Nina Bo'nina Brown were paired together, and struggled with filming their TV pilot as they had not prepared a script and had to improvise. Although Valentina received some positive comments on her runway outfit, she and Nina were criticized for their lack of planning and organization, which ultimately landed them both in the bottom two. Valentina initially attempted to 'lip-sync' with her runway mask covering her mouth, but RuPaul made her remove it, and it was revealed she could not remember the lyrics to the song, and she was eliminated.


Shocking Elimination

Much like Trixie Mattel and BenDeLaCreme, Valentina's elimination was a shock to most viewers, as she was considered to be one of the stronger contestants of Season 9. Many of her fans sent hate and death threats to Nina Bo'nina Brown and Alexis Michelle, the other two low-placing contestants in that episode, and both of them had to temporarily disable their comment sections on social media as a result.

Miss Congeniality or Fan Favorite?

During the reunion, several of the other queens (including Aja and Farrah Moan) objected to Valentina winning the Miss Congeniality vote. They argued that the Miss Congeniality prize is more of a popularity contest, and that Valentina should be crowned fan favorite instead as she was not seen to be the most congenial queen by her peers, largely because she did not speak out about the hate her fans sent to other queens following her elimination.

Following the controversy at the reunion, Valentina posted a video on her Instagram page suggesting her fans leave rose emojis in her fellow Season 9 queens' comment sections "to show them that we're not all hateful." This led to many of her followers flooding many queens' social media with red rose emojis. While some queens responded positively to this as a nice gesture, many others saw it as an annoyance and spam, with some asking fans to stop.

Memorable Quotes

  • "I'm glad these girls see me as a threat."
  • "I was literally shaking, but I said to myself: Valentina, when in doubt, smile!"
  • "I'm Valentina, I'm also Corny!"
  • "I'm not gonna say nothing to that.." To Aja after her rant in Untucked
  • "I lied you ugly stripper!"
  • "Hey!"
  • "I'd like to keep it on, please." - When asked by RuPaul to remove her mask for the lip-sync
  • "Farrah Moan, just shut up already." to Farrah Moan
  • "Deodorant, Bitch!"
  • "In my country, we're known for beautiful women, and I think, also... COCAÍNA." -As Ariadna Gutierrez in the Snatch Game.


  • Valentina was the first queen revealed for Season 9, being interviewed by Michelle Visage during a Facebook live-stream.
  • The name 'Valentina' comes from the Mexican hot sauce brand.
  • She claimed to have only been performing professionally in clubs for 10 months at the time of filming for Season 9, and was accepted on her first time auditioning for the show.
  • She revealed she was struggling with an eating disorder on the fifth episode of Season 9.
  • Valentina won the 2015 club version of the Boulet Brothers' DRAGULA.
  • Valentina considers the Virgin of Guadalupe, an apparition of the Virgin Mary that occurred in Mexico during colonial times, her drag mother. 
  • Valentina and Nina Bo'Nina Brown are the only queens so far to be stopped by RuPaul during a lip-sync.
  • Valentina is the first queen to participate in a lip-sync with her mouth covered.
  • Like Farrah Moan and Nina Bo'nina Brown, Valentina's elimination was leaked online prior to the episode airing.
  • Valentina and Season 5 contestant Ivy Winters are tied for the second-lowest Miss Congeniality placement, as both came 7th on their respective seasons. Cynthia Lee Fontaine is the lowest-placing Miss Congeniality, coming in 10th on Season 8.
  • Valentina's lip sync against Nina Bo'Nina Brown was ranked number 1 in MsMojo's "Top 10 Moments From RuPaul's Drag Race Season 9".
  • RuPaul has said that Valentina's lip sync is one of his top 3 shocking moments on Drag Race. The other 2 being Roxxxy Andrews' abandonment story and Ongina's announcement of her HIV status.
  • Valentina was asked to return for RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars (Season 3) along with Aja after Trinity Taylor and Shea Couleé declined.
  • Valentina is one of only two Miss Congeniality winners to have only competed on only one season (including All Stars), with the other being Ivy Winters.


Start a Discussion Discussions about Valentina

  • Season 9 Reunion

    15 messages
    • She can be. She has wrapped up people playing musical instruments before and called it art. She also had this art exhibit before that was just...
    • best of luck to ya
  • Miss Congeniality (Season 9)

    13 messages
    • I have to be the outsider here and say Kimora Blac deserves that title. I know that she has low chance to win it, but she was such a sweet he...
    • Sweetheart on the show or outside of it?