Female Impersonator Overcame Stroke And Came Back To The Stage

By Carolyn LaRue
For gaycentraltexas.com

International drag sensation Lawanda Jackson could have given up in 2014 when she suffered what might have been a debilitating stroke … but she says God’s grace and a “positive state of mind” led to her remarkable recovery.
This week, the legendary female impersonator will be at Connect Nightclub, 2812 N. 19th Street, in Waco entertaining fans along with former Miss Gay Texas America Onyx Anderson, and local favorites Reva Dena, Shanda LaVera and Camilla.

Legendary Lawanda Jackson performs as Tina Turner

The show follows a hugely successful weekend at the club where it hosted the Miss Gay Texas State Pageant, packing the house for the state’s premiere pageant for female impersonators that benefits charities.
Lawanda Jackson was born in 1961 in Portland, Oregon, and currently resides in Amarillo where she moved after her stroke.
According to Gayly Magazine, Lawanda won the Rosebud pageant for LGBTQ youth in 1978 and has gone on to win more than 30 other titles including the Miss Gay USofA title in 2012.
She first became interested in female impersonation by attending black drag house parties with her gay uncle. That was a time when it was illegal for men to dress as a woman in public so private parties was the main route for entertainers to perform.
Not everyone in her family approved. While Lawanda’s dad and grandmother were supportive, her mom didn’t like Lawanda’s choice of a career, until Lawanda received a performing arts scholarship to the African-American dance school of Alvin Ailey.
And her grandmother gave her the best advice for standing up for what you know is right. “Do not let people disrespect you, not even your mother, because they will always step on you if you do not stand up for yourself,” LaWanda told Gayly Magazine.
Since those early years Lawanda has been booked around the world, been on numerous television shows and portrayed a Tina Turner impersonator in the movie Miss Congeniality 2 with Sandra Bullock.
As for the stroke? Well initially it paralyzed the left side of her face, arm and leg. Doctors said she would probably never walk again or talk again. Today, thanks to the help of friends around the world and in the USofA pageant system, Lawanda is back on stage entertaining countless fans – including those in Central Texas.
All it took, she has said in interviews, is a positive state of mind to recover and get back on stage.
“All I could do is fight, and push forward,” Lawanda said. “I did not want to become a victim. I pushed through by God’s grace.”
NOTE: Lawanda Jackson is known for numerous impersonations including Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and Tina Turner. She will be performing along with former Miss Gay Texas America Onyx Anderson, Reva Dena, Shanda LaVera and Camilla.

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