Erika Norell: Our First Mz Out South Florida

  • This is a part of our Mz OutSFL Pageant profiles

Erika Norell. Photo by Jay Nino.

Erika Norell is a performing institution. She's marking a milestone this year – celebrating 30 years of performing, and South Florida audiences are the better for it.

Norell has walked away with a crown title more than 30 times (she stopped counting at 30), including Miss Florida and Miss Continental, but that didn't stop her from being shocked and overcome with excitement when she was recently crowned Miss OutSFL at its inaugural pageant last month. The final scores were close during the fierce competition from some of the region's most talented performers.

"I was surprised," she confesses. "There were a lot of good competitors on that stage."

Norell admits to loving winning, but not as much as the stress, pressure, and madness of getting ready. She says she loves "everything that happens during a pageant."

"Erika Norell will be a great representative for our community," says fellow legend Melissa St. John. "She will continue to bring her grace, style, and compassion to elevate what a winner should embrace."

Norell's life is a testament to her unwavering dedication. She sees it as a competition, a driving force that has fueled her longevity as an entertainer. "It keeps you on your toes," she shares. "It opens up new doors and keeps you relevant because you keep innovating, trying to do new things after 30 years; that's what you have to do." Her commitment to constant growth and innovation is truly inspiring.

Norell makes time to reflect on her remarkable career so far. She watched a show with the legendary Celia Cruz, was served wine by the iconic Cyndi Lauper, and rubbed elbows with the incomparable RuPaul. The Miami native was lucky enough to eavesdrop on the Miami Sound Machine before they made it big when Norell was just a youngster because her grandmother lived next door to one of the band members. “Gloria Estefan loves that story,” she says, a testament to the respect and admiration she has earned from her peers.

Norell, who is also an incredible fashion designer, once designed a dress for Janet Jackson to wear to the BET Awards. "She made the worst-dressed list, but that's okay," Norell remembers. “But everyone who wears avant-garde clothing always does."

Wilton Drive regulars know Norell from Alibi Monkey Bar, The Manor Complex, and the Pub on the Drive. Her performances are fan favorites. She is a fan of Pink, Christina Aguilera, and DuaLipa.

When Norell is not performing, she's also busy shaping the future of drag. Her mentorship has been instrumental in the success of many performers. "My mother is a truly remarkable woman and entertainer," says Taina Norell, one of Norell’s many drag daughters. "She is incredibly talented at what she does. I am very fortunate to have her as my drag mother. Her influence and guidance are invaluable to the community.”

Many of Norell's other daughters have appeared on “RuPaul's Drag Race.” "I feel like I've been on it without actually being on it," she says.

Auditioning for “RuPaul's Drag Race” could be the next chapter in Norell's illustrious career. "It's a great opportunity for drag queens," she explains. "If you know how to use it as an opportunity. You can jump-start your career or even take your career to another level, even if you don't win." The prospect of seeing Norell on the show is undeniably thrilling for all of her friends and fans.

You can follow her on Instagram at theerikanorell_.

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