Prizm News / January 24, 2019 / By Bob Vitale
By Bob Vitale
In a 2017
Columbus Alive readers’ poll, she finished just behind Jack Hanna and alongside Buckeyes legend Archie Griffin in the category of Best Face of Columbus.
America is about to get to know Nina West. And if they love her as much as she’s loved in Columbus, she’s a shoo-in to win
Season 11 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
• SHE’S IN! READ PRIZM’S COVERAGE OF THE RPDR CAST ‘RuVEAL’ •
Nina has hosted HighBall Halloween, the two-night outdoor street party, since it began in 2007. She has been part of AIDS Walk Ohio for the last eight years. She estimated in a 2018 Columbus Dispatch profile that she has raised more than $2 million for various causes—most of them LGBTQ-related—over her career.
She’s a fixture in Columbus, in our community and beyond. Here’s a look at her career.
(Click on photos for full version.)
Nina West wore a dress with the design of Ohio’s state flag at her Spring 2013 show at Axis. (Photo by Bob Vitale) Nina’s national breakthrough came in 2008 when she won Entertainer of the Year. (From YouTube video) It inspired this costume by Sia in 2016. (Photo from Outlook Ohio, June 2016) Nina’s creator, Andrew Levitt, earned a theater degree from Denison University in Granville. In addition to performing as NIna, he’ll play Ursula in a Pleasure Guild production of “The Little Mermaid” (Feb. 22-24 at the Palace Theatre) to benefit Nationwide Children’s Hospital. (Photo courtesy of the Pleasure Guild) Charity is a big part of Nina’s work. She has been part of AIDS Walk Ohio for the last eight years. (Photo by Equitas Health) 2015 AIDS Walk Ohio. (Photo by Equitas Health) As part of the 2016 event, she interviewed celebrity host Alan Cumming. (Photo by Equitas Health) 2016 AIDS Walk Ohio. (Photo by Equitas Health) With Ted Allen at AIDS Walk Ohio in 2015. (Photo by Ray LaVoie for Equitas Health) Last year, Nina hosted a show to benefit Equitas Health programs as part of AIDS Walk Ohio. (Photo by Equitas Health) 2018 AIDS Walk Ohio. (Photo by Equitas Health) 2018 AIDS Walk Ohio. (Photo by Equitas Health) The benefit show, Physical Exam, took place at Axis, where Nina regularly performs. (Photo by Equitas Health) Nina was honored at center court in The Q when the Cleveland Cavaliers hosted their first-ever Pride Night in March 2018. The Cavs donated a portion of each ticket sold to Nina’s charity fun. “It was surreal and amazing and the icing on the cake was LeBron wearing a rainbow shoe,” Nina told Prizm. “I mean, that is insane.” (Photo courtesy of Nina West)_ Cleveland Cavaliers Pride Night, 2018. (Photo Nina West, designers Que Jones and Aaron James, and HighBall producer/coordinator Melanie Kortyka were on the cover of the first issue of Prizm in October 2017. (Photo by Staley Munroe) In our story about HighBall Halloween in October 2017, Nina said she loved hosting the annual street party because it’s such a queer-positive event. (Photo by Staley Munroe) Prizm Creative Director Staley Munroe shot this image of Nina in a 2018 photo shoot. (Photo by Staley Munroe) Nina and her drag mother, Virginia West, at a recent Axis show. “I love you so much and cannot wait to watch America fall in love with you!” Virginia posted. (Photo from Nina West’s Facebook page) Nina and Shangela, one of RPDR’s most popular alums, at Axis in March 2018. (Photo from Nina West’s Facebook page) Nina makes her entrance on “RuVealed,” a web special that introduced 15 Season 11 contestants for “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” (Photo from VH1’s “RuVealed”) Nina chats with Adam Rippon, who told her she was the performer at the first gay bar he ever visited. (Photo from VH1’s “RuVealed”) Nina’s promo shot for Season 11 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” (Photo courtesy of RPDR) “I’m really thrilled that I get to represent Columbus, Ohio, my hometown, and the West family, my drag family,” Nina said. (Photo courtesy of RPDR)