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drag race

From Drag Race to Ireland's Got Talent... Michelle Visage on how she wound up on Irish screens

The US personality is one of the faces of TV3′s big spring show – but she’ll be no stranger to some radio listeners here.

TV3 Group Spring Launch 2018 Release-6 Michelle Visage alongside Ivan Yates and her fellow Ireland's Got Talent judge Denise Van Outen. Paul Sharp Paul Sharp

IRISH VIEWERS ARE going to be seeing a lot of Michelle Visage over the next few months. The US TV personality is part of the judging panel for Ireland’s Got Talent – the main Saturday night highlight of TV3′s spring schedule.

There were more than a few blank faces among reporters when Visage was announced as part of the line-up for the new show at the Ballymount broadcaster’s annual launch last August – but the news was met with joy and unbridled enthusiasm from some quarters of social media.

For the uninitiated, the former girl group member is best known for her role as a judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race, which sees contestants vie to become ”America’s next drag superstar”.

She has also commentated on the Eurovision for US audiences, and was part of Channel 5′s Celebrity Big Brother in 2015.

Keen-eared Irish radio listeners may also remember her for her appearances on 2fm in the late 90s, when she provided entertainment news for a weekday show hosted by Dusty Rhodes.

So how did she link up with the improbably-named Irish broadcaster?

“I was a morning radio presenter for 17 years and 2fm was looking for someone to do a gossip and entertainment review,” Visage told us at TV3′s spring launch earlier this week.

Our radio station was the number one in New York City at the time – so they called and said ‘Who does your morning stuff?’ And that’s how I got involved.

She visited Ireland several times over the next few years, and kept up the slot – appearing live in studio on some of her visits.

Years later, she became part of the hugely successful Drag Race through her close friendship with the reality show’s host.

I’ve known RuPaul since I was 17 years old – we kind of grew up in New York City in the same group.

2017 MTV Movie And TV Awards - Arrivals - Los Angeles Visage alongside RuPaul at the MTV Movie & TV Awards last year. UPI / PA Images UPI / PA Images / PA Images

Asked if she had honed any particular judging talents over her years on the show, Visage dead-panned that she had “always been really judgmental”.

On a more serious note, she said had made a particular effort to nurture young drag acts during the auditions for Ireland’s Got Talent.

“Sometimes they might just never get to be seen – and this is an opportunity for them.

I’ll judge them differently than I would on Drag Race because this is not a drag competition – so I’m not going to judge on drag, I’m going to judge on the act.

Joining Visage on the panel are Denise Van Outen, Jason Byrne and Louis Walsh, while it’s being helmed by TV3′s in-house presenter-of-everything Lucy Kennedy.

The winner of the talent show gets a cash prize of €50,000 and their own Christmas special on TV3.

The audition process for the Irish iteration of the hugely successful franchise has now wrapped.

Asked if she could recall how many times she had had to sit through the Nathan Carter favourite ‘Wagon Wheel’ during the auditions, Visage responded with a diplomatic “less than you’d think”.

The live shows will begin from Saturday 3 February.

Related: TV3 ‘Virgin’ rebrand confirmed at station’s spring schedule launch >

Read: Late Late Toy Show was the most-watched Irish programme in 2017 >

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