Legendary’s Dashaun Wesley On The Shade, Competition, And Community Of The HBO Max Series

DaShaun Wesley in Legendary
(Image credit: John Johnson/HBO Max)

Since its inception, HBO Max has been the home for a number of high-profile projects surrounding LGBTQ+ talent. The reality competition series Legendary is in that category, focusing on ballroom culture and the vast creative and dancing abilities of its community. Season 3 recently ended, and Legendary host Dashaun Wesley recently spoke to CinemaBlend about the shade, the competition, and the community of the HBO Max series.

Season 3 of Legendary ended June 9th, just in time for Pride month. To celebrate Pride and the show’s success, I had the privilege of speaking with the Ballroom Icon himself, Dashaun Wesley. We did a deep dive on Legendary’s life over the past three seasons, and what it’s really like on that high stakes floor. I started asking Wesley about how it feels to have the Ballroom culture celebrated through the competition show, saying:

I would say it’s a time for us in my community to be celebrated. We celebrate each other so much for so many years, and people are watching and have their eyes on us. It’s kind of exciting to know how people are so receptive to our community. They’re showing the love that we’ve kinda been hoping they would from us being as authentic as possible. So it’s exciting to see everyone getting riled up and excited to see more houses walk out.

In a time where representation is such an important topic, Legendary features a stellar cast of contestants which includes queer folks, people of color, and trans excellence. The ballroom community has been alive and thriving since the 1970’s, helping to shape pop culture from the shadows. But Legendary puts the Houses on display, and lets both icons and newcomers from the voguing world have their time in the spotlight.

Legendary debuted back in May of 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, the show barely managed to wrap Season 1 before sets were shut down around the world, with the finale (and Season 2) being filmed noticeably without an audience. But Dashaun Wesley seems to think the timing of Legendary’s release on HBO Max might have helped more eyes land on the competition series. As he put it,

The good thing about this occurrence is after shooting the first season we were able to catch everyone while they were home. So we were able to get people at a perfect time when no one’s occupied doing stuff.

Indeed, Legendary’s first season hit when folks were still spending a lot of time self-isolating at home. It’s for this reason that the show has such a special place in some audience’s hearts, myself included; it provided a place of joy and comfort when the world needed it.

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows on Legendary, as the stakes are high and the tension can sometimes boil over. Both the judges and the contestants have had thrilling spats on camera, all of which Dashaun Wesley has been able to observe as the show’s Master of Ceremonies. I asked about what it’s like being in the room when shade is thrown over the action on the floor. He told me,

Oh baby, front row seats. I get to see everything. When I see things getting too out of control I’ll bring it back and let you know it. There’s nothing more fun than seeing people who have the gift of gab sharing that kind of experience. I can say one thing about our community: when it comes to the ballroom community, we communicate with each other. And reading is one of those things that we tend to do. And I think it’s really fun when you’re around people that you can enjoy and tell how you feel and be open and honest about it and kiki. And everyone understands where you’re coming from. It becomes a good old boxing match.

The reads can be severe in Legendary, thanks to the authentic and hilarious critiques from judges like Law Roach and the Icon Leiomy Maldonado. And while there’s been some wild confrontations throughout the three-season run, there’s still a sense of love within the community. Dashaun affirmed that, telling me:

There’s still love and there’s still communication, making sure the right words are being said. It’s still like a family at the dinner table on Thanksgiving.

He’s not wrong. Recently in Season 3 Law Roach and Keke Palmer had words, but were able to appreciate being read by the other. As Dashaun Wesley points out, that’s simply a form of communication within the Ballroom community, including on the set of Legendary

In addition to being the MC and providing much-needed work on the mic during Legendary’s redemption battles, Dashaun Wesley has been able to show off his own Ballroom skills during a few choice performances during the show’s run. As a reminder, you can check out one such performance below,

But Dashaun and Leiomy didn’t duet in Season 3 of Legendary, much to my own disappointment. As such, I asked Wesley if we’re going to see his spins and dips in a future season. He responded, saying:

I’ll tell you this: you never know how we’re feeling. When we’re feeling the moment and the mood, we’ll pop up with a performance. So the chances are you may see another one.

Honestly, sign me up. Of course HBO Max will first have to renew Legendary for Season 4 before we might get this opportunity. Hopefully this happens sooner rather than later, as an announcement would be a great end to Pride month. 

Dashaun Wesley has such a unique place in Legendary, as he’s the MC without having to issue critiques or scores as a judge. Since he’s such an icon in the community, he knows countless contestants and houses that have graced the stage. I asked about what it was like to see people he loves competition on the show, with Dashaun explaining:

It’s so weird because I get to see my family and friends, from this perspective, get the opportunity to go on stage and perform. Whether it's good or bad they have my support. I’ll always throw some good feedback at the end that they can kind of go back and cook with every time they perform.

Hopefully this is a process that will continue if/when Legendary gets a fourth season on HBO Max. Dashaun’s energy truly buoys the series, with an endless supply of puns that accompany each of his segues between performances. Not to mention the looks he’s turned in Seasons 1-3.

Legendary is currently streaming in its entirety on HBO Max. Be sure to check out our midseason premiere list to plan your next binge watch. 

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.