We had the good fortune of connecting with Mason (Dollya Black) Hartenstein and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Mason (Dollya Black), how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
At the beginning of my journey with drag, I exerted myself both physically and mentally to a point that wasn’t healthy or manageable. I was fueled by eagerness to make a name for myself. I was constantly pushing myself as a craftsman as well as a performer. I was a cosmetologist by day and a performer by night, often picking up last minute gigs and making new looks the night before. Oftentimes, my days off wouldn’t feel like days off. The constant going poured over into my journey throughout the Boulet Brothers Dragula Season 3. It wasn’t until after filming for television that I realized I needed more balance. I spent so much time focusing on what was best for Dollya—and in turn, sourcing so much confidence from her—that Mason became neglected. I knew, for my mental health, I needed a change. Now, I spend more time exploring my spiritual interests and taking care of my plant babies. I light a candle daily, have a meditative moment, and thank the Universe for my blessings. I go to the gym more often(-ish), and I quit vaping and drinking. I’ve learned to say no and prioritize days off as much as workdays. I view balance as an opportunity to enjoy life and to prioritize the things you love and make you happy.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?

My drag character is named Dollya Black, inspired by the renown dismemberment of Black Dahlia, but that’s just the beginning. I have always been inspired by the ethereal and fantastical as well. As a child, my heart would long to be in a fantasy world in books like LotR, Percy Jackson, and Eragon. Creating Dollya allowed me to combine 3 of my favorite things—glamour, fantasy, and horror—into a character that could exist in a world like those.  It’s made the journey so much more rewarding to draw inspiration from the things I love, and I’ve learned so much over the 6 years I’ve been in drag, but the most important thing I’ve learned is to be sensitive to what others are going through. Working in night life and being on a televised series means meeting a lot of people, so it is so important to be open and understanding to others. I hope at all times that I can share with the community the inspiration to be yourself and have a kind heart.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?

If you visited me here in Orlando, we could spend the day downtown! I would take you to Avalon, a metaphysical supply store on Hillcrest. It is one of my favorite places and has some of the kindest employees who are all so knowledgeable. Then, we would go to Drunken Monkey for coffee and take a walk around Lake Eola. Depending on what night it is, we would go Southern Nights Orlando to watch a drag show and then get tater tots and corn dogs from the District Dogs truck outside!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?

I wouldn’t be where I am with my drag if it weren’t for the encouragement and education I received from entertainers like MrMs Adrian, Axel Andrews, and Anya Knees. I am forever grateful to them. I’m grateful for the love and support from my close friends and family. Oh, and my partner, Waka Shame. They’re cool, too.

Instagram: dollya.black

Twitter: @dollyablack

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