Family members confirmed DeVayne’s death on Instagram, but did not disclose the cause. The news came days after the performer, known offstage as Zavion Davenport, was reportedly hospitalized with pneumonia. She was previously treated in July for suspected kidney failure.
“I am so grateful that we got to experience her kind and beautiful soul,” the statement continued. “May her generous and loving spirit shine down on us all.”
Davenport was born in Shreveport in 1985 and grew up studying classical dance. As Chi Chi DeVayne, the performer rose to national prominence on Season 8 of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” in 2016, returning two years later for “RuPaul’s Drag Race: All-Stars.” Earlier this year, she appeared on the Apple TV+ series “Little America.”
She spoke of her interest in branching out into a variety of artistic mediums in a 2016 interview with HuffPost, saying she ultimately wanted to be known as “a damn good performer that came from nowhere and took the world by storm.”
“I think people are becoming more receptive to the alternative styles of drag,” she said. “It’s just showing people that it doesn’t matter — drag is drag and your talent is what’s going to carry you through.”
DeVayne is the second “Drag Race” contestant to have died since the show’s 2009 inception. Sahara Davenport, who appeared on the show’s second season, died in 2012 at age 27.