Best friends Matthea Nava and Tea Elani have always dreamed of getting dressed up and going to a ball together, and they finally had the opportunity this month for a performance inspired by the Netflix period drama “Bridgerton.”
In the show, the queen chooses a “diamond” — the most charming, beautiful bachelorette — at the first ball of each dating “season.”
Being chosen as the diamond is a high honor, and it makes the chosen lady more coveted by the season’s bachelors.
“Bridgerton” fans can now experience the selection of the diamond themselves through an immersive performance called “The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience,” which is traveling to four cities through June. The performance was created by Shondaland, Netflix and the events company Fever.
At a recent show in Los Angeles, Nava was chosen as the season’s diamond, and Elani caught the moment in a now-viral TikTok video.
“It was like the best thing ever,” said Nava, who uses she and they pronouns. “I’m literally getting emotional now remembering it. I’ve never been so validated with a moment, with a stage of actors.”
Nava, 24, attended the ball as a birthday gift from Elani, her best friend of four years, whom she met during a college production of the musical “Hair.” (The two love “Bridgerton” so much that they made a music video inspired by it.)
Nava said that during the Los Angeles performance this month, the queen surveyed the room, looking for a diamond. Two actors on the dance floor with the queen portrayed British nobles, and Nava thought the queen would choose one of them.
“At one point, the queen is looking around, because she’s not quite sure that she wants to choose an actress, and she’s looking around, she’s looking around, and then she points to me,” Nava said. “And that’s when all the magic happens.”
Elani’s TikTok video, which had more than 7 million views late Tuesday afternoon, shows Nava taking the hands of the two actors and approaching the queen. Elani yells in support of Nava and says excitedly, “That’s my best friend!”
Nava bows, and the queen motions for her to take the stage. She curtsies gracefully, and then sparkly confetti falls from the chandelier.
“And in that moment, oh, I knew I had to give them the twirl,” Nava recalled. She twirls, and the crowd cheers.
The video had more than 17,000 comments Tuesday. “The twirl is giving princess diaries and I’m obsessed,” one person said, referring to the 2001 Disney movie. Another said: “Amazing… now I’m in tears. Beautiful to see queer representation.”
Nava said the response on TikTok has been “beyond anything I could have expected.”
“It made me feel the most special, because late life just hasn’t made me feel that,” she said.
As a transfeminine person, she said, she is threatened “all the time.” She is also trying to start her career as an actor, but she said productions have repeatedly been canceled because of Covid-19. She’s a clothing designer and a seamstress on the side — skills she taught herself by watching YouTube videos. She designed her de ella and Elani’s dresses for the ball.
“I always say that I have to create my own magic in this world, and this world is very evil and corrupted,” she said. “And so in the moments that you can’t find it, you have to make it for yourself, and unfortunately I’ve always had to do that.”
Elani said she wasn’t surprised that Nava was chosen, because “I always saw Matthea as a diamond, as a princess.”
“It wasn’t surprising to me, but it was when the glitter fell that I really started to get a little emotional, because I watched her journey with her gender and sexuality these last couple of years,” Elani said. “So just to see that moment and just to see that smile on her face, that really just meant the world to me.”
Some of the commenters applauded Nava’s poise and confidence, and for that, Nava credited words of encouragement from her late grandmother, “the matriarch of our family,” who was the first person to validate her gender.
“She said, ‘Take a deep breath and just have courage,’” Nava said, saying her grandmother spoke only Italian. “I always have tried to carry myself with the poise and elegance that I always saw her exude from her. And that, honestly, is, for me, my coping mechanism to try to think clearly: I take a deep breath, I stand with my shoulders back, and I try to stay as poised as possible and go forward. You’ve got to have courage. You’ve got to do it.”
She had similar advice for younger LGBTQ people. She encouraged them to “ignore everybody” and to “paint” and “change” their lives in the ways they want to.
“What I think is so beautiful, if you identify as queer, you can honestly paint your life,” she said. “And I say that because when you are queer, there is a fundamental something that unlocks, that tells us that we can discover ourselves a bit more than most people in society can.”
Nava said that since the video was shared on social media, she has received messages from people who want her to make dresses for them. “And I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, yes,’” Nava said. “Let me be everybody’s fairy godmother.”
She said she would also love the opportunity to bring more queer representation to “Bridgerton.” One person commented on the TikTok video, “The only queer storyline Bridgerton will give us,” with a laughing emoji.
“All I’m going to say is that I am right here, and I am available for seasons three and four, and I would love to be the queer representation,” Nava said, laughing. She added that she loves everything Shonda Rhimes writes and “wouldn’t be surprised” if she makes a queer love story the main storyline of a future season. “But who knows her?” she said. “I’m available, so call me.”
Elani said that, now that she and Nava have achieved their dream of going to a ball, they hope to go the Met Gala in the future. She said their experience at “The Queen’s Ball” showed her that they are meant to be friends and “meant to manifest this together, and the universe kind of just pulled us together.”
“It just helps solidify that friendship even more,” she said.
Performances of “The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience” can be booked in Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, DC, and Montreal.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism