The positive impact of becoming Nina West

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — When Andrew Levitt is on stage, you notice him but when he appears as Nina West, you can’t miss him.

“I’m 6’3″ so when you put on heels, you’re a big woman,” said Andrew. “When I put on heels, I’m probably like 6’6″, 6’7″, 6’8″ depending on the size of the heel.”

How he got in those heels is an interesting journey. After graduating from Denison, Andrew planned to pursue an acting career in New York but after 9/11 that all changed. It was then that his friend Chris, A.K.A Virginia West made a suggestion.

“He looked at me and said you should do drag. I said, you’re crazy. I have no desire to do drag,” said Levitt. “When he was speaking about it to me, he really boiled it down to it’s just like theater. You are creating a character you are creating a story”.

Over the next 12 years, his career took off. But in all of those years he never told his parents.

“For some reason, I had some shame about the drag and I held it with me and I carried it with me,” Levitt said. “I just got to a point where I didn’t want to lie anymore. I wanted to be as upfront and open as possible and all of these incredible things were happening to me because of my career in drag. And because of my art, they weren’t experiencing it and they weren’t sharing in it and I was not being fair to them.”

Now Andrew’s parents share in his career and celebrating his achievements through the Nina West fund at the Columbus Foundation. His impact is being felt through a range of charities. He raised money to send an LGBT family on a Disney cruise through Make-A-Wish, surprise another family at the Ronald McDonald House with a trip to Disney World and help make a $60,000 fitting room renovation possible at Dress For Success.

Andrew was recently awarded an equality award from the Columbus chapter of the Human Rights Campaign and the Create Columbus Commission Visionary Award from Columbus City Council.

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