From complying with norms to drag queen star via Tik Tok: Ellis Lloyd Jones on Catrin Feelins

For many, the relationship between social media and young people is all too often a negative one.

However, for one drag act from Wales, performing in front of people would not have been possible had it not been for TikTok.

Ellis Lloyd Jones, who performs as Catrin Feelins, said the social media network gave him the confidence to take what he had already been doing at home and perform it to an audience.

Catrin Feelins now has more than 200,000 followers on the platform, and is quickly becoming a household name on the drag scene in Cardiff.

Having been born and brought up in Treorchy in the Rhondda Valley, Ellis says life in the Valleys felt a world away from the drag scenes that have long existed in cities such as Cardiff and Swansea. 

‘I just had to try and fit in’

Ellis always felt different to many of his peers as a child

Speaking to ITV Cymru Wales’ Welsh Lives programme, Ellis said:

“There was always that bit of me that used to like presenting as feminine. When I went to comprehensive school, people were pointing out that what I was doing is ‘not what the rest of us do’.

“[They’d] play football and rugby when [I was] there with the girls playing cafe or something like that. 

“I think that’s when I started to realise I have to comply with what everyone else is doing and just to try to fit in.”

Ellis performs as Catrin Feelins on TikTok and and on the drag circuit

Despite the constant feeling of having to work to fit in, Ellis knew he was different to the other boys in his school and came out as gay in his mid teens. 

“Loads of people in school didn't know what being gay meant," he continued.

“I never really knew that I was presenting myself like a stereotype of gay. I was always camp and that was always something with me."

As he battled to forge his own identity, he developed an interest in drag at home after watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race.

Since coming out of lockdown, Ellis' alter ego Catrin Feelins has gone from strength to strength, gaining followers both online and in person.

It is now his ambition to establish himself on the drag scene in Wales and beyond, but as he does, he is regularly reminded of how tough getting to this point has been.

Despite often feeling he couldn’t be himself, his family were integral to him finally realising the could.

‘Be who you want to be’

Ellis' mum said there was a moment where his life could have gone one of two ways

Reflecting on Ellis’ childhood, his mum, Andrea, told ITV Cymru Wales: “He was a very talented little boy from the moment he could walk and talk, always putting on little shows during the six weeks holidays in the summertime.

“I think it came to a point where it could have gone two ways, the way where we wouldn’t have Ellis or the path he took.

“I think it came down to his Dad chatting to him. His dad’s a big rugby player and is well known in Treorchy.

“He said to Ellis, look you be who you want to be, we love you for whatever you want to be. 

“I’d like to think that was something that clicked in Ellis’s mind to think [his] dad will accept him for who he wants to be.

“He said ‘I need to tell you who I am’ and both me and his dad turned around and said ‘we know Ells, we’ve known for a long time’.”

Ellis’ friends and family have now seen him perform live in Cardiff and as well as continuing to develop his act, he also hopes his journey can serve as an example to others. 

“I’ve always wanted to be that person who I didn't get to be growing up,” he continued.

“I’m hoping there’s a young Ellis out there who’s seeing me like this now and being like ‘wow I can do that and I can feel comfortable doing that because people out there like people that do that’.”

Watch the new series of Welsh Lives on ITV Cymru Wales at 7pm on Friday, September 23.