Santino Quinto Rice was born in St. Charles, MO to multiracial parents. After high school, Rice earned a scholarship from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles. Moving so close to the Hollywood film industry exposed the budding designer to various job opportunities, including acting, voiceover work and costume design. While attending FIDM, Rice worked as an assistant to the artist and designer Tony Duquette, who inspired him to pursue his dream of becoming a fashion designer. In 2005, Rice participated in season two of the hit reality competition series "Project Runway." The show picked a group of fashion designers each season to compete in various challenges in which they had to create innovative, functional and marketable clothes. "Project Runway" featured supermodel host Heidi Klum and fashion guru Tim Gunn as the contestants' mentor, along with designer Michael Kors and magazine editor Nina Garcia as the judges. Rice stood out during his season, not only for his wildly creative fashions, but also for his over-the-top and sometimes abrasive personality. Viewers also could not get enough of Rice's hilarious impersonations of Gunn on the show. Declared one of the show's most polarizing contestants, Rice nevertheless sewed his way to the top three during his season and was able to show a collection during New York Fashion Week. Rice finished in third place behind fellow designers Chloe Dao and Daniel Vosovic.Even though Rice did not win his season, he almost did not need to. His name became so synonymous with "Project Runway" that it helped him land appearances on some of the show's spin-offs. He faced off with other season favorites such as Vosovic, Chris March and Korto Momolu on the "Project Runway: All-Star Challenge" (Lifetime, 2009), which gave the designers a second shot at winning the competition. In 2010, Rice teamed up with "Project Runway" Season One contestant Austin Scarlett on Lifetime's "On the Road with Austin & Santino." The series followed the two designers as they traveled to various small towns across America to create a custom dress for a female participant with a special occasion coming up. Rice and Scarlett's opposing personalities made for good television, while their designs nevertheless put a smile on each of their lucky clients' faces. Years after his work was judged on a reality show, Rice landed a spot on the judges' panel on another reality competition series, "RuPaul's Drag Race." The show featured a group of drag queens who must create outlandish and colorful get-ups each week while participating in challenges - from exotic photo shoots, to filming music videos. Recording artist RuPaul Charles hosted the show and mentored the contestants, while Rice and other celebrity judges critiqued their work.
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