I Will Survive Contestant Tom Talks Road Trips

16 October 2012

For I Will Survive contestant, Tom Sharah, one of the most rewarding aspects of the television show was the opportunity to take a road trip through outback Australia.

"In the beginning all the guys were just thinking about the ultimate prize. But driving through regional Australia was such an amazing experience. We went through seven towns that I never thought I'd go to. But in each place we visited, I truly felt a sense of love and community - especially in the smaller towns," said Tom.

 Tom in Outback Australia

The Network 10 reality program follows in the footsteps of the hit Australian film Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, where drag queens take a road trip from Sydney to Alice Springs. However rather than just a journey of self discovery, on the reality television series - the winner lands a major contract and the chance to perform in the Broadway stage production.

Twelve contestants departed on the Priscilla bus from the famed Imperial Hotel in Sydney and along the way, the budding stars travelled through such towns as Dubbo, Cobar and Broken Hill.

For Tom, however, it was Hermannsburg that was the most inspiring destination.

"Hermannsburg in the Northern Territory was absolutely incredible. It came at a very hard hitting time in the competition. There are very few people living there. It's primarily an indigenous community - and some of the locals were quite shell shocked when we turned up in all the glitz and glamour. But everyone was so supportive and even the children wanted to be part of what we were doing. It was lovely to be part of it."

"We sang True Colours in Hermannsburg. The costuming was just stunning, as was the makeup and the wigs. I was in the bottom three that week with Rowan and Matt and all the stars aligned.  It was a beautiful experience. Singing that song in that location was incredibly moving."

While Hermannsburg was a positive experience, it wasn't completely smooth driving on the Priscilla bus.

"All of the towns were so accepting and loving of what we were bringing. But in Cobar, there was a small group that rallied against us being there. That was an interesting predicament. It was a different mentality with people not wanting us. I really enjoyed my time in Cobar but it was different. A very authentic experience," said Tom.

One of the most hilarious experiences for Tom during the recording of the show was when he was involuntarily entered into the Miss Alice Springs competition.

"I came second. But it was such an out of body experience. One of the activities we had to do was catch a chicken in a coop. I was dressed in a skin tight dress, corset, blond afro wig and platform heels. I ended up having to take off the heels so that I could catch that chicken. It was just hysterical."

Tom's first major break came when he won the Australian Cabaret Showcase. Always keen to continue to perfect his craft, Tom learnt on I Will Survive that the most powerful aspect of performing is finding a place of truth or honesty.

"We were constantly encouraged to just be ourselves. We were crossing serious boundaries, dressing up in drag, embracing the crazy - but that's what makes you an individual. You just need to embrace individuality."

Tom is currently writing a cabaret performance based on his experience from the show. This show will be his second solo outing, having previously toured Australia with his unique blend of music and banter in a production entitled, Que Sera Sharah.

"My new show will be called It's Raining Me. It opens in Slide on Oxford Street in Sydney will tour to Melbourne and Brisbane. I'll be singing material that I did on the show. I'm very excited about it."

When not working, Tom's favourite holiday destination is New York.

"I've been there a couple of times - in both summer and winter. It's hard not to be inspired by New York. I make a conscious effort to go back every couple of years; to reignite my passion."

 Tom in Drag with the local kids in Hermannsburg. Image courtesy of Network 10

Lyndon Barnett

Guided by curiosity and a sense of adventure, Lyndon travelled independently to 69 countries on six continents. As such, travel is Lyndon's only addiction. He enjoys with equal measure - scaling the peaks of a South American mountain at altitude, attending opera in a European Opera House or hunting for a bargain in an Asian market.