Who is Drag Race Down Under judge Rhys Nicholson?

The Aussie comic isn’t well known to British audiences


Drag Race Down Under is finally here, and Aussie comedian Rhys Nicholson is along for the ride! After the franchise has been branching out globally with spin offs in the UK, Canada, Thailand and more, drag fans prayers for Australia and New Zealand to get their own version of the competition show have finally been answered.

Season one is now well underway, and luckily for British viewers, BBC have picked up the show on iPlayer so we can watch it easily over here. We’re only three episodes in and have already seen celebrity guest spots from Taika Waititi, Troye Sivan and… wait for it: KYLIE AND DANNII MINOGUE.

Alongside RuPaul and Michelle Visage, Rhys Nicholson fills the coveted Carson Kressley/Ross Matthews/Alan Carr/Graham Norton slot of regular weekly judge. Nicholson is well known to audiences down under, but isn’t a very well known name elsewhere.

The Aussie comic is already proving a hit with viewers, but just who is Rhys Nicholson and what’s he best known for?

Where’s Rhys Nicholson from?

Rhys is originally from a small town in New South Wales, then moved to Sydney in 2009 to pursue a career in comedy.

What’s his career been like in Australia?

He didn’t see much success till around 2012 – when Rhys won the Time Out award for Best Newcomer at the Sydney Comedy Festival. After that big win, he began touring his live solo comedy shows round the world, including stints at London’s SOHO theatre and a run at the Edinburgh Fringe.

As well as this, he’s guest starred on several shows down under, including Balls of Steel Australia and Houses VS Authority.

Has he done much LGBTQ+ work before Drag Race Down Under?

Yes! In 2014, Rhys Nicholson and fellow gay Aussie comic Joel Creasey starred in an ABC documentary called GayCrashers, which had the two going to a small town to do a stand up routine after Joel had been the victim of a homophobic attack there.

In 2016, Rhys married fellow queer comic Zoe Coombs Marr in a public ceremony at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, where the two were trying to highlight the importance of marriage equality in Australia.  Same sex marriage was then legalised the following year.

Who’s he dating?

Rhys lives with his fiancé Kyran Wheatley. Wheatley is best known for being a former radio presenter on Triple J.

How come Ru picked Rhys for Drag Race Down Under?

Rhys Nicholson, Drag Race Down Under

Along with all his LGBTQ+ activism in his career, Rhys has said when he was 18 he wanted to be a drag queen before taking the stand up comic direction he’s found success in. He’s also a devoted drag superfan, calling this judging role his “dream gig”.

When asked why he chose Rhys over other more prominent Aussie comics, RuPaul said “his quick wit, love of drag, and willingness to carry Michelle Visage’s heavy luggage have already made him indispensable.”

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