Rhys Nicholson On The Evolution Of RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under As Season Three Begins

The highly anticipated third season of 'RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under' has finally graced our screens, bringing with it a fresh batch of talented queens ready to sashay, shantay, and werk their way to the top.

Rhys Nicholson - Stan

To delve into the behind-the-scenes details of this historic season of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race Down Under’, we caught up with one of the fabulous judges, the delightful Rhys Nicholson. Rhys spills the tea on their third run as a judge, the guest judges, the queens, and what fans can expect from the latest 'Down Under' extravaganza.

After two years of filming through lockdowns, 'Drag Race Down Under' has officially announced a huge cast of guest judges for the upcoming season. "It feels genuinely nice because we have a lot of guest judges this year, and it means that I've almost taken it as my role to kind of welcome them, you know, cause they sit next to me and we're kind of down the end together, and I get to kind of show them the ropes," Rhys shares about being invited back for their third season on the iconic show.

Rhys has certainly become an integral part of the 'Drag Race Down Under' family. Having now participated in three seasons, they reflect on how this experience has changed them and how they finally feel like they've cemented their role on the show.

"I feel like I was welcomed in very quickly [to season one]. Like, you know, it is a family, and they did welcome me.” Now, Rhys feels less like being just welcomed to the family, and more now a permanent part of the team. “I officially have now lasted longer than some other judges, and I've got a legacy now. I’ve lasted longer than Merle Ginsberg!"

“I've just always been waiting for me to turn up to work one day and either Joel Creasey or Nath Valvo is sitting in my chair,” they laugh.

As 'Drag Race Down Under' enters its third season, it continues to evolve and capture the hearts of viewers around the world. Rhys discusses the show's evolution, explaining, "I think what I am quite excited about people to see with this season is that there's not too many queens coming in this season with a lot of, like, what I would call baggage. . . There's a couple of babies in there this year. There's a couple of queens that have been doing it for a long time, but kind of stayed within their home cities. And I think that's really exciting because it makes it less about relying on drama."

The show's focus on introducing fresh talent has been a hallmark of the 'Down Under' franchise, and Rhys applauds this aspect. "I think that's a good thing to get more of that talent out there, and they're so interesting. . . I'm so happy that 'Drag Race' has this thing where it can discover talent that just isn't around. Everywhere, there's so many different kinds of drag queens, and there's so many different pockets of talent in Australia."

The first episode of any 'Drag Race' season is always highly anticipated, and season three of 'Drag Race Down Under' was no exception.

Rhys shares their thoughts on the bold choice of a big musical number for the opening challenge, commenting, "It's a great chance for them, I like to throw them a bit of a curveball first time around, it’s fun. It's a fun thing to do. A bit of a sink or swim. They do it on the US season as well, often the first episode is kind of a big full-on thing because you want that moment of shock as well.”

“It's like, we're in! It's a really fast way to get to know each and every queen as well, because you can kind of see how they react to stress, and that's what this show is to me. It's also about inspiration and love and hope and that kind of thing. But it's seeing artists put under a lot of pressure, and seeing what that does to them. I really love filming the first episode and and enjoy watching the first episode because it's like. . . Anything, anything can happen.”

So what does Rhys know about the guest judges and contestants before he takes to the runway each week? Surprisingly not a lot, and there’s good reason: “I do that kind of purposely like I don't want to go in there with any kind of expectation. That's kind of the point of the show when we're judging on the main stage, we're judging what we're seeing now or we're judging that particular challenge, we're not basing it on anything else. I never know what happened in the Werk Room until I watch the show. And that's kind of thrilling.”

While the buzz around guest judges for season three has been high, as always there’s much talk about the potential involvement with Aussie pop princess Kylie Minogue. In particular her latest hit 'Padam Padam'. . . Rhys reveals they've heard high expectations it will feature this season. Sadly they've got some bad news: “Spoiler alert. 'Padam Padam' is not in our show,” they laugh.

Thankfully the news isn’t for lack of love for Kylie – simply, timing. “I feel so sorry for everyone that thinks that 'Padam' is going to be on it, because we filmed this so long ago!”

With Rhys Nicholson's infectious enthusiasm, delightful humour, and genuine love for the art of drag, it's clear that 'RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under' season three will be a rollercoaster ride of laughter, surprises, and fierce competition.

'RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under' season three is now streaming on Stan, with new episodes every Friday. See Michael's full chat with Rhys Nicholson here.