Sheldon Riley is Australia’s rising star. The 19 year old from the Gold Coast has been making waves since his debut on The Voice in 2018 and is now stepping out as the Ambassador for Oxtravaganza, the street party and community event for the Mardi Gras Festival. We caught up with Sheldon in the lead up to the event to get the lowdown on what Mardi Gras means to him and what his dreams are for young LGBTIQ performers.
EastSide : What does Mardi Gras mean to you? Have you been involved before?
Sheldon Riley : Mardi Gras means the world to me! “I knew about it when I was a kid but my family didn't really acknowledge it…it was my secret pleasure, and this year is the first year that I’m going to be involved. I am going to be celebrating coming out as myself!”
ES : Since finishing The Voice in 2018, you have been working non-stop and it sounds like you have some big plans in the works (still under wraps). What has been your biggest win so far? And whats the biggest lesson you have learned?
SR : “For me personally, the biggest win was being accepted into the LGBTIQ+ community. I initially thought that I would walk in dressed this way and people would be angry at me, like I looked too much like a stereotype… but I have totally been embraced as the alter ego of so many LGBT people!”
“And my biggest lesson has been to see the amount of work this entails and the huge amount of behind the scenes effort for what can be just a one minute performance”
ES: Whats happening for you in 2019 and is the world ready for Sheldon Riley?
SR: “The world better be ready for Sheldon!!… for 2019 I want to reveal more of myself. I may shock people, but I am definitely going to be bringing something bigger than ever! There’s an element of surprise from Sheldon Riley this coming year."
ES: Oxtravaganza is a way of bringing the Darlinghurst and Surry Hills community and their businesses together, there are some amazing things in the works on the day. Models and drag queens on the street, naked barbers and rainbow cakes to name a few, what are you most looking forward to?
SR: I am excited to see people who don't do this every day dress up have fun and live Mardi Gras their way…people becoming their alter-selves and celebrate who they are at Mardi Gras. Throw away those work shirts and get the glitter and nipple tassels happening!”
ES: Oxtravaganza supports the youth charity Twenty10. What do you think about the work the Twenty10 does? Have you had experience with this kind of community/service?
SR : “Seriously Twenty10 is one of the most important organisations that there can be. I’ve been there and carried a burden - the same one that kids live with every day. Just to know that there’s someone who takes time out to say ‘Hey I’m here’, its amazing.”
“I have used helplines before, I felt like i didn't belong. And I know there’s nothing more powerful than knowing that someone is out there fighting the same battles that your are.”