This year, Channel Ten gave us ‘I Will Survive’, a reality tv show with the “ultimate nationwide search for a triple-threat superstar,”
While poor ratings and a change in schedule didn’t play in the shows favor the same can’t be said for the 29-year-old entertainer who won the competition. Melbourne’s Mike Snell won $250,000, a 12-month contract with ICM management in New York plus a four-week stay there. He’s danced with Kylie, performed with Hugh Jackman in the Boy from Oz and is currently performing as The UPS Guy in Legally Blonde – Click here to see what our SameSame reviewer thought of the show.
Snell spoke to SameSame about his win; how the show has changed him, performing in heels and more.
Congratulations on winning ‘I Will Survive’ , how does it feel to finally be able to tell your Legally Blonde cast mates that you won?
It’s so good, everyone’s been grilling me and I couldn’t say anything. I’ve got one of those faces where everyone knows what I’m thinking so I reckon everyone knew. Then last night it was out of the bag and they made an announcement at the end of the show (Legally Blonde) and everyone was happy for me, it was really nice.
What was your favourite challenge during the competition?
Doing a screen test with Rachel Griffiths. I was really on that show because I wanted to develop more of my acting side. I was trying to push myself because I come from a dancing background. I wanted to really work on my acting and it what an opportunity, to work with Rachel Griffiths in a screen test!
How was it performing so many different challenges?
I struggled a bit because I thought when I auditioned that it was going to be music theatre, and then every week we were standing behind a microphone giving rock style solos. So I felt that I was under the radar because I never really got to do my thing until the grand final when I put my full show together. That’s what I wanted to do more of, to showcase this guy who can get out on stage and give an emotive story rather than just stand behind a microphone. I feel like I finally got to come to life in that last performance. I was so proud of what I pulled together in 24 hours. It was crazy. (See a clip of his winning performance here.)
How were your feet after spending all that time performing in heels?
It was constantly working against the elements and the costumes, but in saying that I must say I rocked the pair of heels! Learning how to dance in those costumes made every single drag challenge a new obstacle in a short amount of time. I thought I’d just give it everything and have fun with this.
I’m now so much more prepared to just take a chance and do it. It’s not just your normal reality show about having one song to sing and having a week to prepare in the studio. We were out on the road with no luxury studios singing in outback churches and dinner halls and we did an amazing job. People were expecting Idol or X-Factor quality and we were just in the middle of the desert. It was raw and wild.
Was there any point you thought that you weren’t going to make it?
No. Every day when I woke up I said to myself, I am making it to New York. When I got through to the bottom two I said it straight to the camera ‘I’m sorry, I did not get this far to go home one stop before New York’. In the finale I thought Tom was going to take this, I used to call him ‘can’t do no wrong Tom’. Just the singing aspect was where I was struggling because I wanted to do it all, the singing, dancing and acting; that’s the real deal – that’s the triple threat.
I wasn’t there to be a recording artist or to get solos, I knew I just needed to hang in there and get to New York because then I’d get my moment to shine. I just thought, ‘I’m going to be that leading man I want to be’ and while that may have come across too serious some times, I want to be able to lead a cast of people into a successful season. A leading man should make a positive work environment so I was always trying to be positive about everything, even when tired.
What’s your dream role to perform?
Scott in Strictly Ballroom, which Baz Lurhmann’s bringing to Australia. I’m doing everything in my power to secure that for myself – dance classes, acting lessons and singing. This competition has inspired me to work even harder now, it isn’t about sitting back and letting the phone ring. I am working my butt off so I hope they see that and my hard work pays off.
What would you say to anyone out there wanting to be an aspiring performer?
I especially want to inspire boys to follow their dreams. I know it sounds cliché but I’m a walking example of that guy who has no family members who are performers, I went to a state school, which wasn’t very arty, and I just went for it.
I want young people out there to know that you can forge a career out of musical theatre and performing and don’t give a shit what the bullies say, just go for it and see what happens!
You can see Mike in Legally Blonde at the Lyric Theatre, The Star, Sydney.