Reality TV

Home and Away star ”went in blind” to Survivor

''I was naive.''
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For Sharni Vinson, the hardest thing about competing on Australian Survivor: Heroes V Villains was the crabs.

”I had a couple crawl over my face in the night,” she tells TV WEEK.

”I’m arachnophobic, I’m not crabophobic, but these things were huge. I woke up once with a giant crab in my shorts and I was like, ‘This is unacceptable! Keep your distance! No! No!”’

As for everything else about camp life in Samoa, Sharni, 39, says she just adapted to it.

”I thought it might be horrible not being able to wash your hair or shower, but it’s not so bad,” she says.

Sharni says she was very naive going into the Survivor experience.

(IMAGE: Ten)

It’s been 15 years since Sharni starred in an Australian TV show – and although there were far fewer crabs, it was a challenging experience in its own way.

As Home And Away’s Cassie Turner, Sharni tackled some intense storylines, including discovering she was HIV-positive while pregnant.

”I would come home from that storyline with headaches and feeling physically sick from having to cry all day, because I really put my body through it,” she recalls.

”But I still get messages from people today, who thank me for the story and for Cassie being so strong and who say how it’s helped them in their life.”

As a former swimming champion, the star was prepared for the physical challenges.

(IMAGE: Ten)

Two days after finishing up on Home And Away, Sharni flew to Los Angeles, where she made a name for herself in movies such as Step Up 3D and You’re Next.

She says the past six years have been “consumed” with starring in – and being executive producer of – the Netflix series The Guardians Of Justice.

”It was a lot of time and a lot of energy,” she adds, ”so when that show wrapped, I thought, ‘OK, it’s a good time to come back to Australia and replant my roots here and take a break from America.”’

Since being back in Australia, Sharni has started dating a fellow Aussie called Aidan, who she met in Queensland, where she’s currently living.

”We’ve been together six months, so it’s still very new,” she says.

”We both love travel and adventure. It’s really good.”

Sharni as Cassie in H&A, who contracted HIV from her partner (Damien de Montemas, pictured).

(IMAGE: Seven)

It was Sharni’s love of adventure that made her say yes when Survivor came calling.

Having been a member of the state swim squad for most of her childhood and done a lot of stunt work in movies, she was well prepared physically. But she chose not to watch previous seasons of Australian Survivor, meaning she didn’t recognise any of the returning players.

”I was naïve as all hell,” she laughs.

”I just wanted to live in the moment.”

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