Well, hello there
A determined and hard-working creative, Sharon has already found success in her young years as an Actor, Presenter, Writer, Podcaster and Lawyer by combining her innate talents with sheer perseverance. After years of auditioning, Sharon seamlessly made the transition from working as a successful litigation lawyer to her breakout role of Dipi Rebecchi in Australia’s longest running and iconic television show, Neighbours (you can watch here). Lack of diversity on screen providing for lack of opportunity to audition resulted in this achievement taking far longer than Sharon could have hoped or imagined and provided for minimal “ups” and many excruciating “lows” along the way.
Breaking barriers as the first Indian Punjabi in a mainstream television role, Sharon has continued working as a primary cast member into her fourth year excelling in every story arc thrown at her, with the most challenging being that of the show’s biggest storyline of 2020 being “affair” with another character, during the peak of Covid-19 pandemic, providing unforeseen challenges in the lack of touch and intimacy. In addition to this adversity, Sharon’s versatility as an actor, being able to play the lead protagonist, tortured individual, sex-symbol love interest, maternal and nurturing wife, loveable woman-next-door, strong and fierce business owner and moral compass, empathetic best-friend, and fascinating angry/hurt human all within the same role showcase her ability and talent, cementing her as one of the shows most celebrated and polarizing characters.
Prior to Neighbours, Sharon appeared in a number of other roles which you can check out here and was flown to India to audition for one of the country’s biggest directors, Mahesh Bhatt, after being selected from a nationwide search for Bollywood actors, progressing through numerous rounds of skill-based tests as documented by SBS. She has perfected the art of “multi-tasking” without compromising either craft, sacrificing her leisure time to achieve her milestones. Whilst studying her double degree in Commerce and Law at the University of Adelaide at the tender age of 17, she trained at a number of acting schools and continued this training aon nights and weekends once she started working as a full-time lawyer upon moving to Melbourne. She utilized her annual leave to shoot guest roles and TVC’s whilst working and only left the law profession when she got the full-time main cast role of Dipi.
In addition to acting on Neighbours, Sharon was selected by the producers to be attached to/shadowing a current rotating director of the show. Further to this, and whilst working on Neighbours, Sharon continues writing and podcasting on her time-off utilising her platform to speak up on behalf of minorities and the vulnerable, and sharing stories of impacting society positively as an activist on various issues. She most recently embarked on Season 2 of her podcast “The Real Ones” after her 10 episodic first season gained significant traction and country-wide media coverage as a result of her unique ability to delve into complex and deep subjects with her highly sought after guests using her warmth, intellect and skills as an authentic story finder and teller. You can check out the Podcast here and subscribe, follow, review, and listen/download on Apple Podcasts or Spotify at your leisure.
She has also most recently written a full-page article for “Stellar”, discussing the uncomfortable, yet important issue of racism within and outside of the entertainment industry. Sharon continues to be a flag-bearer and minority in championing the cause of diversity on screen and has spoken on various panels and within many consulting groups and round-tables in this regard. She prides herself in making positive change and difference wherever she goes.
Sharon’s diverse background is not purely race related. When she was born, her parents, being immigrants from India, lived in a caravan in a small rural country town in South Australia with the population of approximately 1000 people and not so much as a spoon to their name. Through sheer hard work they were able to purchase a small home and create a life for their children, and continued progressing beyond all expectations. There were no other people like the Johal family in the region and despite the isolation and hardship, Sharon had a zest for life and unexplained courage like no other. At the age of 5, she declared to her parents, “I don’t want to be normal, I want to be extraordinary!” and put on performative shows for her neighbours without her parents permission whom were often dumbfounded as to the origin of Sharon’s ambitions.
Sharon’s parents were conservative and strict and wanted their children to learn the value of hard work. She, along with her two siblings were required to work on the family farms, often cutting apricots through the Summer on 40 degree days in her parent’s tin shed and cultivated and picked grapes during harvest season too. Sharon remembers many great times growing up - she loved dancing, singing and being active outdoors on the Murray River but she also recalls not feeling like she “fit in” anywhere, whether it be within the Indian community, or the “Australian” one. Her parents also felt misplaced and yearned for their children to be connected to their culture, so much so that when Sharon was 15 years old, her parents enrolled her and her siblings into a school at the foothills of the Himalayas in India for them to learn about it. This was an extremely challenging time for Sharon but looking back, a defining one. Upon the children’s return to Australia, Sharon’s parents placed significant pressure/ultimatums on her to become a doctor, dentist or lawyer. She picked law because it was the closest to acting.
Sharon has a natural affinity for fashion, and you can check out her Instagram at @sharonjohal here to see her explore and experiment with her style, attend high profile fashion events/weeks and discuss her take on it. She models for brands that align with her values and interests and is currently the face of the Mossimo 2020 campaign, you can read more about this and other work on her Media page here.
Sharon’s goal is to eventually create work and art with impact by way of storytelling as an actor, writing scripts for, but not limited to, the under-represented and minority, directing under the gaze of her unique background, and producing/creating interesting stories/work that have not been told or experienced before. Whilst her diverse background has proffered challenges and lack of opportunity for Sharon, it also sets her apart with layers of complex experience to draw upon as a trailblazer in her field and beyond. Her drive and passion to “make things better” both on a professional and humanitarian level is a truly rare asset to any and every project she is involved in. She is certainly “one to watch”.