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| BNE September/October 2016




March/Ap il 2016


essica Mauboy is a hot ticket right now. Following the first

season success of the television series

The Secret Daughter


in which she starred, her soundtrack album

Songs from the

Original Series – The Secret Daughter

debuted at number one in the ARIA

album charts, a first for an Indigenous artist and she is soon to start a

national tour.

The 27-year-old all-round talent hasn’t put a foot wrong since wowing

the nation in

Australian Idol

a decade ago. Mauboy was the first artist

from outside Europe to sing as a guest at Eurovision; she has performed

at black-tie events for Obama and Oprah, toured with Beyoncé,

partnered in the studio with renowned rappers Snoop Dogg and Flo

Rida, and launched a signature fragrance.

Now she’s collecting accolades for her performance in the series that

was written especially for her, the first Indigenous lead actor in a scripted

drama on commercial television. Channel Seven came knocking on

Mauboy’s door with the story idea for

The Secret Daughter

following her

stand-out performance as one of The Sapphires in the film of the same

name, a true story about an Indigenous girl group in the 1960s that

shipped off to Vietnam to entertain the troops.


The Secret Daughter

Mauboy plays Billie Carter, a part-time country

pub singer whose chance meeting with a rich hotelier raises questions

about her past and triggers a series of events that changes Billie’s life.

Naturally, the series is loaded with great songs that Mauboy’s character

sings in the show and a second series is set to air later this year.

Mauboy is immensely proud of her work in

The Secret Daughter


the role she has played in helping to propel Indigenous faces to the

forefront of popular culture. She put in long hours at the recording

studio too. It was important to her that the album was about Billie,

not Jessica. “I just had to go into the studio and sing the songs as Billie

Carter would. The little imperfections are really what make this album

so interesting and honest – music the way she would have recorded it.

Billie’s had to struggle and live off fruit picking, working in a bakery and

as a back-up singer in a pub band. She’s a strong young woman. She’s

always helping everyone else. I like how respectful she is to every person

who comes into her life.”

Mauboy says there are similarities between the character’s journey and

her own. “Billie’s journey mirrors mine in some ways, in terms of breaking

into the music industry and our shared backgrounds. Don’t get me wrong,

a lot of the story is character-driven, but I went into my own experiences

to allow that expression to evolve,” she says. However, Mauboy found

herself admiring her character’s particular sense of strength.

“In life I’m not a tough cookie like Billie. She’s rough around the

edges, but she’s okay with that and doesn’t care what people think – I

like that. Coming into the entertainment industries you can get really

caught up in what people think about you, and I love that she has an

independent spirit and self-determination of sorts.”

Mauboy has Indonesian and Aboriginal heritage, her mother Therese is

an Indigenous Australian from the Kuku Yalanji people of the rainforest

regions of Far North Queensland, and she has four sisters. She grew up

in Darwin in the Northern Territory singing in the church choir and

She’s won our hearts as we’ve

watched her grow from reality

show runner-up to star on stage

and screen, writes

Chris Herden