AUSTRALIA fell in love with Jess Mauboy when she was just 16. Rising to fame on Australian Idol, after her talents were initially recognised through the Telstra Road to Tamworth competition, Mauboy has gone from strength to strength.
She counts herself lucky to have never been pressured into conforming to the pop mould, or changing her look to sell more records. It's a dilemma that her character Billie Carter will face in season two of The Secret Daughter.
Finally landing a meeting at a record company, Billie's 'audition' is a whirlwind of singing, video tests and a photo shoot.
"Playing that moment and seeing her stretched and deformed in this plastic photo, it was crazy. I couldn't imagine me experiencing that,” Mauboy tells The Guide.
"I was very, very lucky that I knew exactly what direction I wanted from the beginning. Coming off the show (Idol), I was able to write my first record and it sounded the way I wanted it to sound. I was never forced at any point to do what I didn't want to do.
"Leaving home is probably the closest thing I've experienced to that, departing my family and leaving a bit of culture. In my heart I had those things and that took me a long way.”
Mauboy's TV acting debut in The Secret Daughter was a smash hit for Seven last year. The drama's accompanying soundtrack went platinum and recently earned Mauboy four ARIA Awards nominations.
Season two features a new batch of covers and original songs, from the already released Fallin' to Paul Kelly's Dumb Things.
"The impact of last year's season and the record really shocked me,” Mauboy says.
"I'm extremely proud since I put a lot of time and effort into not only creating the story but spending time and creating the whole record around this show.
"Considering we're telling an Australian story, I really wanted to capture that in the song choices.
"From Paul Kelly to Neil Finn, Crowded House and Thirsty Merc, these are songs that have made a dent in this country. It's nice to vocalise them and capture a female point of view and give that to the character.”
In season two, Billie meets her mother's sister - only to have it confirmed she is Jack Norton's daughter, launching her back into the centre of the family she just fled. Billie returns to Sydney, with Gus in tow, determined to start over with the Nortons.
"The success of season one definitely made it a lot easier and clearer on the direction of where we needed to go (in season two),” Mauboy says.
"There's a sense of Billie knowing herself in this season, and walking with her head up high a lot more. She's bringing these different personalities and values together, and writing that into the script meant a lot to me. I needed these characters to be as real as possible and really come together at the end.”
The Secret Daughter - Seven - Tuesday at 8.35pm
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