Jessica Mauboy On Staying Grounded, Long Distance Love And Being A Role Model

Hannah-Rose Yee
marie claire
Jessica Mauboy On Staying Grounded, Long Distance Love And Being A Role Model

Jessica Mauboy. Photo: David Gubert

Jessica Mauboy is fun. Lots of fun. Over the course of our interview the 25-year old singer – dressed in a navy blue and white Christopher Esber silk shirt and matching midi skirt – gave us a total of six (count ‘em!) hugs. She also blushes throughout the afternoon, blows kisses at our videographer and leads us in a singalong to one of her favourite songs: the Mariah Carey slow jam ‘Dreamlover’. “Anything for marie claire,” she laughs.

This is Mauboy’s moment. After years as Australia’s sweetheart – first, as the fresh-faced 16-year old belting out Whitney Houston in the middle of the Alice Springs desert for her Australian Idol audition, then later as a member of the Young Divas and as the star of the critically acclaimed film The Sapphires – 2015 is going to be the year that Mauboy really branches out. Along with a nationwide tour – toasting the success of her platinum album Beautiful and its hit singles ‘Never Be The Same’ and ‘Can I Get A Moment’ – Mauboy has an exciting, top-secret project launching in the new year focusing on one of her biggest passions: fashion. We sat down with our cover star to find out what makes the singer tick.

MC: How important has music been in your life?
JM: Music has guided me, music allowed me to be honest, be true and accept my body and my mind. Being in the music industry has taught me not to change for anyone, and be confident that you can look the way you look and still have hopes and dreams.

MC: How does it feel to be a role model for indigenous girls and women around Australia?
JM: When I was growing up I didn’t have a lot of confidence and saw so many girls destroy themselves mentally because they didn’t have role models. It took me a while to accept my position as a role model. That has definitely come over time. If you had asked me that question five years ago I wouldn’t have had an answer for you. I was back in Darwin recently and there was a little Aboriginal girl in my community who had seen a picture of me in a magazine. She asked “is that you?” and I said, “yeah that’s me” and she looked at the picture and said, “you look different… your hair is really pretty and you have a lot of makeup on.” [Laughs] I think for her to see herself in me or a face like hers in a magazine gives hopes to young kids like her who don’t get that opportunity very often. It’s really special to be able to give that.

MC: Do you split time between Sydney and Darwin?
JM: I juggle two different worlds! It’s hard but I would never stop because it makes me who I am. It re-energises me and knowing where I come and remembering my roots keeps me grounded. It’s so important to my music and everything I do.

MC: Is your relationship [with Themeli Magripilis, who works for Darwin City Council] another thing that keeps you grounded?
JM: Definitely. We talk every day. We both come from the same world, and that’s important. We’re both bush kids, and he still goes out hunting and fishing. It brings me back down to Earth. He’s become my spine, my backbone.

MC: How do you deal with having a long distance relationship?
JM: Long distance is hard. It’s the hardest, actually. We still have our little moments when we rant on the phone, but having that distance has made us stronger. It’s something we both have to work on constantly, but knowing that he is there for me means so much to me.

MC: How does he deal with being put in the limelight because of your fame?
JM: He hates it! [Laughs] [But] he knows how passionate I am about music and he has grown to love the industry for me. You know, he’s been on tour with me, and he’s been to events with me [he recently attended the 2014 ARIAs at Mauboy’s side]. It’s a crazy world but I can see he respects it, and I respect him because of that. It’s crazy because he still lives a normal life [in Darwin]. When we’re together he gives me a bit of that.

MC: What’s your exercise routine?
JM: I try to run every day, mostly in the mornings. I’m definitely more of an outdoors person, so whenever I get the chance I’ll go for a run at the beach or in a park. Smelling the fresh air and being outside surrounded by colour and movement is really inspiring when you run. I also love a bit of yoga and I do a bit of meditation just to stay till for a moment and keep calm. I love swimming whenever I can and I’ll also do a bit of circuit training just to keep strong. Mixing it up is the key!

MC: What do you have planned in the new year?
JM: I would love to be touring in March or April and keep the music going. There’ll be some new music next year as well, which I can’t wait for.

MC: And what about fashion…
JM: I’ve been getting into fashion. I’ve always been a big fan of shoes, but yes. Something along the lines of that [fashion] pathway will be happening next year. It’s a bit of a switch up for me but it’s something I’ve always dreamt of doing.

MC: What are some of your favourite brands?
JM: I love Toni Maticevski. I met him when I first started in the industry, and I straight away fell in love with his clothes. I was about 17 at the time and I had no idea about fashion. I grew up in Darwin and just wore singlets and shorts, I didn’t need to dress up. The heat [in Darwin] makes you want to take everything off, anyway.

For more Jessica Mauboy, grab our February issue, on sale today. The singer is just one of the many celebrities who took part in our 'What Gets Me Out Of Bed' competition, celebrating fashion and fitness in the new year. Find out how you can take part in #whatgetsmeoutofbed (and all the incredible prizes you can win) in our February issue, on sale today.

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Interview: Jess Mauboy