Who

Jessica Mauboy

March 16, 2009, 3:39 pm Alicia Neil whomagazine

The dazzling smile is familiar, but as a confident Jessica Mauboy works the camera in a shorter-than-short minidress, she has blossomed from the cherubic 17-year-old we met on Australian Idol in 2006, who at size 12 was infamously told by judge Kyle Sandilands to "lose the jelly belly."

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Today, she has every reason to shine - since coming runner-up to Damien Leith, Mauboy scored a record deal with Sony BMG, sang with the Young Divas and released her debut album, Been Waiting, on Nov. 22. In 2009 she will make her big-screen debut in the Indigenous musical Bran Nue Dae.

And it's not just her career that's hitting a high note: in a decision to "get active" in the lead-up to her solo effort (her first single, "Running Back," peaked at No. 3 on the ARIA singles chart), the 1.64m Mauboy has toned up and trimmed down by 6kg. "Although I feel really confident about my body," says the shoe fanatic ("the higher the better for that lean line"), she insists it's not about losing weight. "Going solo, I wanted to look good, feel happy and healthy and have a lot of energy for performing."

To that end, she established an exercise regimen with the month-long help of a personal trainer, and now does four cardio sessions a week, including half-hour runs and push-up, sit-up and lunge circuits. "I wish I could be more strict" with diet, concedes the bread-lover, who reduced fried foods and carbs, opting for omelettes, salads, fish and chicken, with bananas and cashews as snacks. "I'm pretty chilled out with it," says Mauboy, 19, who allows herself one day a week to satisfy her indulgence: Ferrero Rocher chocolate. Within a month, "I felt healthier and had a lot more energy to get through my day."

But it wasn't always that way. "Stress got to me while I was on Idol and I started eating," says Mauboy, who insists she took no offence at Sandilands's comment. "I kind of took it as a joke," she says. "I look back on it as a positive thing - it made me a stronger person."

Despite a soaring career, Mauboy, who weighs 54kg and wears a size-8 top and 10 bottom, says she's not feeling any pressure to look slim, and hopes to set a positive example to her fans. "I've always had the mindset that if I feel good, I look good," says the Darwin-born singer, the fourth of her Indonesian father Ferdie and Indigenous Australian mother Theresa's six children.

Will she be flaunting a bikini this summer? "I probably won't have time to get to the beach," says Mauboy, who admires the shapes of Jessica Biel and Beyonce. "But I'm definitely proud of my curves - thanks, mum and dad!"

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