Young 20-somethings we know as Millennials can be portrayed as self-centred with a chip on their shoulder, but 27-year-old Indigenous singer and actor Jessica Mauboy shatters this stereotype.
Since lighting up our lounge rooms in 2006 as the runner-up in Australian Idol, her career has gone from strength to strength and, with it, her positive influence on the world around her.
The daughter of a Kuku Yalanji woman and an Indonesian father, Jessica grew up in Darwin, and from an early age exercised her fine vocal cords in the church choir alongside her grandmother.
Citing Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston as her musical influences, she has also been inspired by two fellow Indigenous women, Olympic athlete Cathy Freeman and actor Deborah Mailman.
Widely known for her genuine warmth and good-girl image, Jessica’s Facebook page is full of messages of thanks from mothers whose daughters idolise her.
In media interviews, she is relaxed, friendly, with a genuine inner light and ability to touch people’s souls.
In a YouTube interview she says that before a performance, “I think about what I want to give to the audience, and I say a little prayer.” When dressed casually, her choice of jewellery is usually a cross on a chain around her neck.
As a singer-songwriter, Jessica’s lyrics have inspirational lines like “Take a leap of faith to a higher place” and “I believe that anything is possible”—both positive messages for her many young fans.
Following her big break on Australian Idol in 2006, she was later signed by Sony Music, and she never looked back, winning several awards, including the 2014 ARIA Award for Best Female, and the 2012 ARIA Award for Best Pop Release.
Jessica has since performed with international artists Beyoncé and Chris Brown, and had the privilege of welcoming former American president Barack Obama to Darwin, an experience she described as one of the highlights of her life.
The year 2010 saw Jessica add actor to her CV, with a lead role in the Australian film musical Bran Nue Day. She went on to star in the film The Sapphires, based on a true story of Indigenous female entertainers who went to Vietnam to sing for the troops during the Vietnam War. For her role as Julie, Jessica won two awards for Best Supporting Actress. This year she was a big success in the television series The Secret Daughter, and will return for a second series of the show.
Obviously, she is seen as a great role model for young Indigenous girls, and Jessica takes this further in her work as an ambassador for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF), which aims to build literacy levels in remote Indigenous communities across Australia.
“Kids in these communities are smart and often speak two or three languages, but English is often not their first language and they can struggle to cope at school,” she writes on her website.
“I passionately support ILF’s belief that literacy opens the door to a world of opportunities, including jobs, better health and general wellbeing, and I look forward to doing what I can to work with them to make a real difference,” she concludes.
Talented, down-to-earth and passionate about making a difference to other young Indigenous girls—that’s Jessica Mauboy in a nutshell.