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Soul Down Under

SINGING SENSATION: Jessica Mauboy

EVERY SO often a movie or documentary is released that highlights the plight of indigenous Australians and the hardships they faced throughout history. These films often depict aboriginal people especially the women as passive, weak willed and more commonly as the tragic victim.

One film bucking the trend is The Sapphires, which portrays Aboriginal women as strong, sexy females whose actions helped change the shape and the stereotypical role of women in Australian history.

Based on a true story, the movie is a feel good comedy set in 1968 and follows the lives of four young girls through the highs and lows in their quest for stardom as a soul band. The film takes us to a pivotal time in Aboriginal civil rights history, which incidentally mirrored the same era in 1960’s America.

Singer Jessica Mauboy plays the role of Julie, the youngest of the group who is searching for fame. Life & Style caught up with the Australian Idol star as she talked about the fun she had making the film, her pride at being an ambassador for Aboriginal culture and jumping up at this year’s Notting Hill Carnival.

“Playing Julie was really powerful for me,” said the 23-year-old. “I think all of us in the film were like ‘wow.’ Because we actually get to tell an aboriginal story written especially for women with four indigenous women playing lead parts! It was like a dream come true,” said the songwriter.

Mauboy made history by becoming the first aboriginal contestant in the popular Aussie talent show, Australian Idol. Speaking about the bond that developed during filming, the actress explained how the cast grew into a family.

“We became like sisters, also coming from the same upbringing and background made it easier. Wayne Blair, the producer, really pushed us he wanted us to have that opportunity to really tell the story, to be raw and to be totally honest,” she said.

To prepare for their roles the girls met the ladies who were the inspiration behind the film.
“It was amazing experience,” smiled the Running Back star. “Out of respect we called them aunties, we went to their favourite restaurant in Sydney and we just sat back with them listening to their stories. It really helped to know the back stories of each of the characters.”


IN ACTION: The Sapphires portrays Aboriginal women as strong, sexy females whose actions helped change the shape and the stereotypical role of women in Australian history.

The film draws heavily on the impact the forced removal of Aboriginal children had on Aboriginal community, known as the ‘stolen’ generation, something the singer feels very strongly about.

“This film has given people the opportunity to talk about what happened in the past. I mean it’s crazy to think that only now families are being able to reunite with each other. My family were never stolen although my families, families down the tracks were. So those stories have been passed on,” admits the actress, whose mother was indigenous Australian and her father of Timorese Indonesian decent.

She added: “I think that Aboriginal people looked to the African Americans because of what they were going through. They, (African American’s) where coming over to do music and in their spare time they would go out to the bush and hang with the Aboriginal people and obviously that was the connection with both communities.”

Starring in Australia’s highest earning opening weekend film since 2010; Mauboy has been propelled into international stardom. She has worked with top US stars, Chris Brown, Snoop Dog and the UK’s very own Jay Sean, an experience she described as ‘amazing’.

She is now seen as a role model and spokesperson for the indigenous population and it’s a role that she takes great pride in.

“I love representing my community, that’s the best part of what I do,” smiles the Darwin native. “Having children identify and seeing another black faces on TV is a great feeling. When I go back home kids come up to me, and say ‘Your just like me Miss Mauboy, I like you. I can see someone who has the same kind of nose, the same kind of eyes as me.’”

When questioned on the comparison between London and Australia, she answered laughing:
“Australia’s really behind you know, especially with music. In the summer I went to the Notting Hill Carnival and I loved it! We were there the whole day we went in the morning, me and my musical director.”

“People who we were working with were like ‘Please be careful, there are crazy people there, and people get stabbed at Carnival’. But when we got there we were like are you kidding me? It was nothing like that at all, it was just people having fun, eating, having a drink. It was insane! There was such a beautiful black community, beautiful black men, beautiful black women, I was like wow, and I had never seen anything like it.”

“And the food it was Jerk Chicken! Rice and Peas - I need some more! I was jumping like a crazy woman, we went from section to section, it was so cool, I absolutely loved it, I definitely want to come back and do it again!

The Sapphires is out now cinemas nationwide for more information visit www.hopscotchfilms.com.au/the-sapphires-film

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