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Jessica Mauboy talks The Secret Daughter season 2

ARIA and AACTA Award-winner Jessica Mauboy on season 2 of The Secret Daughter, why she loves working in TV and how it’s different to film.

In the space of one year, Jessica Mauboy has starred in Channel Seven’s hit TV series The Secret Daughter, been nominated for a Logie, and become the first Indigenous woman to achieve three consecutive weeks at #1 on the ARIA charts for the show’s soundtrack.

And now she’s back for round two.

When Screen News catches up with Mauboy, filming has just wrapped on all six episodes of The Secret Daughter season 2 after a seven and a half week shoot in and around Sydney (a few days were spent filming in Dungog).

“I feel a little bit emotional about it,” Mauboy admits.

“Coming from season 1, having dived into the deep end and figuring out this character Billie Carter, it was quite magical to be able to do that for the first time.”

“To return to this character, I think my reaction was ‘here we go, Billie’s back’. In the sense that she’s so strong and so confident. More than I am. She’s kind of like an idol (of mine).”

The Secret Daughter series 2

In season 1, Mauboy credits director Leah Purcell in helping her develop the character of Billie Carter, a country pub singer who travelled to the big smoke not knowing for sure if she was the lost daughter of late hotelier Jack Norton.

Mauboy says it’s that collaborative nature of the screen industry that makes it so special.

"She’s the nuclear part of the show, so she’s really stepped up, even from season 1 to season 2.”

“What I love about the screen industry is you have this whole team that you’re able to work with and mould (an idea) into something,” she says.

“It’s a team effort and it doesn’t just take one person, it takes hundreds, and I’ve been able to connect with (them), from the director, to every individual cast member, to the extras, to amazing catering – people that just make it work and… come to life. These are the things the outside world doesn’t get to see.”

Mauboy’s previous credits include 2012 feature The Sapphires, which she won a Best Supporting Actress AACTA Award for, as well as 2009 movie musical Bran Nue Dae.

The Secret Daughter season 2 producer Lauren Edwards, who was an associate producer on The Sapphires, has been able to see Mauboy go from strength to strength.

“She’s come so far in terms of her performance and her confidence as an actress, because in something like The Sapphires, she was one of four or five leads, but she kind of carries the show in The Secret Daughter. She’s the nuclear part of the show, so she’s really stepped up, even from season 1 to season 2.”

<em>The Secret Daughter</em> series 2 / Jessica Mauboy The Secret Daughter series 2 / Jessica Mauboy

Mauboy, who was also nominated for Logie for her performance in The Secret Daughter, says there’s a key difference she’s found between her experiences of film and TV.

“More lines,” she says, laughing.

She adds that in film, the shoot was around six weeks, and there were less lines to learn because she was more of a supporting role. Not so in The Secret Daughter.

“The biggest difference I’ve experienced is as soon as you’ve finished on set, you go home and learn the next day’s lines or the next week’s dialogue and really get prepared. I was constantly for three months just being ‘in it’, being Billie,” she says.

“I feel like (in TV) I’ve had time to help create and make Billie come to life.”

Part of that was building into Billie some of her own culture and background.

“Growing up in Darwin there is a certain tone and a slang way of speaking and bringing that with me into the city and integrating that… has helped me to be grounded.”

Mauboy says she’s aware of the significance of a commercial network like Channel Seven building a show around her when it comes to seeing more diversity on screens.

“Having been gifted this story and this show… I do feel like I need to be the physical appearance of my mob, or of a modern young female who’s trying to strive and live a normal life, but love what she does,” she says.

In 2018, it will mark 25 years since the Indigenous Department at Screen Australia (formerly part of the Australian Film Commission) started. And Mauboy says she’s been thrilled to see a growing number of Indigenous stories, and Indigenous faces in front of and behind the camera – such as director Catriona McKenzie and actor Rachael Maza in season 2 of The Secret Daughter.

“I think for the Indigenous community and storytelling, it’s just expanding and it continues to,” she says.

“The chain reaction is really what it’s about. One goes out, another one becomes brave enough to do it…

“It’s happening. It’s working and people are becoming more confident, especially the Indigenous community, which is what this is all about, right? Building the confidence to be yourself. That’s really special.”


The Secret Daughter premieres Wednesday 8 November at 8.45pm on Channel Seven. It is a Screentime, a Banijay Group company, production that was made with funding support from Screen Australia.