EXCLUSIVE: Jessica Mauboy was “terrified” when she joined The Voice

The Australian star admits her new project is one well outside her comfort zone.
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She’s a pop queen, musician, actress and role model, but Jessica Mauboy readily admits to WHO that her latest gig as a coach on Channel Seven’s rebooted version of The Voice left her rattled.

WATCH BELOW: First look at The Voice 2021

“I haven’t really done a big live TV show, appearing as myself, before,” she says. “When I started working on this show, I was way outside of my comfort zone. I was terrified!”

It’s a surprisingly frank admission from an accomplished and much-loved Australian star, who first found fame at 16 when she belted out Whitney Houston’s I Have Nothing at her Australian Idol audition in 2006.

She finished as runner-up on that season. Now 32, Mauboy is more than a triple threat and, despite her fears, is also relishing adding Voice coach to her repertoire.

“It’s scary but it’s also an honour to be a part of it,” she adds.

“When I started working on this show, I was way outside of my comfort zone. I was terrified!” (Credit: Seven)

When you got offered the opportunity to claim one of the big red chairs, how did it feel?

I haven’t actually done anything like this before really, particularly something that could go out to millions of people. This is a whole different game, which I mean in the most respectful way. You’re putting your whole self out there. When I’m creating new music, I’m in the studio and can perfect a song before I put it out so that it really encompasses what I want to say. I was completely terrified of working in that different [TV] space, in front of a live audience and in front of incredible talents like the other coaches [Rita Ora, Keith Urban and Guy Sebastian], which I found quite intimidating to be honest.

What makes you turn your chair for an artist?

What I love about this show, especially the blind auditions, is that we’re going back to the old-school way of just listening, waiting to hear that voice that grabs you. I haven’t seen any of the episodes yet, but I’m already dreading some of my facial expressions. I’m dying thinking about it now and I know I’ll find it hard to watch myself because I can remember how I reacted. I’m a very shy person when it comes to seeing myself on-screen, but I’m not sorry I go all out when it comes to my reactions to the artists either. I’ll just be watching a lot of The Voice with my hands over my eyes, as
if I’m watching a scary movie!

Jess stars alongside Keith Urban, Rita Ora and Guy Sebastian. (Credit: Seven)

Both you and Guy jump-started your careers on Australian Idol. Do you think that means you can relate more to the contenders on The Voice?

I’m so humble and grateful to give my leadership and experience to the people who are auditioning on this show. I had my fears, as I’ve mentioned, but being able to go from being on a very similar stage myself to being able to help other artists starting out on their journey is a huge honour.

We hear you and Rita bonded on set?

We did! We grew up loving the same music and we’d sing and harmonise together on set. She’s so hilarious, smart and fun, but also goofy. I felt like I’d known her forever and she felt the same. She said to me one day, in her London accent, “You’re just like my best girlfriend!” I was really humbled by that and respected it a lot because, while we were all away from our family and friends to work on the show, she was a long way from home so it was nice to be able to give that to her.

Back in 2006, teenager Jess found fame on Australian Idol. (Credit: Ten)

You’re based in Sydney these days. Have you found it hard being away from your family in Darwin?

Really hard, but I’ve been showered with so many FaceTime calls and texts. I didn’t grow up around a lot of tech so I’m still getting used to all the different ways we can stay connected, but I’m so glad we have those tools now. I’m getting showered with love from my partner [fiancé Themeli Magripilis], too. He’s been such a beauty through it all with me. He works in construction and while that was shut down [in Sydney recently], it was so nice to spend that time together at home. He’s been doing some work stuff, via Zoom or whatever, on his laptop downstairs and I’ve never seen him in a version of his work environment before. I’d go down to his office and be like, “Wow, bub! Your face is so serious! Who are you?!”

You got engaged in 2019. Did you have to postpone your wedding?

At first we were just enjoying living together in Sydney because we had a long-distance relationship [between Darwin and Sydney] for such a long time. When we got engaged, I’d just released Hilda and there were plans to tour so I was heavily busy with that and we were also just enjoying our engagement. Then when we started thinking about a wedding, the pandemic kicked off so any wedding we could organise became a kind of “when can it happen” situation and discussion. Like everyone else, our plans got pushed back. It’s disappointing but it is what it is also. The priority became, for both of us, not the wedding day itself, but just making sure we were OK and our families were OK.

Lockdown for Jess and her partner Them has meant a lot of eating and working out. (Credit: Instagram)

What do you do to pass time in lockdown?

Them and I work out in our home gym area. We started more seriously a few weeks back, aiming to build muscle. I don’t know what I’m going to look like when I come out of this latest Sydney lockdown. I’m going to be ripped, or I’ll be the opposite. Them has always been a really great cook but during this lockdown, he’s really getting into it. He’s loving his roasting and his souvlaki – he’s a master on the barbecue! He’s taken over my kitchen and I’m all for it. I don’t even have to tidy up after him because he cleans as he goes!

I’m very lucky to have a man who’s so domesticated. The only thing I probably complain about is making sure we take time out for a date night because we’re both so busy. I’m like, “Let’s actually have a candlelight dinner, please. Even if we’re at home in our trackies.” Maybe we can have that in front of The Voice – if I can watch it.

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