Australian singer Jessica Mauboy turned the Eurovision Song Contest's blue carpet red, arriving at the competition's official opening night in Lisbon, Portugal today.
Though Australia is not geographically located in Europe – obviously – our welcome into Europe's iconic annual song contest remains unusually warm, and Mauboy dazzled in a stunning red dress as Europe's media clamoured to speak to her.
The 28-year-old Darwin-born singer said the intensity of the Eurovision competition week was "overwhelming but in such a beautiful way."
"I have so much respect for this show, this incredible event is just wild, the detail in it, the staging," Mauboy said. "We did our second rehearsal a few days ago and I was so overwhelmed again."
Australia is one of 43 countries singing in the competition this year; all 43 artists graced the kilometre-long "blue carpet" at Lisbon's Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, located on the city's Tagus River.
Mauboy said she was surprised at the extent of the emotion she has felt since landing in Lisbon a week ago.
"I thought it was going to be a breeze in that I wouldn't get emotional about it, but it has been emotional, the love has affected, the amount of people around the world who watch this show and are sending love online."
"It feels like I'm dreaming but I am not, I'm awake," she added.
Another curious sight backstage at the competition has been US actor-comedian Will Ferrell, who surfaced behind the scenes at the Altice Arena this week.
According to sources, Ferrell has been in Sweden and decided to travel to Lisbon to look behind the scenes of the Eurovision event, though his purpose is still unclear.
SBS reporter Ben Lewis cornered the Hollywood star backstage but Ferrell declined to elaborate on either his presence or purpose.
The other high-profile US actor in attendance is NCIS star Daniela Ruah, who is one of four hosts for the show; the other three are local personalities Filomena Cautela, Sílvia Alberto Catarina Furtado.
The buzz around Australia's delegation is strong on ground; despite our relative inexperience in the field – this is just our fourth year in competition – there remains strong sentiment for us among competing European countries.
Mauboy is singing We Got Love, which she co-wrote with songwriters Anthony Egizii and David Musumeci.
Egizii and Musumeci previously collaborated on Dami Im's Sound of Silence, which took Australia to a stunning second place at Eurovision in 2016; the pair also co-wrote last year's song, Isaiah Firebrace's Don't Come Easy.
Two key rehearsals of the song are now complete and Mauboy enters this with with an appearance at the second semi-final, which will air on SBS on Friday, May 11, and then – if she scores well – in Sunday's grand final.
At this stage there seems little double that Mauboy will book a slot in the final; most Eurovision analysts are tipping Australia will certainly score in the top 10 overall, and potentialy in the top five.
Mauboy confessed to being nervous.
"I am nervous, I am crazy nervous," she said. "The whole environment makes you nervous, the people involved make you nervous, it's a competition [so] people want you to win, they're saying you're in the top five, you're in the top ten,
"I try not to take notice but you can't help it, you're in the moment of it."
Mauboy said she was not "stressed [but] overwhelmed by everyone's energy. Trying to contain that energy is my goal, to bring that onto the stage, I want to save that and have it come out in the performance."
Michael Idato is a Senior Writer based in Los Angeles for The Sydney Morning Herald.
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