Singer, songwriter, actress, activist, and reigning queen of hip-hop soul Mary J. Blige has been both a role model and role-player throughout her 30-year career. The Grammy winner has inspired two generations of black women with gritty, denominational albums as well My life and Share my worldas well as her equally fearless onscreen appearances – including a star twist as Florence Jackson in the drama of World War II Mud-bound, which received its historic Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Song in 2018 Strength of a woman Divas portrayal of the assassin Cha Cha on Netflix The Umbrella Academy, which she insisted on performing many of her own stunts for, she wanted to join Gold Bond’s #ChampionYourSkin campaign and stand up for the performers she believes deserve their own Oscar category: Black Stuntwomen.
“I’m just that kind of girl. I don’t mind getting dirty and upset. … I learned how to fight and move when I was younger and broke up, and then I had a lot of situations in my real life where I had to fight men – so I learned how not to get away from it catch them, ”Blige said matter-of-factly to Yahoo Entertainment when asked about her seemingly risky decision to do her own stunt work. “But my adrenaline was so high when I was fighting mine [Umbrella Academy] Partner who was huge that I didn’t realize how hurt I was until I got home. I got a lot of hits. So imagine the stunt women, the hard work, the they do it regularly – they roll, they fall down stairs! “
At the time, Blige had just divorced her ten-year-old husband (and manager) Martin “Kendu” Isaacs after a lengthy, public, and bitter legal battle. She told me diversity In 2017, she relied on “a large part of my own gravity from my own misery that I lived in this terrible marriage” Mud-bound‘s Florence, but she’s now telling Yahoo that playing Cha Cha and beating up bad guys was a lot more enjoyable, even though it’s cathartic too. “I loved it because I just wanted to do that to a certain person, ”she laughs. “I loved every moment. I said to my partner ‘hit me!’ – And I hit him back Heavier. I just loved it. “
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Blige is known for plunging herself physically into her musical performances as well, often casting out her demons through her highly personal lyrics that record her experiences with depression, addiction, heartache and abuse. This is a major reason she has been connected to her fans over the decades, and she almost sees this as a sacrifice, an act of service. “The beauty of performing is that I’ve been given a gift to relive things again – again because it really happened,” she muses. “And when you hear these lyrics, she lives again; If you sing these lyrics, it will be alive again. And I believe I have been gifted with the ability to do that and not let it hurt me. Doing that, reliving that on stage, helps someone else heal. And I don’t mind that this is my job on this earth. If I’m supposed to do that, then I did.
“I hear so many stories. People keep coming up to me and saying, “This song saved my life” or “This song got me through college” or “This song helped me not to kill myself”. So many stories about people preparing to commit suicide or in a bad relationship getting divorced and my songs helped them get divorced, ”continues Blige, quoting My Life and No More Drama “As their songs that seem to be most related to the fans. “I met a girl who said my song stopped her from going off a cliff – it was ‘my life’. This other girl and her mother told me a story about their daughter who was mutilated by a dog and she never spoke again – and then one day in the car she heard ‘No More Drama’ and started to speak. “Blige admits that sometimes this is a heavy“ responsibility that I just don’t like to take, ”but she humbly points out,“ Gosh song saved your life. I didn’t do it. It was the medicine in my song. “
Blige just received her first Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nomination, performing alongside Tina Turner, Chaka Khan, and Dionne Warwick on the female voice in Rock Hall history (and the most racially diverse in 15 years). With her successful Starz series, she is more focused on acting at the moment Power Book II: Mind and her upcoming role as Dinah Washington in the biography of Aretha Franklin respect, but Blige has a new album in the works. And she could soon receive another award, her third Oscar nomination for her music: her ballad “See What You Have Done” by Belly of the beast, a documentary about illegal sterilization practices in women’s prisons, is shortlisted by Oscar nominees for best songs. Blige explains that she knew she was part of the film – another major project advocating for marginalized women’s rights – when she saw the disturbing and moving footage.
“Man, when I saw the documentary, I was really crazy,” says Blige. “I could not believe what i saw. I couldn’t believe women were treated like that. They have been sterilized and their rights to be women and born children have simply been torn from them. And some of them didn’t even know it was going on. It just blew my mind, and the song ‘See What You Have Done’ is just that, ‘Look what you did. This bruise can never heal because I can’t have a child now. ‘You know it’s deep. “
What life and global events will inspire to the lyrics of Blige’s highly anticipated 14th studio album – which the singer says fans will “be hearing about soon” – will of course always keep her real. “The majority of the world has been through a lot since my first album and that My life Album; The majority of the world is kind of sad, ”she muses. “There is beauty in triumph after tragedy, and people love that too, but I have to live from a real place. I can’t do what people want me to do. I have to do what I am honest with so that I can sleep at night and really help someone heal with my honesty. When I feel great, it’s not that I feel that greatestbecause I still have exams. I’m still doing things. But guess what? I’m getting through I am optimistic. I am hopefull. And if I’m just going through hell, then I’m going through hell, Period. There is no optimism. And I had that too. But I got more of “OK, I’m optimistic – but here comes this process.” This is more of my life now. … And the inner work has to be done every day to stay chipper. “
The superstar, who recently celebrated her 50th birthday, concludes, “I’m learning how to be more confident and patient, really more confident of who I am, what I am, in my own skin. It was a process, and I’ve come very, very far in it. And so every time there is a negative thought about myself, about my life, I turn it off, turn it off, turn it off. “
If you or someone you know has thoughts of suicide, don’t hesitate to ask for help. The National lifeline for suicide prevention is open 24 hours a day at 800-273-8255.
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– Video produced by Jen Kucsak, edited by John Santo