Mary J. Blige: Playing Role Of Black Mother In Segregated South “Healed Me”

Singer and now actress Mary. J. Blige is up for a Golden Globes award for best supporting actress this Sunday in her role as Florence Jackson in this year’s ‘Mudbound’ movie, which was set in segregated Mississippi prior to the civil rights era.

Blige says the role made her realize how “vain” she was, and swerved as a sort of therapy as well.

“It wasn’t easy at first to find this character because I didn’t realize how vain I was until I had to play a character like Florence,” Blige, 46, said while accepting her Breakthrough Performance Award at Tuesday’s Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala, according to People.

Blige, 46, said she had to get out of her comfort zone to play the Jackson family matriarch, who alongside her husband, raised their family amid a vicious culture of racism and racial violence in the Deep South.

For instance, Blige had to forgo her normally pampered routine and luxury beauty items–and instead adapt to a life of nappy hair and mosquitoes in the simulated dirt road landscape of 1930s Mississippi.

“Seriously I had to leave a lot of myself behind, a lot of Mary J. Blige behind,” the soul singer added. “A lot of wigs, a lot of lashes, a lot of makeup, a lot of nails, you know the whole thing.”

In playing Florence, Blige was given a glimpse of life for millions of Blacks in the racially charged era, which allowed her to make an important personal connection.

“Playing Florence was so therapeutic for me and I poured a lot of my personal pain into her,” she said. “And she healed me. She healed parts of me that I didn’t even realize were broken. So connecting with her was a blessing for me personally. I know she was aside me the whole time because my whole family is Southern. And when we were kids, my mom would send us to Georgia in the summers. My grandmother and my aunts are this woman, Florence.”

Mudbound is a Netflix feature.