Mary J. Blige is doing better these days but in the wake of her divorce to former manager Kendu Issacs, the “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul” can’t help be reflective of what she’s been through. During a recent press run for her Sundance-beloved film Mudbound, the singer was honest and frank on how she used her real-life grief in the period drama centered around race and love.
Speaking to Variety, the singer gushed about the Dee Rees-directed film (Bessie, Pariah) while being blunt about realizations of her 12-year marriage. “I’m doing OK,” she said. “I’m living. I’m not happy about a lot of things. I thought someone loved me, right? Turns out, he was a con artist and he didn’t, and now he’s coming after me for all my money.”
During the release of her latest album, Strength of a Woman, the singer dealt with a legal battle with Issacs. A judge ordered Blige to shell out $30,000 a month for spousal support. Issacs initially requested $100,000 to uphold his lifestyle and charitable efforts. Blige says her troubled marriage helped her with the role of Florence Jackson. It also helped her come to terms with some painful truths.
“When you come out of something like that, you realize you were never the one,” she said. “There was someone else that was his queen. I got played. I got suckered. I have to keep smiling and keep my spirits up because this is designed to kill me.”
But it wasn’t all about love and relationships for Blige. The entertainer says she was able to uncover another layer of self-love in the role. “I just had all the heaviness of not feeling right, not feeling good. I gave it to Florence,” she said.
Rees also had a no-weave or wig requirement on set that helped Blige tap into her character and at times, her insecurities. “For a long time, I didn’t want people to see my hair. I don’t know why,” she said. “I’m not as vain. That’s the thing about Florence that I love. I got the chance to be pure.”
Check out the full interview here and a trailer for Mudbound below. The film will be released on Netflix and in select theaters November 17.