Upon learning of her two Golden Globe nominations – for best supporting actress in Mudbound, as well as for her song “Mighty River” written for the WWII-era drama – Mary J. Blige spoke with EW about her relationship with the movie. “I had no idea what was coming,” Blige told the publication about the Dee Rees-directed film, “but I did know that it was a very important movie.”
The adaptation of a 2009 novel by Hillary Jordan that tells the story of the relationship between a black and white family during the Jim Crow era was a must-do for Blige. “When I read the script, I was like, “This film is extremely important,” because it’s a film that has a silver lining in it. In these types of films, you never see love as the silver lining, and black people are never free,” she said. “These black people were free, and everyone learned how to love each other. Everyone learned that they were exactly the same and that we had to figure a way out of this.”
Blige explained that she got an acting coach in order to prepare for the “huge role,” and how director Rees wanted to strip every bit of the star’s offscreen personality out of her performance of character Florence. “She didn’t want anyone to see me at all,” Blige said, “and I was fine with it. I’ve been around for a while, so it’s hard to kind of get rid of me from me. Once I did it, Florence really liberated me. She helped me a lot. She’s given me a newfound confidence — to be stripped down to my own hair texture, that’s all my own hair. The make-up is very minimal, like sunburned make-up. I’m grateful, because that’s the goal of being an actor — just disappearing.”
As for the nominated ballad “Mighty River,” Blige explained, “It’s a really good and therapeutic to write a song like this for this movie, because when you watch the movie, all you see is the lyrics in this song. You just see every lyric. It’s like, ‘Come on, enough of this already! White flag in hand, I don’t want to do this. I’m tired of doing this. Aren’t you tired of doing this?'” Blige worked on the track with her old friend Raphael Saadiq, an artist who she mentioned she’d ” been a fan of all [her] life.”
The singer is ever-thankful about receiving the nominations, telling EW, “I can’t stop praising God. I can’t stop being happy. I’m just so grateful — too grateful.” Check out the rest of the Q&A, here.