Mary J. Blige –

Mary J. Blige in MUDBOUND.

About Mary J. Blige (1971 – ____)

Mary Jane Blige was born on January 11, 1971, in New York City, New York in Brooklyn but grew up in Savannah, Georgia. She and her family moved back to New York and resided in the Schlobohm Housing Projects, located in Yonkers, New York. She is the second of four children born to mother Cora, a nurse, and second to father Thomas Blige, a jazz musician, The family subsisted on her mother's earnings as a nurse after her father left the family in the mid-1970s, the former an alcoholic and the latter a Vietnam War veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. Blige spent her early years in Richmond Hill, Georgia, where she sang in a Pentecostal church. She later moved to Schlobohm Houses in Yonkers, New York, immediately north of New York City, where she lived with her mother and older sister. Blige dropped out of high school in her junior year.

Pursuing a musical career, Blige spent a short period of time in a Yonkers band named Pride with band drummer Eddie D'Aprile. In early 1988, she recorded an impromptu cover of Anita Baker's "Caught Up in the Rapture" at a recording booth in the Galleria Mall in White Plains, New York. Her mother's boyfriend at the time later played the cassette for Jeff Redd, a recording artist and A&R runner for Uptown Records. Redd sent it to the president and CEO of the label, Andre Harrell. Harrell met with Blige and in 1989 she was signed to the label as a backing vocalist for artists such as Father MC, becoming the company's youngest and first female artist.

In 1998, Blige made her acting debut on The Jamie Foxx Show playing Ola Mae; a preacher's daughter who wanted to sing more than gospel music. Her father was portrayed by Ronald Isley of The Isley Brothers. In 2001, she starred opposite rapper Q-Tip in the independent film Prison Song. That same year, she made a cameo on the Lifetime network series, Strong Medicine, as Simone Fellows, the lead singer of a band who was sick, but would not seek treatment. In 2000, Blige was featured in a superhero web cartoon in conjunction with Stan Lee. She used the cartoon as part of her performance while on her 2000 Mary Show Tour. In 2004, she starred in an Off-Broadway play, The Exonerated, which depicted the experiences of death row inmates. Blige portrayed Sunny Jacobs, a woman who spent 20 years in prison for a crime she didn't commit. In late 2005, she landed the starring role in an MTV Films biopic on American singer/pianist and civil rights activist Nina Simone. By spring of 2010, Blige was slated to star as Simone with British actor David Oyelowo portraying her manager Clifton Henderson. Blige later dropped out of the role over financial issues and the role went to Zoe Saldana.

In February 2007, Blige guest-starred on Ghost Whisperer, in an episode called "Mean Ghost", as Jackie Boyd, the school's cheerleader coach grieving for the death of her brother and affected by the ghost of a dead cheerleader. The episode features many of Blige's songs. In August 2007, Blige was a guest star on Entourage, playing herself, as a client of Ari Gold's agency. In October 2007 she was also a guest star on America's Next Top Model, as a creative director for a photo shoot by Matthew Rolston. In May 2009, she made a guest appearance on 30 Rock, as an artist recording a benefit song for a kidney. Blige also had a supporting role in Tyler Perry's movie I Can Do Bad All by Myself, which was released in September 2009.

Blige starred alongside Tom Cruise, Julianne Hough, and Alec Baldwin in the film adaptation of the 1980s jukebox hit musical Rock of Ages. She played Justice Charlier, the owner of a Sunset Strip gentlemen's club.

Blige starred in the Lifetime movie Betty and Coretta alongside Angela Bassett, Malik Yoba and Lindsay Owen Pierre. She played Dr. Betty Shabazz, the widow of Malcolm X. The film premiered in February 2013. In December 2015, she portrayed Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West in NBC's The Wiz Live!. In October 2016, Blige guest-starred on ABC's How to Get Away with Murder as an old acquaintance of Annalise Keating (Viola Davis).

In 2017, Blige starred in the period drama Mudbound, directed by Dee Rees as Florence Jackson, a family matriarch. For her performance, Blige was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award. As she was also simultaneously nominated for a Best Original Song (with Taura Stinson and Raphael Saadiq) Oscar, she became the first person nominated for an Academy Award for acting and writing an original song in the same year.

As an actress, Blige received the Breakthrough Performance Award at the 2018 Palm Springs International Film Festival for her role in Mudbound.

Mary J. Blige's movie credits include...

Year Movie Role
2001Prison SongMrs. Butler
2009I Can Do Bad All By MyselfTanya
2012Rock of AgesJustice Charlier
2013Black NativityPlatinum Fro
2017MudboundFlorence Jackson
2018Sherlock GnomesIrene

Mary J. Blige's television credits include...

Year Show/Series Role
1995New York UndercoverHerself
1998The Jamie Foxx ShowOla Mae
2001Strong MedicineSimone Fellows
2007Ghost WhispererJackie Boyd
200930 RockHerself
2010 & 2012American IdolGuest judge/Herself
2013Betty & CorettaDr. Betty Shabazz
2013The X FactorGuest judge/herself
2015The Wiz Live!Evillene, The Wicked Witch of the West
2016How To Get Away With MurderRo
2018The Umbrella AcademyCha-Cha

Memorable Quotes by Mary J. Blige

“ It almost kills me to say I'm in love, because as soon as men hear that shit, they're gone. ”

“ I don't know. Only God knows where the story ends for me, but I know where the story begins. It's up to us to choose, whether we win or lose and I choose to win. ”

“ My God is a God who wants me to have things. He wants me to bling. He wants me to be the hottest thing on the block. I don't know what kind of God the rest of y'all are serving, but the God I serve says, "Mary, you need to be the hottest thing this year, and I'm gonna make sure you're doing that." ”

“ I don't think there's anything they can say about me that I haven't said about myself already. And I would be an absolute total liar, and my fans would not respect me, if I said that my life and my marriage are perfect. But we absolutely love each other; we have fun together — it's great. Then we have our struggles, and we work through it. That's life. ”

“ You can hate me. You can go out there and say anything you want about me, But you will love me later because I told you the truth. ”

“ You demand respect and you'll get it. First of all, you give respect. ”

Things You May Not Know About Mary J. Blige

She credits her husband, Kendu Isaacs, for helping her clean up her act and to overcome her drug and alcohol addiction.

Her mother, Cora Blige, survived a stabbing by a neighbor.

Her father, Thomas Bilge, was a Vietnam War veteran who suffered post-traumatic stress syndrome.

She's the first person nominated for an Academy Award for acting and writing an original song in the same year.

A huge fan of Led Zeppelin since she was a child, she went so far as to perform the band's classic "Stairway to Heaven" as a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Mary J. Blige in Black Nativity (2013).
With Terrence Howard in Empire (2015).
In I Can Do Bad All By Myself (2009)... bottom
picture with Taraji P. Henson and Adam Rodriguez.
As Florence Jackson in Mudbound (2017)... second picture with Carey Mulligan...
bottom picture with Garrett Hedlund and Rob Morgan.
In Rock of Ages (2012)... top picture with Julianne Hough.
Mary J. Blige in So You Think You Can Dance (2005).