Hip-hop diva Mary J. Blige has logged more time on the red carpet in recent months than on stage, due to her acclaimed turn in the new film “Mudbound.”
For her role as Florence Jackson, a sharecropper’s wife, Blige has shared in several honors with the movie’s cast and also received the Breakout Actress Award at the Hollywood Film Awards.
Her biggest moment on the red carpet will come on March 4 at the Academy Awards — Blige is nominated for two awards for “Mudbound”: Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Song.
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Before her big moment at the Oscars, the Bronx, N.Y., native is returning to more familiar ground — a mini-tour that will include two shows at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 16 and 17, at the Event Center at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa.
More than a quarter-century after her first big success, Blige continues to have a winning career; here are five reasons why:
She’s made Oscar history
Blige is the first Academy Award nominee to get nods for a performance and an original song for the same film. (She shares her nomination for Best Original Song for “Mighty River” with co-writers Raphael Saadiq and Taura Stinson.)
She’s not afraid to come clean
To play Florence, the “Queen of Hip Hop Soul” cast aside her blonde wig, manicured nails and other bling to help reveal the inner life of a woman who’s trapped in poverty on a farm in Jim Crow-era Mississippi.
“It filled me up with a newfound love and a newfound confidence,” Blige tells The New York Times about her role in “Mudbound.” “It was tough at first. It was tough because I was really trying to get rid of Mary J. Blige, who was used to wigs and weaves and makeup.”
Acting is her second passion
Over the past decade, Blige has demonstrated her acting chops in a range of big and small screen roles, including a singing bartender in Tyler Perry’s “I Can Do Bad All By Myself;” Betty Shabazz, the wife of civil rights leader Malcolm X in “Betty & Coretta;” Evilene, the Wicked Witch of the West, in “The Wiz Live!;” and as a hair stylist — a two-episode guest appearance — on “How to Get Away with Murder.”
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She is also getting ready to take on the role of Cha-Cha in the new Netflix series “The Umbrella Academy.” The show will follow a family of superheroes as they attempt to solve the mystery of their father’s death. She will play the role of Cha-Cha, a time-traveling hitwoman.
Her latest album shows strength
The nine-time Grammy winner is touring behind her 2017 album, “Strength of a Woman” (Capitol Records), which hit No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart and spawned two R&B chart-topping singles, “Thick of It” and “U+Me (Love Lesson).” The album followed Blige’s highly-publicized divorce from her manager, Martin “Kendu” Isaacs.
She has vocal ‘drama’
In her live performances, Blige feeds on the emotional release of singing her catalog of signature hits, including “No More Drama,” “Be Without You,” “Real Love” and “Family Affair.”
“If I’m onstage every single night, it can’t just be for my fans. It obviously is for me, too,” she tells New York magazine. “I’m going to feel it like it was the first day. I’m going to relive ‘No More Drama.’ I don’t have a choice. These things really happen, so they just turn up again. And if it’s healing for someone else, it’s therapy for someone else, it’ll be therapy for me, as well.”