“Mudbound” actress and singer Mary J. Blige covers the November 2017 issue of W magazine photographed by Carrie Mae Weems and styled by Paul Cavaco.
“I didn’t realize how vain I was until I started working on ‘Mudbound.’ Once I saw how my character, Florence, lived [in a shack on a farm in Mississippi], I thought, Wow, I’m really a vain person. When I went to the movie set to do the first day of fittings, I was Mary J. Blige: I had just done a tour and a show, so I was all, you know, I had wigs and weaves and all sorts of things going on, and Dee Rees was like, “No! We want to see you. You can’t have a perm, you’re going to have minimal, minimal makeup.” And I was like, “What about lashes?” And she said no, and I was like, “Really? Florence doesn’t have lashes?” That part was a lot! A lot! But once I tore away and sunk into the character, Florence actually gave Mary—me, the so-vain person—a little more confidence so that Mary didn’t feel like she needed to depend on all of that. I cut my hair really short. Florence really liberated me. Just committing to and trusting that character kind of helped to save my life. I could also relate to her because she reminded me of my aunts and my grandmother who lived in the South. My mom used to send us to Savannah every summer. My grandmother had her own garden, chickens, cows; so I’ve seen chickens slaughtered, I’ve been on a farm.”
“I want, at some point, to not have to work so hard. I want peace of mind and acceptance of self, totally. I know that’s an ongoing process, so every single day I’m working on that, and it’s been hard ever since this challenge I’m having with this divorce. It was such a terrible thing. It made me see myself as “I have to be better than this”: I was never good enough; I was never pretty enough, smart enough. And there was someone chosen over me. It was like, I can’t stay, but it really let me see, Mary, you are better than that. You have to continue to grow.”
Cover: Alberta Ferretti Cape from the Fall 2017 Collection | Joseph Coat | Djula Earrings | Vintage Crown from Early Halloween, New York
Image 1: Balmain Dress from the Resort 2018 Collection | Jacob & Co. Earrings | Munnu the Gem Palace Ring
Image 2: Oscar de la Renta Dress from the Resort 2018 Collection | Djula Earrings | Vhernier Ring | David Webb Rings
[Photo Credit: Carrie Mae Weem/IW Magazine, Courtesy of Oscar de la Renta, Courtesy of Balmain, vogue.com]