Mary J Blige has made history for her well-deserved nominations for her roles in the film, Mudbound.
So far, awards season has been somewhat of an emotional rollercoaster for women. The highs have been high, like the heart-stirring moment Oprah became the first black woman to win the Cecil B. DeMille award, and delivered a speech that has become a hallmark moment of the Time’s Up movement.
And of course, the lows have been low. Namely the disappointing all-male nominee line-up for best director, expertly called out by Natalie Portman, also at the Golden Globes.
But with this year’s Oscars has come another opportunity to celebrate. Mary J Blige (aka RnB legend and soundtrack of our teenage years) has become not just the first woman, but the first person, ever, to be nominated for an acting performance and an original song in a single year.
Blige has been nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Mudbound, which follows two families living in a racially divided post-World War II Mississippi. It’s a deeply moving drama, in which Blige portrays matriarch and farmer’s wife, Florence.
The actor and musician also co-wrote and recorded the film’s theme song, Mighty River, a feat which has provided her with a second nomination for the Best Song Award.
Blige isn’t the first actor to have performed the theme song of the film they appear in. Jennifer Hudson’s Love You I Do was previously honoured as the theme song for Dream Girls. But Blige is the first person to have actually written the song themselves: in previous cases the award would go to the song-writer not singer, whereas Blige is both.
The film, which has already been incredibly well received and is available to watch on Netflix, forced Blige to commit deeply to her role and pushed her to let go of professional vanity, casting off the (in her words) “manufactured, material, vain” public persona.
Speaking to the Press Association last year she said, “I had to shed her once I saw Florence’s wardrobe and when I found out I couldn’t wear any lace-fronts and I couldn’t get a perm and I couldn’t wear lashes and I couldn’t wear nails.”
Blige also revealed that her time on the set of Mudbound felt like a very personal challenge. Speaking to The Edit, she admitted that the breakdown of her 13 year marriage, to former manager Martin Isaacs, heavily influenced her acting style.
“The heaviness you seen in Florence came from what I was personally dealing with,” she said. “I was very depressed, and not sure what was going on in my life”, she said.
Clearly Blige’s dedication to her role and the film overall has paid off, and we’ll be crossing our fingers and toes that she scoops the award for both of her nominations.
Images: Rex Features