She may consider herself “just Mary,” but liberation is looking really good on Mary J. Blige. Riding high on a wave of Supporting Actress nominations for Mudbound—including two Golden Globe nods and one from the Screen Actors Guild (with the Oscar nominations still pending)—the songstress and actress also celebrated her birthday Jan. 11 at the Critic’s Choice Awards. And she was every bit the bombshell birthday girl, looking snatched for the gawds in a glimmering golden gown.
That morning, she kicked off her personal new year by unveiling her brand spanking new star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, an honor well-deserved by the woman whose accolades include nine Grammy Awards (and 31 nominations) and 10 Billboard Music Awards.
Of course, Mary’s no stranger to high style or red carpets—though we’d be lying if we said her recent glow up doesn’t feel extra special. But what we’re really loving about Blige’s #BestWeekEver is that it reminds us about the beauty awaiting us in every breakdown—in Mary’s case, the ongoing dissolution of her marriage. It’s always a wonderful thing to see your heroes win; but for a star who’s remained as relatable as Mary, it’s also inspiring to see her continue to channel her worst moments into her best performances, as she shared with Variety magazine:
I used a lot of my own heaviness from my own misery that I was living in that horrible marriage … I was just dying in it. I knew something was wrong. I just couldn’t prove it. I just had all the heaviness of not feeling right, not feeling good. I gave it to [the character of] Florence.
But the experience of stripping down to play a sharecropper’s wife during the Great Depression also proved to be affirming for the megastar, helping her tap into the true beauty of being just Mary, without the trappings of being megastar Mary J. Blige.
We couldn’t wear makeup. We couldn’t have nails. We couldn’t do eyelashes. I was stripped down to the bare necessities of Mary. And that really helped me because people were saying things like, ‘Gosh — you’re so beautiful.’ It helped my self-esteem.
And it shows. Frankly, we’ve never seen Mary more beautiful than she has been lately. This Glow Up Goddess is showing us that the lotus truly does grow in the mud—or in her case, in her gorgeous performance in Mudbound. She may not be entirely free of the mess with her soon-to-be-ex, but we’re thrilled to see she’s well on her way to being happy.