Celebrity Sit-Down: Mary J. Blige

She’ll soon appear in 'Rock of Ages' and has a new album out in October, but Mary J. Blige's true passion is giving other women a second chance.
 

By Holly George-Warren
mary j. blige image
Photograph: Mark Baptiste

On her relationship with longtime collaborator Sean 'Puffy' Combs Puff is my family; he’s my brother. He’s a hard worker, and a lot of my strengths and work ethic come from him pushing me.

On her My Life sequel, My Life II . . . The Journey Continues On the first one, I was in a dark, dark, dark, dark place, crying out for help. But on this, I’m celebrating the fact that I can give advice and still understand we all have trials and tribulations. I’m celebrating that we know how to get through them, because they’re going to continue to come.

On turning 40 Honestly, this is the best I’ve ever felt. I’m feeling smart, and delivering. I’m cool in my skin because it is what I have.

On young female artists like Katy Perry and Lady Gaga I like what they're doing. They're doing what's supposed to be done, which is being creative and making good songs.  Katy Perry is really impressive to me because she can sing, and when you see her visuals, they're just really amazing.  Her videos ... and she has good songs and concerts.  And Lady Gaga, as well. She's another super-duper talented chick.  I think they're doing great!

On paving the way If I’ve inspired [younger artists], it’s to be the leader, not to follow. Do whatever you’ve got to do to fight for your identity. Katy Perry’s doing a good job—and Lady Gaga as well.

On her 30 Rock cameo I had so much fun. I didn't want the experience to be over. Alec Baldwin was just amazing ... beautiful ... so nice, so funny I couldn't stop laughing.  Everybody on that 30 Rock set was just amazing. They are what you see that they are, and they showed me so much support and love.

On her foundation, FFawn (The Foundation for the Advacement of Women Now)
It got started about three years ago when my friend and business partner, Steve Stout, came to me and asked me what was I most passionate about.  And I said, 'I'm most passionate about seeing women have a second chance in life, and understanding that they're important to the world because so many women don't think they're important.' For women to get a second chance, it feels good to be empowered and to be educated, and to know what you're talking about ... and to feel beautiful. I have a Mary J. Blige Center for Women in Yonkers that acts as a one-stop shop for women who want to complete their education, or talk about what they're dealing with.  And there's a Child Care system up there. We [also] sent 25 women to college, we renewed their scholarships on Sunday, and we're sending 25 more women to college on four-year scholarships.  So we're doing what we're supposed to do, which is giving women and children a second chance and making them feel important. 

On the healing power of music
A song can make you feel good, make you feel bad and get through something, or it can make you want to change something in your life. Music is very, very powerful, so I'm very careful with my concepts and the things I say because I don't want to offend people in any way, and I don't want to hurt their children, either. 

 

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First Published August 17, 2011

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