Nine-time Grammy winner, Mary J. Blige, earned two Oscar nominations for Netflix's Mudbound. Blige is nominated in the best-supporting-actress and best original song (Mighty River) categories.
“I just can’t stop crying,” Blige said, early Tuesday, in an interview with USA Today. Blige is the first person to be nominated for a performance and original song in the same year, for the same film. “This is a new one, the actress nominee, and this is beautiful. This is really special,” she said.
"So is the song because it's something that I love to do. I love to sing. And that's something I've been doing for a very long time that's special to me, and the Oscars have recognized it. So it's all special.”
Blige told The Times: "That means a lot because I never wanted to take this lightly [and] I didn't want people to look at me like I didn't take it seriously because you have the Queen Latifahs and the Tarajis (P. Henson) and the Angela Bassetts and the Viola Davises who worked really hard to pave the way for us. I really want them to be proud of me as well."
The singer was informed of her double nod by a call. “My phone rang at about 5:30 a.m. and it was my publicist, Amanda (Silverman), and she was screaming. And I don’t know what it is so I’m screaming and I’m crying! It’s just a really emotional time. We’re not taking this lightly, because things like this don’t happen. And it did.”
The film is set in a post-World War II era in Jim Crow Deep South and Blige plays Florence Jackson, the matriarch of a rural sharecropper family.
"I take Florence with me, and I take all the experiences and emotion with me," Blige said. "But I don't mind because Florence is a beautiful, powerful, confident woman, and she gave me a lot of confidence and strength in my struggles in my trials that I was dealing with the time."
Regarding Mudbound's message, Blige said: “What I hope that people take away is that no matter how bad or how awful things get or look or people treat us, we cannot give up on ourselves,” adding that “we have to continue to look at the negative as an opportunity to do something positive, to change something.
“Love is the answer. Love is the silver lining through the whole movie. No matter how bad a person treats you or what they say about your color or your gender, don't let it destroy you. Know who you are and be who you are.”
The film's director, Dee Rees, was nominated for best-adapted screenplay – making her the first black woman to do so. Mudbound's Rachel Morrison also made history becoming the first female cinematographer to be nominated.
"(Dee) gave me new life with Florence and she gave me courage to play this character," the singer said. "And Rachel was just amazing. Seeing these women every day on set, it was so refreshing and such a treat and just beautiful."
The multiple nominations have given the streaming service a boost to its original filmmaking agenda.
“I really didn’t think of it the way everyone else is thinking about it,” Blige explained. “I was just like, 'This is great, Netflix is great. It’s the way the majority of people watch movies today.' I still go to the theater to see movies because it’s fun, it’s an event. But I also watch Netflix. I didn't think about it like, 'Wow, Netflix vs. Paramount'.”
Blige co-wrote Mighty River with Raphael Saadiq and Taura Stinson.