Mary J Blige: I just want to live now because I feel l've survived death

October 28, 2011

Help seems like one of the few US films that really gets the history of racism right. Do you agree?

I do. I guess it’s because people are ready to hear the truth. Timing is everything. I believe the universe is ready to accept what it is, or what it has been and how it is even sometimes now. At least it’s not as bad as it was.

What made you write this song for it?

I was so moved by the film. It made me cry, it made me laugh, it inspired me, it made me pissed about a lot of things. I most love the part where Aibileen [the title character, played by Viola Davis] tells a little girl: ‘You are smart, you are kind, you are important.’ That meant so much to me because Aibileen walked in love and love was the answer, the thing that broke all the barriers.

In November you’re releasing My Life II – The Journey Continues, a sequel of sorts to your seminal 1994 album My Life. Why?

Because it’s going to be so different to the first one. It won’t be as dark. At the time of My Life, I was suicidal. I hated myself. But on this one, I want to live. I believe in myself. Everybody’s life has good and bad times.

How have things changed for you?

I hated myself, I didn’t even know why. I was weak, I was an alcoholic, I was a drug addict. It was just awful. Now I just want to live because I feel I’ve survived death.

Do you really feel like you came close to death?

I do. I hate to speak about drugs but it felt and looked like a near-death situation. One day my living room didn’t look familiar to me. It looked like I was somewhere else, and I thought I was dead. So that day, I stopped the coke. And then there was a day where I actually felt like my spirit was going to leave. I was, like: ‘Wait, wait, wait!’ It felt like I was going to die.

How did you get past that?

I met people that wanted to help me, and I asked God to give me strength. Now I’m not going anywhere. I love every single day of my life. But what I love the most about my life is that it’s imperfect, and that’s what allows me to help people. My imperfections are what touch other people.

Do you still drink?

Absolutely. But I can’t abuse it because I abused it so hardcore. I don’t use it to numb any more. It’s just to celebrate.

You were molested when you were five and eventually chose to make that public. Why?

Because so many people need to know that you’re not the only one. And that if we talk about it, we can get help.

You have your own foundation, FFAWN (Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now). How did that come about?

Because talking about things helps us to get through them. It’s an all-women foundation for holding each other together, for speaking about what we’re dealing with. It’s for women to give each other answers. I also have the Mary J Blige Center for Women in New York that helps women complete their education.

Is it true you went to a finishing school?

Almost. It was an etiquette school to teach me how to do interviews but I said I didn’t want to learn how to act. I said: ‘I don’t act like Mary, I want to be Mary.’ Maybe I should have gone. Nah, I like me the way I am.

What do you think you would have done if you hadn’t found success as a singer?

Maybe hair or nails. Something like that.

Do you tweet?

Oh, Twitter is important but you have to be very smart. I always send out positive messages but you have to be careful because there are a lot of nasty people on Twitter.

How do you deal with that?

You have to ignore them. If you don’t ignore them, it’s going to be news.

The Help is in cinemas now.



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