Mary J. Blige

By Ron Wynn

NASHVILLE, TN — Vocalist/actress Mary J. Blige’s latest project, the documentary “My Life” debuted on Amazon Prime Video over the weekend and is now available to be streamed. But Blige told The Hollywood Reporter that the film gives her the same thrill as when the LP was initially released. “I just want people [to get] you know that feeling we got when we [first] heard the album,” she said. “You’ll get it again when you see the documentary,” she says. “That’s the gift I want to give back. I wasn’t the only one going through what I was going through. [The documentary] is triumphant, it’s not sad. [Better yet] it’s sadness that moves into happiness. My Life is no longer like oh god [I’m crying because I’m sad], My Life [now] is like I’m crying because I made it through.”

Long known as the “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul,” Blige is now also on other campaigns to aid others. One of those involves getting more publicity for Black stuntwomen. She recently announced a partnership with Gold Bond for their #ChampionYourSkin campaign, which strives to celebrate these stuntwomen who put themselves to the test to break down barriers for themselves and others in Hollywood. 

“The first time I ever heard about Black stuntwomen in Hollywood not getting recognized or being a bigger part of the [industry] was through Gold Bond,” she told Shadow and Act. “I’m really really happy to partner with Gold Bond for their Champion Your Skin campaign and use my spotlight to help a community of people that never get [acknowledged]. It’s [especially] important to me as a Black woman in Hollywood who’s always shooting, fighting, falling and doing all kinds of stuff. I don’t mind doing all of that but the producers and directors of [these] shows want us to come back to work in one piece, and these women take the fall and get broken up for us because they’re trained to do what we can’t do and they make us look like superheroes.”

Blige has previously starred in shows like “The Umbrella Academy and Power Book II: Ghost.” She adds that “Black stuntwomen are constantly sacrificing their life, their skin and their mind” to act as doubles while rarely getting highlighted for their dangerous yet commendable work. They have to take their whole being to jump out of a car or get shot or whatever it is we can’t do they do. They’re sacrificing everything just so we can be great.”

As part of her Gold Bond partnership, the company also supports nonprofit organization Diamond in the Raw in its efforts to launch its “Skin Champions Stunt Workshop” – a program designed for young Black girls to teach them how to become stuntwomen. Looking ahead, Blige hopes that moving forward we’ll see a shift in the TV and film industry and the way that it spotlights these Black women’s contributions to Hollywood. “[I hope] that we see more of them,” she says. “There won’t be white women getting their skin painted Black, [these Black stuntwomen] will get more opportunities and you’ll see their name in the credits, which you should.”