Even though she's still proudly known as the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul, Mary J. Blige has cemented herself as a Hollywood actress and now she's using her platform to stand up for the women who sacrifice themselves on set for her – Black stuntwomen.
The famed singer 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. It's through this campaign that Blige hopes to give back to the women who give so much of themselves time and time again to create the outstanding stunts in some of our favorite action and thriller projects.
"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."
The singer – who's starred in shows like The Umbrella Academy and Power Book II: Ghost – is especially grateful to have these women on set helping her fulfill her stunt scenes. She noted to us 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."
Blige is also releasing her new My Life documentary on Amazon Prime, where she'll be revisiting the inspiration behind her critically acclaimed 1994 album. According to the singer, the documentary has been two years in the making and she's excited to share with the world some of the magic her sophomore offering has brought fans over the last twenty-five plus years.
"About two years ago, I was on the Royalty Tour with Nas. He was celebrating [the 25th anniversary of] Illmatic and I was celebrating My Life, and it was so much celebration going on around it," she shared. "TIME named it [one of] the Top 100 Albums of All-Time and Rolling Stone named it [one of] the 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time. It was so much going on I said well let me celebrate my own My Life album. And we started the documentary [then] on tour and off tour."
As far as what fans can expect to see, Blige teased a couple familiar faces that will make appearances throughout the film. "There's a lot of people in it. There's appearances from my family, Method [Man], Nas, Taraji [P. Henson], the great Andre Harrell and the fans," she says. "The fans are the most important part because their perspectives are crazy. It's amazing, it's pretty good."
The classic that Blige describes as her darkest album from one of her darkest moments in life has turned out to be the saving grace for a lot of fans going through their own struggles. The triple platinum-selling album created a special bond between Blige and her loyal fanbase and the documentary intends to revive that same warm feeling once again.
"I just want people [to get] you know that feeling we got when we [first] heard the album. 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."
Mary J. Blige's My Life will be available to stream on Amazon Prime Video on June 25.