Oscar, meet Mary.
“I just can’t stop crying,” says Mary J. Blige early Tuesday morning, holding back tears over the phone. The nine-time Grammy winner had just earned her first Oscar nomination, a best-supporting-actress nod for Mudbound, the Netflix tale that focuses on the post-World War II era in the Deep South.
Like many, she was asleep when the news came. “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.”
Blige earned a second nod for best original song, Mighty River. She is the first person ever to be nominated for a performance and original song in the same year, for the same film.
Mudbound‘s Rachel Morrison also made history as the first female cinematographer to be nominated in the awards show’s history. “Wow! I didn’t know,” says Blige, adding that she “didn’t hear Dee Rees’ name (for best director), which was so upsetting to me.”
Still, Rees is in the running for best adapted screenplay, and Blige’s nomination is a watershed moment for Netflix, which has previously failed to crack major categories for its narrative films.
Taking on the role of Florence Jackson, matriarch of a rural sharecropper family, “I really didn’t think of it the way everyone else is thinking about it,” she says. “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 says she hopes the message of Mudbound, an unflinching look at prejudice, PTSD and friendships made across the color divide, permeates the current culture.
“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,” she says. “And 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.”
— HuffPost BlackVoices (@blackvoices) January 23, 2018
— Black Girl Nerds (@BlackGirlNerds) January 23, 2018
#DeeRees is the first black woman to be nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, @octaviaspencer is the first black actress to receive multiple noms after already receiving an Oscar win + @maryjblige is the first black woman to have two Oscar noms in the same year! #BLACKGIRLSROCK! pic.twitter.com/iash7c5fld
— BLACK GIRLS ROCK! (@BLACKGIRLSROCK) January 23, 2018
Mary J. Blige is the sixth African American female recording artist to be Oscar nominated for acting, joining Ethel Waters, Dorothy Dandridge, Diana Ross, Queen Latifah and Jennifer Hudson pic.twitter.com/Fe479UPni1
— Wilson Morales (@blackfilm) January 23, 2018
In 20 years of acting, her nominations for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and Best Original Song (both in @mudboundmovie ) are @maryjblige’s first ever #OscarsNoms! Congratulations! #Oscars2018 pic.twitter.com/uESO5VpReg
— theGrio.com (@theGrio) January 23, 2018