Six-time Grammy award winner Mary J. Blige talks about courage, forgiveness and the touching new movie “The Help.”

Kam Williams | 8/16/2011, 12:20 p.m.
(Photo courtesy of Maryjblige.com) Six-time Grammy award winner Mary J. Blige talks about courage, forgiveness and the...

What made you decide to write a song for the film?

When I saw the film, I cried so much. I got angry. I went through so many different emotions but the thing that stood out to me the most is the courage that this woman had. Just based on that alone is what made me say, ‘I’m in.’ If she had been portrayed as whimpering, like ‘Oh, master this and that,’ and had simply conformed to the system that was trying to beat her down, I wouldn’t have had anything to do with it. But she was like, ‘I’m gonna stand!’ And not only that, there was someone with white skin willing to help her.  

Will you still be playing Nina Simone in an upcoming film? What attracted you to that project?

Well, that film got pushed back to October. Nina Simone was not only a great artist, but an amazing woman, an amazing woman. She had a lot of courage. She was an activist. She stood up for what she believed in, and that’s where I can relate to her. She stood up for what she believed in but there was also a side of her that nobody saw, this human side which went through a lot. But yeah, that project’s happening.

How will you prepare for the role?

You gotta do a lot of research. You have to go online. I have a lot of YouTubes of her and I just watch her, study her, read about her, talk to different people about her, but mostly you gotta get in. You gotta look at this character, look at this character and just become whatever she was. You gotta really dig in and get a coach. I gotta get a dialect coach to help with how she pronounced words and a piano coach.

You talk about courage and that’s what I thought about while watching “The Help.” Is there anything women can take from the movie and apply to their struggles today?

Yeah, I think women should band together to get us more respect in all the businesses that we’re in because, you know, if we turn 40 we’re nothing and nobody. We all should band together and just say we’re not gonna go down like that. I’m not going out like that and that’s what Aibileen did. She said I’m not going out like that.