Vulture

Skip to content, or skip to search.

queens of soul

Mary J. Blige Explains Why She Was Born to Play Nina Simone

Mary J. Blige is currently working hard before shooting on the Nina Simone biopic, Nina, begins in the fall: "I'm in acting classes, French classes. I'm in posture classes," the singer told us last night at the Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Spring Ball at New York's Pierre Hotel — but her well-documented history of personal drama may turn out to be her best preparation. Simone, who suffered from bipolar disorder, "comes from a very dark place that she could never escape," Blige explained. "By the grace of God I've escaped mine somewhat ... but still, a lot of days I have heavy days, so it's easy to channel those for the part." The similarities between the High Priestess of Soul and the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul don't stop there. "The thing about Nina is she didn't trust people for a very long time, just like me," Blige continued. "I definitely didn't trust him" — here she gestured toward her manager-husband, Kendu Isaacs — "from the beginning because I didn't trust men, period. But I trusted something in me that needed his help and I've never seen that in anyone else before. This story was written similar. Our lives are pretty similar."

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images, David Redfern/Redferns