Mary J. Blige is featured in the October issue of Essence. It’s her tenth time on the cover and this time around, she discusses her mission to save women from poverty and abuse, and with the help of a few questions from fans, touches on the topics of drugs, marriage, and staying at the top of the music game. Here are a few excerpts:You had to suffer through physical, emotional and drug abuse.

At what point did you decide enough was enough? Who introduced you to the recovery process that seemed to transform your life? James A. Johnson, Richmond

Mary J. Blige: It was during the “No More Drama” album when I realized: if I don’t do something, I’m not going to be here anymore. I made a decision to get help, not from any rehabs or anything like that, but I prayed and asked God to send me someone to help me. And he sent me help in the form of a man, and it was my husband, Kendu Isaacs. That’s my friend who helped me to get to a point of asking myself questions like, “Why am I doing this?” With him I had to go meet the message that was coming from the messenger. At that point, I was finished with everything. God works in mysterious ways.

Although this is not your first movie [Mary’s debut was “Prison Song” in 2001], what challenges did you face filming? – Letia Mitchell, Danbury, Connecticut

MJB: Getting into this character, Tanya, was hard, because it was like a blank canvas, and I had to fill it in. Actors and actresses don’t get the credit that they deserve, because they have to develop this person. After reading the script, I know who Tanya is. She’s a protector of people. But I had to give her a backstory; I had to give her an age, a first date, siblings. Does Tanya have a mom? A dad? How did she become a recovering alcoholic? I had to go do all that background work.

Do you feel any pressure to keep pumping out hits because of the younger artists? – Angie Kyles, Los Angeles

MJB: I feel no pressure. I pump out hits for my fans. They just want to hear from me. I don’t compete with the young generation, I learn from them. I listen to what they’re saying, so I can get a little bit of that, so we can cross, so we can have an understanding and hear each other.


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