The television scene

Mary J. Blige lands a dream role


Singer Mary J. Blige has been in movies before — Tyler Perry’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself and last year’s Rock of Ages — but her latest project was a definite change of pace.

In Betty and Coretta, which airs at 8 p.m. Saturday on Lifetime, Blige plays Betty Shabazz, the wife of Malcolm X. Angela Bassett plays Coretta Scott King, and the movie follows how the women carried on after their husbands’ assassinations.

“You have to make sure to keep the integrity to the person that you’re playing, who was a human being on the earth who was very important,” she says. “It’s a big responsibility.”

Blige, who’s also an executive producer of the movie, was drawn to the personal nature of the role, she says.

“The fact that Betty and Coretta were friends made me really interested in the project,” she says. “I had no idea they were friends. It really intrigued me. ... The major part of the movie is how they go on after their husbands die, how they continued to be a rock for their children, to educate them, to be a mother and father to them.”

Working with Bassett was a dream come true, she says.

“It was amazing, a treat, a blessing,” she says. “Angela is one of my favorite actresses of all time. I was just so happy to work with her.”

Blige likes acting, just like she enjoys her business ventures (she released a fragrance recently and hopes to release a line of boots, too — “women love my shoes,” she says). But music always comes first.

“It’s my first love, the first thing that made me happy on this earth other than my parents,” she says. “It’s the thing that made me smile when I was sad and made me feel good about myself when I didn’t know what to feel good about myself for.”

Connie Ogle

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