"I didn't want to strip down because I was afraid."
Makeup is a powerful thing. And whether you wear a full face or nothing at all every day, it's your choice.
Mary J. Blige didn't have that choice when Mudbound director Dee Rees challenged her to go without makeup for her role as Florence in the Oscar-nominated film. That was no easy feat, but it taught her to love her own natural beauty, she explained to Variety Studio: Actors on Actors with Salma Hayek.
In the film, which takes place in Mississippi during World War II, Blige's character is an impoverished sharecropper, so it makes sense that she wouldn't be all dolled up. She told Variety that she put up a fight for a glam squad, saying, “I was fighting to keep lashes. I was fighting for fingernails, and fighting for wigs and things like that. And I just didn’t wanna strip down, because I just was afraid."
In the end, Blige went makeup-free during filming, all the while battling deep-rooted insecurities about the way she looked. But ultimately, the experience was fulfilling and liberating. "I am what I am and Florence helped me to embrace that fully," she shared.
Another reason she was afraid of not looking polished? She was trying to look her best for someone else. "I wanted to be beautiful," she revealed to Hayek, getting choked up as she spoke. When Hayek told her she was beautiful, Blige responded, "I didn't know, I thought these things made me beautiful to this person, so I didn't want to let it go."
After Blige surrendered to her character, she overcame her insecurities and even divulged that she now wears her hair natural. "The texture of my hair is what it is. The color of my skin is what it is," she said. We could all learn something from Blige about letting go and embracing our own inner beauty—instead of hiding behind makeup or anything else.