I was recently invited to HSN headquarters in Tampa, Florida to interview Mary J Blige in connection with the promotion of her My Life fragrance collection. During my visit I was treated like beauty royalty and for this I am incredibly thankful to the nice folks in Tampa (Hi Mindy! Hey Brad!).
As a Beauty Editor/ Blogger and all around beauty industry fixture, I occasionally interact with and interview celebrities about their collections, collaborations, product launches, etc. Regarding Ms. Mary J Blige – and THIS must be said– Mary J Blige is THEE most gracious celebrity I have had the pleasure of interviewing. And while I am certainly a MJB fan (“What’s the 411” was my 90’s e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g), I assure you, this is no crazed fan girl rant (I am a journalist, people). Mary was kind, patient, warm, genuine, giving, and offered valuable insight into beauty, brand building, and the importance of legacy.
Without further ado — from Mary, to me, to you:
Felicia Walker Benson for ThisThatBeauty:
Mary, I’ve followed your career since “What’s the 411”, which was almost 20 years ago. Can you talk to the importance of building your brand and creating longevity as an entertainer and specifically as a female entertainer.
Mary J Blige:
It’s been a while. The early part of my career, I was in a cloud….trying to get to this place where I am right now and enjoying it all . So no, it doesn’t seem like its been 20 years. But I am enjoying where I am right now. I’m like “Gosh, this is wonderful. This is great. Has it really been 20 years. I hope I have 20 years left because I want more of this”!
FWB for TTB:
What’s your favorite…”What’s the 411″ or “What’s the 411 – Remix”?
Both. I love the remix. Oh my God, it was crazy. And the original–it was great too. It was amazing. Music was just so good at that point in time…for everyone!
FWB for TTB:
Talk to the importance of building a brand and sustaining over a 20 year period.
Branding is incredibly important because it is here when you are gone. It sustains your legacy. You have to be careful with your brand and make sure you are sending the right message. It’s one of the most important parts of why I do this. My brand is about loving, nurturing, and giving people what they need to heal and get through life. I want to give people what they need to make it through life and heal. Your brand is your legacy…it’s the thing that exists when you’re asleep in bed and when you’re long gone.
FWB for TTB:
In looking at the evolution of Mary J Blige the entertainer, it’s obvious that you enjoy fashion and are respected for your fashion choices. Can we chat a bit about your decision to go into beauty?
Beauty is something that I saw in my mom when I was a young girl. The women I grew up around were so beautiful, like you…your skin is fricking incredible and even your hair. You look like a healthy, beautiful, black woman (ME: *gushing and thankful the whole time*). I grew up around women who wore red lipstick like you and really took pride in their appearance. They had great skin, wore red lips, wore fragrance, and wore beautiful fragrances. My surroundings made me want to be glamorous even though I was a tomboy. My friends and family inspired me to get into beauty. There’s just something special about a woman who smells great, who feels beautiful. It’s a beautiful thing. Beauty is a big part of helping you to feel better…if you smell good, you feel good.
Mary, it’s clear that you are a symbol of transformation and positive self-reinvention for many women, which is one of the underlying themes of beauty. Can you please share how your emotional journey has dovetailed with your philosophy on beauty?
I train and work out. I honestly believe that beauty starts from within. You have to get your head right. If your thoughts are not right, you’re not going to look right. I drink a lot of water. I don’t diet hard but I try to keep balanced. Beauty starts inside, you can really blow someone away with your spirit, like you Felicia, you’re giving me all spirit and you are blowing me away with your inner beauty. I can tell you are a good person (ME: *near tears…she’s so kind to me*). And you look nice, but it starts from within. Inside out beauty is what I believe in. And I also believe in forgiveness.
Words to live by. Thank you Mary J Blige and HSN!