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Mary J. Blige for her My Life Documentary. Image By: Amazon Prime Video

By Alyssa Davis 

Mary J. Blige’s My Life documentary, directed by Vanessa Ruth, allowed me to understand the person and the artist. Wonderfully produced, the film took a 25-year journey throughout her life as an artist, exemplifying her pain during dark times. But she has come out on the other side exuding growth, individuality, perseverance, and so much more.

Source: Amazon Prime Video

As a Zillenial, I wasn’t even born when that signature album My Life was released. Honestly, the documentary was my first introduction to her music, style, and struggles. Growing up, I listened to T-Pain, Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, Rihanna, Ciara, Drake. But, the varied musical tastes in my household – ranging from Elton John to JayZ – primed me to get to know and enjoy Mary J.

As I watched the documentary, I was taken by the graphical imagery that illustrated Mary’s story. I could powerfully almost picture her memories. The beautifully crafted art made them come alive – triumphs and trials that shaped the magic. Never realizing the struggles she endured, I only knew her as the Superstar she is today. Her hardships, raw are relatable, solidified a three-decade connection with her fans.

Photo Illustration Source: Amazon Prime Video – Mary J. Blige’s My Life Documentary

The music was Mary’s escape and the form that she could express herself. She helped other Black women feel seen and know that they matter. That message is important, especially to some Black girls who were erased from the exact spaces that Mary walked. She was the source of pride because Black women from all walks of life realized that they could reach their dreams without changing who they are.

Mental health awareness, often shunned in our community, is viewed as a weakness. Mary opened up about her struggles with depression and the abuse she suffered while dating K-Ci Hailey – abuse that triggered past traumas and ultimately led to substance misuse. Mary sharing her struggles in My Life, let people know they are not alone in tough times.

As a young Black woman, I was inspired to see how Mary overcame her insecurities. Yes, she was insecure and plagued by self-doubt. But she didn’t let it change her. She didn’t give in to peer pressure or follow the crowd. She stood on her own in her quest to be her best self. As Mary demonstrates, we can authenticate ourselves without needing the endorsement of others. This is an affirming reminder in the age of social media and the drive for “likes” to say we matter.

Alyssa Davis, a 2021 graduate of Howard University, is a member of the SRPUnerased digital team.