Ladies, I know there have been times when you've heard a song and just thought to yourself, "dang, this song was written for me," or "who's taking notes on my love life, because these lyrics are speaking to my soul right now?" We all can relate to having a certain album or track being the backdrop and pinpointing the exact time we fell in love, when we first got our hearts broken or the time we discovered self-love. It's been said that the "Queen of Hip Hop and R&B" Mary J. Blige always puts out her best material when she's experiencing heartbreak. While that may be true, Mary is just a girl from around the way expressing herself through music, all while giving us girls tracks that are relatable at any stage of love.
Have you ever listened to an album and thought this could be a mini visual because of how vivid the lyrics are, you can picture the scene, you can imagine the emotion of each actor, you can visualize the props, etc.? Well, for those of us who love storytelling, especially a good love story; Mary J Blige executive produced two original movies based off the lyrics of two her biggest Hits; "Real Love" from the certified triple Platinum album "What's the 411?" and "Strength of a Woman" from her 13th studio album which debuted at number three on the US Billboard Chart 200.
According to Lifetime, Mary J. Blige's Real Love and Mary J. Blige's Strength of a Woman "are headlined by Ajiona Alexus (Empire,13 Reasons Why) and Da'Vinchi (BMF, All American) with Princess Davis, Austin Anozie, Millan Tesfazgi, Shiraine Haas, Garfield Wilson and Hamza Fouad rounding out the cast and portrays the highs and lows of young Black love."
The First installment, "Real Love," premiered on Lifetime as part of their "Voices of a Lifetime" series. The movie, set in the 90s at an HBCU, follows the life of Kendra who has just started her first year away at school. Kendra is hard working and focused strictly on chasing her passion of photography. Her vision is slightly blurred when she begins to fall for privileged frat boy Ben. Like most young people who are in serious relationships, the two cannot figure out how to juggle school and relationship and school begins to suffer. Kendra has to prioritize and decide which is more important to her. As the movie progresses, we see Kendra experience highs and lows; such as falling in love and being intimate for the first time, breakup, family issues, being sexually assaulted and realizing that no matter what "The Real Love is You!
As we move into the second installment "Strength of A Woman" we fast forward about 15 years and life has changed tremendously for Kendra. Kendra owns her own Photography company in Chicago, and she's also married, but spoiler alert as much as we were rooting for Kendra and Ben unfortunately, they aren't together. Being an adult means we all go through different sets of challenges verse issues we might've endured in our younger years and "Strength of A Woman" touches on all those real-life struggles such as juggling careers and trying to start a family, infidelity, death, betrayal, and the moments we realize that we are worth more than what we think of ourselves. Now without giving away too much Kendra and Ben do reconnect in this installment and the chemistry between the two had all of us drawn in and stressed all at the same time. With a love story that couldn't possibly be told in only in two parts Mary J had the fans saying "We need a trilogy, Sis" and we'll patiently wait while Mary and her team start production. In thr meantime, what song will be a perfect ending to Kendra and Ben's love story?
The nine-time GRAMMY winner providing her life experience and lyrics was the perfect recipe for great storytelling, and serving as executive producer on both films says, "As executive director of these movies I been able to develop these songs into love stories with my music as the backdrop." Mary's music has always been something like a comfort blanket for most woman, because it's familiar and it knows you best. Mary says, "When I wrote "Real Love" and Strength of a Woman," I was searching for a love in people and couldn't find it...I finally found it in myself."
Not only do these films portray the ups and downs of love on screen, Mary and Lifetime recognize that relationships come in many forms and unfortunately love is not always enough to stay. "In support of the content, Lifetime has partnered with Take Back The Night Foundation®, an international event and non-profit organization with the mission ending all forms of sexual violence, including sexual assault, sexual abuse, trafficking, stalking, gender harassment, and relationship violence, and to support survivors in their healing journeys."
W4TC had the honor of joining the Lifetime press junket to speak with a few members of the cast of "Real Love" Princess Davis, who plays Terry Kendra's best friend, gets candid on the importance of forming true friendships and being supportive when your friends might be going through a traumatic event... even if they push you away constantly. Watch below and hear Princess's answer.
Mary and her production team did an amazing job taking us back in time with the selection of hair, clothes, music and dancing. "Mary J. Blige's Real Love" and "Mary J. Blige's Strength of a Woman" are now playing on the Lifetime Network and ON DEMAND.
If you could pick any of Mary's tracks to be turned into a film which ones, would you select and why?