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‘Mary J. Blige’s My Life’ Director Praises Singer For ‘Destigmatizing Depression’ As Must-See Doc Premieres

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Vanessa Roth explains why she thinks the singer from The Bronx is an ‘inspiration,’ a model of triumph over pain.

From “Be Happy” to the title track “My Life,” when Mary J. Blige’s second album was released in 1994 it became an instant classic. Raw and unflinching, through her lyrics the New Yorker stripped away any pretense that, at that time in her life and career, she was OK.

My Life is probably my darkest album, at one of the darkest times I’ve had,” the 50-year-old says in the trailer for Amazon Prime’s new docufilm, Mary J. Blige’s My Life, which premieres on June 25. “Most of the times I was just depressed and I didn’t want to live,” she adds.

‘Mary J. Blige’s My Life’ explores the making of the singer’s influential second album. (Courtesy of Amazon Studios)

Vanessa Roth, the Oscar-winning director behind the Amazon Prime doc, thinks that’s exactly why fans should watch the film. “Mary is just a really beautiful model, an inspiration to feeling what you feel, and destigmatizing depression,” she says. “Destigmatizing those painful parts of life that we all go through and need each other, in order to heal from.”

Vanessa tells HollywoodLife what it was like revisiting the most painful parts of Mary’s life with her in this searing documentary that features interviews with Diddy, Alicia Keys and Taraji P. Henson:

HL: What drew you to this project?

Vanessa: “Mary drew me to the project. She really wanted to make a film that… [is] not a biopic about her whole life, that is a much bigger, different kind of story. This is about one album. It’s her second album. It was a time in her life that she describes as her most difficult, struggling time and it was an album that healed her [and] at the same time then connected her to audiences that became her fans for the rest of their lives. And so, to me, it was the mix of being able to tell a story about an icon and have that incredible music and influence, with this very human story of pain and longing and healing.”

Mary J. Blige, Diddy
Mary and Diddy (who was then known as Puff Daddy) in the ’90s. The two collaborated on her early albums at Uptown Records. (Courtesy of Amazon Studios)

HL: Why do you think Mary is so beloved?

Vanessa: “I think it’s that mix that she’s able to harness this human part of herself and really dig deep no matter what and really feel things. And then she has this gift of being a writer and an artist and a singer. So, she get to express the things that so many of us feel, but don’t know how to necessarily say and she says it for us.”

HL: In the film she talks about really painful things like feeling suicidal, molestation, domestic violence. How did you get her to open up?

Vanessa: “That really came from her. She’s an executive producer on this film as well and she wanted to tell that story. She wanted to give that to her fans. It was painful for her to revisit that time, but she was willing to because I think that’s just a testament to where she’s willing to go to places that aren’t comfortable in order to kind of excavate them.”

Mary J. Blige
Mary became a fashion and cultural icon, in addition to an R&B star when she burst on to the scene in the 1990s. (Courtesy of Amazon Studios)

HL: She was so open but was there anything that she refused to discuss?

Vanessa: “There’s a part of the film that we actually kept in the film. I did that on purpose. Where she says that, when she was writing the My Life album it brought back all this pain, including that she was molested as a child. And then she says in the interview, ‘And a lot of other things that I’m not going to discuss.’ I respected that. That’s for her to decide what she shares and doesn’t share and what stays private. I just respected those boundaries and that’s how we continued to have conversations.”

Mary J. Blige
Mary telling her story in the Amazon Prime film about her album, ‘My Life.’ (Courtesy of Amazon Studios)

HL: What surprised you the most about Mary’s story?

Vanessa: “The thing that struck me really the most about Mary’s story is something also that she says in the film, which we talked about a lot. This concept of, ‘I didn’t know I was me.’ This feeling that she didn’t feel successful, even with all the success of [her first album] What’s The 411? She was in her early 20s and she just had no self-love and she still was successful and still had her gift of singing and songwriting and being famous, making an impact. But it wasn’t really until she faced her own demons and pain – [to] go through that and heal that and connect with people – that she started to actually love herself.

Mary J. Blige
Mary singing to her devoted fans in a scene from the new documentary. (Courtesy of Amazon Studios)

“I think that concept of, ‘I didn’t know I was me,’ so many of us could relate [to]. Other people sometimes can see the gifts that you have and the talents you have before you see it or accept it yourself. Self-love might be easy to say, but it’s really hard to achieve. I just love that comment and I think about that a lot.”

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Court Nixes New Trial For ‘Making A Murderer’ Subject Avery

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By The Associated Press.

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals on Wednesday unanimously rejected a request by “Making a Murderer” subject Steven Avery to hold a hearing on new evidence that he wanted to present for a new trial.

Avery is serving a life sentence for the 2005 killing of photographer Teresa Halbach, a case that became the focus of a popular Netflix series whose creators raised questions about the convictions of Avery and his nephew, Brendan Dassey.

Avery attorney Kathleen Zellner asked the court to consider claims ranging from insufficient scientific evidence to ineffective trial counsel. That request had been rejected in 2017 without a hearing and Avery, in his latest appeal, had asked for a hearing or new trial to consider the evidence.

RELATED: Steven Avery Of ‘Making A Murderer’ Ends Engagment, Calls Ex-Fiancee ‘A Gold-Digger’

“Avery raises a variety of alternative theories about who killed Halbach and how,” the appeals court said. But it sided with attorneys for the state Department of Justice who argued the type of motion Avery filed is not the proper one to retry the case before a jury.

The appeals court said because Avery was appealing the lower court’s denial of a request for a new trial without holding an evidentiary hearing, the question before the appeals court was simply whether a hearing is warranted. It concluded that the lower court correctly rejected the call for a new trial without a hearing.

“We express no opinion about who committed this crime: the jury has decided this question, and our review is confined to whether the claims before us entitle Avery to an evidentiary hearing,” the appeals court said. “We conclude that the circuit court did not erroneously exercise its discretion.”

RELATED: Sneak Peek: ‘Dr. Phil’ To Interview ‘Making A Murderer’ Subject Steven Avery And His New Fiancee In TV Exclusive

Zellner, Avery’s attorney, tweeted that she was not deterred by the ruling.

“It pointed out the specific doors that are still open for Mr. Avery’s quest for freedom,” Zellner said. “We appreciate the careful review.”

Both Avery and Dassey maintain their innocence. The case gained national attention in 2015 after Netflix aired “Making a Murderer,” a multi-part documentary examining Halbach’s death. The series spawned conjecture about the pair’s innocence, but those who worked on the cases accused the filmmakers of leaving out key pieces of evidence and presenting a biased view of what happened. The filmmakers defended their work and supported calls to set Avery and Dassey free.

Dassey was 16 when he confessed to detectives he helped his uncle rape and kill Halbach at the Avery family’s salvage yard. A judge threw out the confession in 2016, ruling it was coerced by investigators using deceptive tactics. That ruling was later overturned by a federal appeals court and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear his case.

Avery has been fighting unsuccessfully for years to have his conviction overturned and to be granted a new trial.


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Roddy White, Julio Jones Sued by Cannabis Company, Accused of Fraud

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Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Tennessee Titans star Julio Jones (right) and former NFL wide receiver Roddy White (left) are among the defendants in a lawsuit filed by a cannabis company.

The former Atlanta Falcons teammates and their co-defendants are accused of alleged fraud and money laundering allegations, according to court papers obtained by the Tennessean.

Genetixs cannabis company claims that Jones, White and others sold around $3 million per month in cannabis since March and kept all the profits for themselves.

The lawsuit alleges the defendants illegally managed and operated Genetixs’ cannabis facility, and failed to report weed sales since March 2021.

Genetixs estimates about $3 million in cannabis was sold illegally by the defendants who then kept the profits for themselves.

According to the Tennessean newspaper:

“Jones and White, who were teammates with the Falcons from 2011 to 2015, are accused of colluding with John Van Beek and his son, Shaun Van Beek, to run a black-market cannabis operation through the Genetixs facility. Jones and White had invested in Genetixs through White’s SLW Holdings, per the documents.”

Posted in News

Tags: cannabis, embezzlement, Julio Jones, lawsuit, legalized weed, Roddy White

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Matt Damon’s Joke About Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez & Their ‘True Love’ Is Very Funny

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Matt Damon has been repeatedly asked about his BFF Ben Affleck getting back together with his ex fiancee Jennifer Lopez decades after they split in the early 2000s.

In his latest interview, Matt decided to answer with a pretty funny joke.

Click inside to read what Matt Damon said…

“It sucks. I wish them nothing, but you know, hardship,” Matt said while appearing on SiriusXM’s The Jess Cagle Show. “But how else would I be? Like, would I be unhappy? Like, I hate true love.”

Find out Matt‘s other reaction when asked about Jen and Ben‘s trip to Europe for her birthday celebration!


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