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    “People are mean,” she goes on. “The game plan is to prey on your insecurities and get you to feel so bad about yourself that you believe everything they’re saying about you. So now they have power. It’s all a game.”

    But you’re so accomplished, I tell her. What could Mary J. Blige possibly feel insecure about?

    “When people say that, I really don’t like it,” she says, not annoyed, but firm. “Because accomplished people are people too. We’re all just trying to be loved and accepted, maybe have a family one day. So, when we get tricked, you don’t even realize until you’re in the middle of it. There are a lot of manipulators out here.”

    Her Chinese chicken salad arrives, but she sends it back – too

    Two years ago, when Mary J. Blige moved to Beverly Hills from New York, she was full of hope. She had come to be an actress, to graduate from bit parts to serious roles, to launch a new career – being a world-renowned musical inspiration clearly not quite satisfying enough. And it worked. There is serious Oscar buzz about her role in Mudbound, a powerful period piece about race in the Deep South after Wwii.

    We’re at The Roof Garden in the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. Blige, 46, is dressed head to toe in black; taller and a lot more talkative, particularly about the tough stuff, than expected. While making Mudbound, she says, she was heartbroken. Her 13-year marriage to her former manager, Kendu Isaacs, collapsed when he fell for another woman. She filed for divorce in July 2016, and it has been far from an amicable process.

    “A lot of the things we do in a relationship are in the name of love,” says Blige. “You want to save it, so you do stupid stuff and give him what he wants, knowing you shouldn’t. You create a monster.

    Shirt by The Row;

    jeans by Mother;

    earrings by Ana Khouri;

    necklace and both

    rings by Yeprem; cuff by

    Suzanne Kalan

    Accomplished people are people too. We’re all just trying to be Loved and Accepted

    Words: Emma Sells. Fashion: Jessica Steuart. Photograph: Bruce Anderson

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