For her SAG Award-nominated role in Mudbound, Mary J. Blige drew on her own early experiences.

“To get into character for Florence, what I did was I remembered my childhood,” the actress told EW. “I remembered going down south every summer and seeing my grandparents have their own farms and I used a lot of my own personal life, hard times, and challenges to put into Florence.”

Blige plays Florence Jackson in the racially charged southern tragedy. Based on the novel of the same name by Hillary Jordan, Florence serves as the family matriarch and a farm worker who, along with her husband, dreams of owning land one day in the face of a world rife with oppression, fear, and enforced silence.

In addition to her past experiences, Blige cited the the clothes, shoes, and “mud everywhere” for helping to get her into character, admitting the whole experience was “humbling”.

“I don’t think there was any happy days shooting,” recalled the actress and singer. “Some days it’s easier to go home and leave the character behind and some days it’s hard because the shots were hard, the scenes were hard.” She pointed to a scene where her character’s son is hung up naked and disgraced as one of the toughest to work through.

Blige is nominated for a SAG Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role for her role in Mudbound. The 24th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, hosted by Kristen Bell, will be simulcast live on TNT and TBS from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, Sunday, Jan. 21 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT.

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