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The R&B songstress opened up about her own experience in the entertainment industry.

In a roundtable discussion for The Hollywood Reporter, Mary J. Blige joined actresses Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Stone, Jessica Chastain, Allison Janney, and Saoirse Ronan to discuss sexual harassment in Hollywood. When asked about her thoughts about the staggering number of sexual assault headlines stamped across the media, Blige expressed sadness, yet relief, that women have come forward with their stories. The musician then shared her own personal experience trying to protect herself from sexual harassment, which stemmed from experiencing abuse in her childhood up until adulthood. When Blige first entered the music business, she made the conscious decision to try to avoid assault by altering her appearance.

“Well, in the [music] industry, I never had that problem. I was always kind of a tomboy and one of the guys. I feel sad for the women, but I’m happy that they’re free because they had to hold on to a secret for years,” says Blige.

She continued on discussing her choice to dress like a tomboy early in her career, stating,

“Because I’ve been through so much as a child and a teenager, I just wore baggier jeans and Timberlands and hats turned backward. It took me a very long time to even wear makeup and tight clothes because I had been through so much. And those secrets I still have to deal with. So hopefully these women are free, because it hurts.”

Mary J. Blige will be playing the role of Florence Jackson in the film Mudbound, which is premiering on Netflix and select theaters on Friday, November 17. Directed by Dee Rees, Mudbound follows the story of two families; one black, one white, residing in racist rural Mississippi, trying to maneuver their way through the World War II era, confronting “the brutal realities of prejudice, farming and friendship.”

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