On the show, she portrays the tough-as-nails matriarch Monét Tejada, mom of three young adult kids and an adoptive nephew holding down a crime empire while her husband Lorenzo serves a prison sentence.
As a character, the streetsmart queen pen Monét is known for having a very tough exterior, often treating her children like footsoldiers and drug-runners rather than her babies. Blige says she’s able to inform the hard shell of her character through some of her own personality traits.
“In my own life, I don’t like people yes-manning me. Tell me what it really, really is. I don’t care. Hurt my feelings, but save my life,” she says. “That’s basically what Monét is, to her children.”
Speaking of said children, Blige’s own real-life relationships with the co-stars that play her kids are quite a bit more nurturing than Monét’s.
“I love them, they’re so beautiful,” she says of her on-screen family. “Super talented as you can see, but they’re really beautiful people. Sometimes LaToya (Tonodeo, who plays her daughter Diana) will ask me questions, and we’ll talk. What I love about her is she isn’t afraid to ask and get the information, then apply it. Like ‘wow, she did it!’”
Blige says outside of the amazing strides her co-stars have made, she’s particularly excited for fans to see a somewhat softer side of Monét.
“Just [excited for fans] to see the twists and turns. Monét has like a little human side, she’s not just all monster,” she laughed. “She actually, is always ready to cheat and all that stuff is going on. She’s a little messy.”
Monét’s cheating habits tend to leave Blige in a bit of an uncomfortable situation, as the actress admits that intimate scenes are NOT exactly her cup of tea.
“My most challenging scenes period are just those love scenes. Having to kiss strange people, just – I hate it,” she says, frowning up. “But, we’re acting…I just have to remove Mary out of it because I hate strange people that I don’t know touching me and kissing me. So I have to really ACT. Or it’s going to look like this *cringes*”
Yet and still, Blige makes every scene she’s in look good. Aside from her skilled acting, that’s thanks in part to her head-to-toe drip in each episode. Monét notably stays designer-down and dressed to the nines, often rocking black catsuits, Valentino belts, and stiletto heels around the house at 10 a.m. As a style icon for the last three decades, Blige knows a thing or two about fashion and often weighs in with her own input on Monét’s costume choices.
“Let me give all the props to Frank (Fleming, costume designer for Ghost) the stylist who brings the most amazing things through for Monét that I actually want to keep some of it myself, of course,” she says of Monet’s signature style. “I help pick out, I’ll say ‘she’d wear this,’ or ‘she wouldn’t wear that.’”
Catch Mary J. Blige and the rest of her castmates when Power Book II: Ghost premieres on Sunday, November 21 on Starz.