Mary J. Blige is a music superstar who isn't afraid of getting older.
"Age is all about falling in love with yourself again," says the star of "Rock of Ages." "I learned to fall in love with myself during the hard times of recovery when the world was against me.
"You have to hug yourself," she advises. "You have to go deep inside, so you walk outside with your head up. That's what I do every single day."
Blige is always a positive shot in the arm. How does she do it? "I know what people say about me doesn't matter. If it's something helpful, I'll pay attention. But I only pay attention to the positive things. You can't pay attention to the negative things or you will feel terrible about yourself.
"I do listen to the fans that say, 'Mary, with your music, you saved my life,'" she says.
Blige shows up for a breakfast interview at the Four Seasons Hotel in tight jeans, a tank top and a white gauzy shirt over it. She wears the most awesome, XL bright red, large oval glasses.
It's a toned down look from the strip club owner she plays in the new movie musical "Rock of Ages."
MARY J BLIGE ON INSPIRATION
She does this interview during a break from writing her new CD. Her music is extremely empowering to women.
"I'm 100 percent working on new lyrics," she says. "I was just working on a song that's really powerful.
"The message is instead of getting angry about what life is doing to you and what trial you're in, get your spiritual muscle working and get strong," she says. "I believe in life especially as women, we need to gather up strength to say thank you for everything.
"It's hard to say thank you when people have hurt you," she admits. "But you have to try."
I asked her how she has stayed alive in the cutthroat music business.
"It's called God. That's the secret. Without God, I would be dead," she says. "I would be finished if I didn't pray and know there is something better in this universe."
ROCK OF AGES STAR
Her character in "Rock of Ages" owns a strip club.
"She works in a strip club and has to be strong for all the other women. She has to be the light in a dark place and believe in herself," she says.
"She doesn't allow her environment to dictate who she is. She tells the other women, 'You're better than this. It's just a stop rest.'
One of perks of the movie was singing a favorite Journey song?
"I did love singing 'Any Way You Want It.' It was rock and roll in the '80s and MTV. It was also a message for this gentleman's club, where the motto is any way you want it," he says.
She got the role in a pure Hollywood way.
"The director Adam Shankman told me at Jennifer Lopez' housewarming party. He said, 'I'm going to put you in a movie.' Honestly, you don't pay attention to words like that because people in Hollywood just say stuff. But he actually called me and put me in a movie," she says.
HER FASHION LINE
What about rumors that Mary will have her own hip fashion line?
"A clothing line is something I'm thinking about," she says. "I really want to do it. I want to start with shoes and boots. My fans love me for my boots and shoes. They love my accessories."
She also has a popular fragrance called My Life Blossom available on HSN, plus a line of sunglasses called Melodies by MJB.
GETTING OLDER, NOT SLOWING DOWN
Mary admits that with age, she has toned it down...just a little bit.
"I don't party like I used to, but I did have my party like a rock star years. I still do have fun," she says.
"I go to dinner with my girlfriends. We laugh and we have drinks. Then we go home and go to bed. There is no more hanging out until 7 a.m. Your body just can't take it."
A LITTLE HELP FROM HER FEMALE FRIENDS..AND ONE SPECIAL GUY
She says that being a woman in the music business is tough.
"You're constantly trying to fight for your identity as a female artist. Everyone is not happy for you. People also just say yes to you about everything, which can be very bad for you. No one is telling you the truth.
"I try to be confident, so I can make better people choices. I'll say to someone, 'You're lying. Get out of here.' Or I'll say, 'I know who I am. So, get out of here.'"
Blige is married to record industry executive Martin Isaacs who is also her manager. They live quietly in LA and New Jersey.
How does she make a midlifer relationship work?
Blige, who is coming up on her tenth anniversary next year says, "In love and life just be real with people. It's also about really getting to know a person whether it's your husband or a friend.
"When you really get to know someone, you will be pleasantly surprised."