Mary J. Blige Reveals How Playing Malcolm X's Wife Inspired Her

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Mary J. Blige

“These women were going through some horrible trials, and they were so strong," said Blige, who stars in Lifetime's "Betty & Coretta" opposite Angela Bassett as Martin Luther King Jr.'s widow.

Mary J. Blige hopes to shed light on the story of two women who stood behind powerful men in Lifetime’s upcoming movie Betty & Coretta.

The film focuses on the struggles and sisterhood of two women -- Dr. Betty Shabazz (Blige) and Coretta Scott King (Angela Bassett) -- who became single mothers after their husbands, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., were assassinated.

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Blige told reporters in a conference call that she used the intimidation of acting alongside Bassett to burn and grow from watching her. While developing her role, Blige connected the most with Shabazz’s character in how she stayed strong as both a wife and mother to support the family.

“These women were going through some horrible trials, and they were so strong," said Blige. “You have to be strong in trial, stand by your relationships and your friends, love them through and don’t give up.”

Blige makes her executive producing debut on the movie with her co-executive producer and husband, Kendu Isaacs. Civil rights activist Ruby Dee narrates the telefilm.

Blige hopes that Betty & Coretta will help to recognize the women who have become strong female role models in society.

"Just like lot of women that are involved with powerful men, they never get a chance to see from their prospective what their lives are and what was going on, but they’re getting it now," said Blige. “It's good for Coretta that she stepped out and she made Martin's voice heard; she made her own voice heard, and so did Betty.”

Betty & Coretta premieres at 8 p.m. Saturday on Lifetime.