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Soul songstress Mary J. Blige’s career is picking up quite a bit of steam these days as she flips the switch from singing to acting.  Blige has been struck by drama fever, landing the role of Dr. Betty Shabazz in the upcoming TV film “Parallel Lives.”

The film is set to portray the lives of Dr. Shabazz and Coretta Scott King, and the relationship they shared as the wives of two slain civil rights icons.

Blige recently told WENN that she has been delving into her latest role. “I’m playing Betty and prepping for that now. I’ve been studying her online and watching her interviews.”

The Grammy Award winner cut her film acting chops in the 2009 Tyler Perry movie, “I Can Do Bad All By Myself.”  She currently has a role opposite such co-stars as Tom Cruise and Alec Baldwin in the upcoming film “Rock of Ages” which hits the big screen on June 15.

Last year, Blige made the decision to hone her craft, so she actually embarked upon taking acting lessons.  She armed herself with a dialect coach, acting coach, piano coach, and loaded up her ammunition so that she’d be more than ready to take on any future acting endeavors with confidence.

Blige is also set to play the blues legend Nina Simone in an upcoming biopic as well.

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Even though Blige has the fame and following, she does not for one minute want any role handed to her because of who she is without working for it.  She was recently interviewed by talk show host Chelsea Handler on her show “Chelsea Lately” about working hard at her craft:

“Even though I was given the part in ‘Rock of Ages,’ I wanted to prepare myself so I went to work for it,” said Blige. “I just didn’t want to get the part because I was Mary J. Blige.  I went and did the work, I got an acting coach.”

“Parallel Lives” will begin filming in September.

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