Queen Latifah and Mary J. Blige spoke to the magic of “The Wiz Live!,” airing December 3rd 8/7c on NBC, when I asked them about its longevity.
What’s so special about “The Wiz” and what was your first introduction to it?
QUEEN LATIFAH: It was the first Broadway play that I ever saw. My mom took me there as a kid. I don’t know how she hustled up these tickets. I know money was tight, but she managed to get some tickets and took us to see it and I was blow away. I was amazed by it. It just changed my whole mind frame. Seeing a story that I was familiar with and told through the lens of people who look like me, African American, it felt more relatable.
It felt like a place where Oz just wasn’t a fantasyland, but a place I could go. A place that made me feel something different than any place else and seeing Stephanie Mills perform, I was with her. I took this ride along with her. It made me feel like I could do this. So I became more inclined to audition for the school plays and really see it as a real possibility, something that I wanted to maybe do in my life. It definitely changed and shifted my mind in a big way.
MARY J. BLIGE: The Wiz means so much to me. It’s the only reason why I am here because it changed my life, too. As a kid, growing up in the inner cities, it’s hard to leave. But when you see Michael Jackson and Diana Ross, who are both the untouchables and the biggest entertainers of our time, it makes you think that you can do it too because it’s Michael Jackson and he’s the Scarecrow. So it gave me hope. It inspired me, it encouraged me.
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