Mary J. Blige is continuing her transition into acting with a series regular role in Netflix's Umbrella Academy TV show. 2018 has already seen Netflix expand its sci-fi library in a big way, adding both Altered Carbon and The Cloverfield Paradox to its collection of Netflix Originals. The streaming service is also expanding its superhero and comic book-based content, even as Disney readies its streaming service to serve as the home for future streaming Marvel TV shows. Last year, Netflix bought Millarworld and plans to bring many of creator Mark Millar's comic titles to life. Netflix is similarly turning Gerard Way's critically acclaimed Umbrella Academy into a small screen series.
Following its debut in 2007, the Umbrella Academy comics garnered much in the way of critical acclaim and plans for a film adaptation were quickly set in motion, before ultimately falling by the wayside. Some years later, Netflix snatched up the rights for a TV adaptation and Ellen Page was cast as one of Umbrella Academy's leads. Now, another big name has been added to the TV show's acting ensemble.
THR is reporting that Mary J. Blige has joined Umbrella Academy as a series regular with a 1-year deal. She'll be playing Cha-Cha, a time-traveling assassin (who happens to be a male Neo-Nazi in the comics). The role will be the first recurring TV role for Blige, who's seen her prestige as an actor raised recently. Here's the official description of the character:
Blige will take on the role of Cha-Cha, a ruthless and unorthodox hit-woman who travels through time to kill assigned targets. Even though she has a few gripes about the bureaucracy of her employers, this job is her life. She is sadistic, sociopathic, and her reputation precedes her. Her true love is torture, and she thinks of herself as a "pain artist." She really doesn't care for people — except for her partner Hazel (uncast).
Cha-Cha, noted for his blue bear mask, and Hazel work for the Temps Aeternalis as time-traveling assassins. Their main mission in the books is to stop The Boy, one of the 7 family members that make up the Umbrella Academy. The role may be expanded (and altered quite a bit) for Blige, as THR reports that she was sought after by a number of in-development TV series before she signed on for Umbrella Academy.
Netflix may have won over Blige in part thanks to their previous experience together making the Dee Rees-directed Mudbound, which features Blige in an Oscar nominated supporting role. Blige was reportedly looking for a more action-driven TV show to cut her teeth on and Umbrella Academy should fit the bill, given the nature of her role on the series. Moreover, her involvement (coupled with Page's) will better help to sell the TV show to those who are unfamiliar with its comic book source material.
Umbrella Academy premieres on Netflix later this year.