EXCLUSIVE: Soul singer Mary J. Blige has joined the cast of Dee Rees’ Mudbound alongside Jason Mitchell, Jason Clarke, Garrett Hedlund and Carey Mulligan. The project, which starts filming soon in New Orleans, follows two men returning home from World War II to work on a farm in rural Mississippi. Once there, they struggle to deal with racism and adjust to postwar life.

Cassian Elwes, Charles King, Kim Roth, Sally Jo Effenson Chris Lemole, Tim Zajaros and Carl Effenson are producing. Poppy Hanks exec produces. Macro, the media entity established in 2015 by former WME partner King to create premium content for African-American, Latino and multicultural audiences, will co-finance with Zeal. Good Universe is selling foreign rights. Virgil Williams (Criminal Minds) has written the screenplay, an adaptation of Hillary Jordan’s 2008 novel. 

The peerless Blige, with global album sales in excess of 50 million, was ranked by Billboard as the most successful R&B singer of the past 25 years. She has acted before, starring in Tyler Perry’s 2009 hit I Can Do Bad All by Myself and also appearing in Rock of Ages as well as strong turn as Dr. Betty Shabazz in Lifetime’s Betty and Coretta. Most recently she appeared in an ep of Fox’s Empire and also starred as Evillene, the Wicked Witch of the West, in the TV special The Wiz Live! She is repped by CAA, who brokered the deal, and K.I. Management.