How Mary J Blige immortalised Cha-Cha in ‘The Umbrella Academy’
(Credit: Netflix)

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How Mary J Blige immortalised Cha-Cha in 'The Umbrella Academy'

We’re taking a look back at one of Mary J Blige’s stunning acting credits as she took on the noticeably wonderful character of Cha-Cha from The Umbrella Academy.

Netflix’s popular show The Umbrella Academy was adapted from the eponymous graphic novel by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba. Created in 2019 by Steve Blackman and Jeremy Slater, starring Elliot Page, Cameron Britton, Tom Hopper, Justin H. Min and more, the show revolves around a dysfunctional family who finds themselves fighting against worldly villains. They fight these superhero-esque battles while dealing with an increasing number of daddy issues and other family conflicts.

After ending the second season on a cliffhanger where their failed attempts to prevent an apocalypse leads to the complete elimination of the timeline unique to them, resulting in the arrival of their alter-egos from a different reality, the highly-anticipated third season is on its way. 

Touted as the queen of hip-hop soul, Grammy-winner Mary Jane Blige, who has often displayed her incredible acting chops in films like Mudbound, was a part of the Netflix series as one of the main season one antagonists, Cha-Cha. Alongside her partner-in-crime Hazel, she is one of the psychotic and vicious villains appointed by a time-travelling organisation called the Temps Aeternalis, aiming to eliminate those who try and change the timeline. Cha-Cha has been gender-swapped in the series with Hazel as Cha-Cha is originally a man in the graphic novel. The masks, too, are swapped where Blige’s Cha-Cha wears a pink mask while Britton’s Hazel dons a blue one. 

Blige’s performance as Cha-Cha was well-appreciated among fans, with some proclaiming her as their favourite character from season one. With her incredible stamina, strength, durability and bloodlust, Cha-Cha is cunning, vile and pretty aggressive in contrast with her partner who would rather lead a more laid back life.

Cha-Cha meets a grim ending in the series right as she tries to prevent Number 5 from altering the timeline. She is allegedly consumed by the apocalyptic flames that result from Vanya Hargreeves hurling a huge chunk of the moon towards the earth. Although she did not make an appearance in season two, fans have not given up hope of a new Cha-Cha cameo, given her time-travelling skills and the ability of comic book-verse to resuscitate and revive any popular character. 

While Way and Ba’s version of Cha-Cha’s fate was much different from that of Blige’s character, whose fatal end came in the form of a cataclysmic event, the cliffhanger seemed pretty effective as she has cemented her place among fans as a badass female antagonist. While fans were excited and shocked to see Blige in the role, the singer-actress revealed what made her choose such a character that partook in high-strung and intense action sequences and chaotic madness. 

Blige told EW, “The reason why she drew me to the role was that she represented something I’ve never done, but I always wanted to do: I’ve always wanted to play bats—. I’ve always wanted to play someone with no emotion, who didn’t care about anything, who’s just murder, murder, murder. All-business, never wavering. I’ve always wanted to learn martial arts, I always wanted to shoot all different kinds of firearms, and I did exactly that. That’s what drew me to the role.”  

Blige had trained herself in martial arts before the show began production in Toronto, Canada. Her involvement was conditional- she wanted to be able to perform all the stunts on her own to add authenticity to the character of Cha-Cha with whom she resonated on a different level altogether. Blige even spoke about her character’s violent, sociopathic tendencies and unfeeling nature where she only cares about Hazel who helps her murder. 

Blige’s brilliant performance helped bring a crucial character in the graphic novel to life and how, immortalising her iconic villainous role Undoubtedly, she had fun playing that role, and as fans, we cannot help but wish for her to make a surprise comeback on the show sometime soon to terrorise the Hargreeves family yet again with her cold, sassy demeanour. 

Read everything about the upcoming third season of The Umbrella Academy here