Mary J. Blige overcame her fear of chickens while filming 'Mudbound'.

The 47-year-old singer-turned-actress stars as Florence Jackson in the new drama from Dee Rees - which follows the unlikely friendship between two men, one white and one black, as they find common ground after they return from World War Two.

In one scene, Blige has to pick up a live chicken, but she found it difficult after having a childhood phobia of the flightless bird.

Speaking to Deadline, she said: ''There were shots where I just had to stand out in the rain and pick up that chicken over and over again. It was beautiful. Once I picked it up, that phobia was gone. It was like, 'Oh, I'm not afraid of anything now.''

Blige has now made history by becoming the first person to ever be nominated for an Oscar for an acting performance and for an original song in a single year, and she admitted she didn't ''anticipate'' any of it.

'The Sweet Thing' singer is up for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in 'Mudbound', whilst her track 'Mighty River' is listed in the Best Original Song category.

She said: ''I didn't anticipate any of this. I just knew I was part of a very powerful, important film, and I was happy to be a part of it.''

Director Rees has also been nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Academy Award this year marking the first time ever that a black woman has been recognised in that category, as well as Rachel Morrison becoming the first female cinematographer being tipped for an award.

And following the sexual harassment revelations that rocked Hollywood last year, Blige is thrilled ''progress is happening''.

She said: ''I think that it takes tragedy to make people move and stand up, and right now, in these dark and awful time we're living in, it's causing people to stand up, and it's causing a light to be shined on everything. People are speaking, women are being set free, women are standing up for their rights, and it's beautiful to see us being looked at as equals. It's happening. Progress is happening. The process is happening.''