Director of 'Mudbound' opens up about her 'personal history' in the powerful new film

Dee Rees opened up about her new film in an interview with ABC News' Robin Roberts, saying, "I wanted to interject my own personal history into it."
3:50 | 12/26/17

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Transcript for Director of 'Mudbound' opens up about her 'personal history' in the powerful new film
powerful new movie starring Mary J. Blige getting Oscar buzz. "Mudbound" tells the story of two families struggling in the south after World War II and Dee Rees sat down with us talking about how the message still resonates today. You use the back door. Reporter: "Mudbound" is a powerhouse drama that strikes a nerve. Two young soldiers return home after fighting in World War II to work on the farm in rural Mississippi. You just come back. I will. You come all the way back. Reporter: Singer/songwriter Mary J. Blige delivers a powerful performance as Florence, a mother whose quiet grit guides her family in the treacherous world of the segregated south in this moving film directed by Dee Rees. I read somewhere that you said you don't normally love when you read something for the first time. Yeah. I think this one was different, why? The original version was by a writer named Virgil Williams and just from page one there's the character, there's the action like the pacing of it. I think I Calley agent on page 5, yeah, I'm going to do this one. You got to tell us about this beautiful journal. Your grandmother's journal and how it is a part of the film. Absolutely. Yes. So approaching "Mudbound" I really wanted to put my own personal history into it and my grandmother detailed her life and so she drew like floor plans of like the cabins and like inventories of what was in the cabins and so just felt like it really placed me and placed department heads in that let me get to some of the pictures. Nye great great grandparents that were slaves. You can see the strength in their eyes. Other characters, other actors, were they able to bring some of their personal experiences to the film? Absolutely. So Jason Mitchell plays ronzell and his Graf served in the Korean war. Mary J. Blige, I didn't realize until doing the film she had southern connections so all my cast Wene able to bring their personal experience to the story and kind of inject that kind of ancestry into it which I loved. They're all great actors but you're thinking, no, this is personal. Yeah. And it comes through in the film in when you're able to bring authenticity and that kind of kernel of truth like I think actors can use that tofind that crack into a character and once they've found the crack it's like the director with a wedge and a hammer to sink deeper and deeper and Mary J. Blige disappears as Florence. How was it for you, Mary J. Blige. I'm nervous and Mary walks in. I realize, okay, she's nervous too. This is why we need to see different people in the role that you're in because of your experiences, because of your talent that you bring to it that we might not see from someone who doesn't look like you. I think directors should take on material because they have a specific take or because they're uniquely suited to tell a story. It wasn't just you but a lot of women were involved. Yeah. In this. Exactly, yeah, I mean for this we have six women department heads because they just really, you know, are the best at what they do so it's not tokenism but if you see a woman on set you know she knows her stuff because she beat other 50 others to be will. What do you hope someone watching this will come away with. I hope they come away with this idea of inheritance and not our physical inheritance but interrogating the belie and ideas ha have come down to us and I want to keep telling stories that are meaningful to me and interesting, tangled up relationships like life. Mu"mudbound," check it out now.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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