Mo’Nique Claims She Was Blackballed From the Industry After Oscar Win
Could an Oscar actually be detrimental to one’s career? Well, if you’re a Best Supporting Actress winner, perhaps.
Mo’Nique is supposedly the latest victim of “the Best Supporting Actress curse,” a myth that suggests that many of the actresses who win the coveted prize have seen their careers in free-fall after their big win. To be precise, Mo’Nique believes she was blackballed from the industry after she won Best Supporting Actress for her performance in 2009’s Precious.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Mo’Nique responded to the expectations that surround an Academy Award, saying, “What I understood was that when I won that Oscar, things would change in all the ways you’re saying: It should come with more respect, more choices and more money. It should, and it normally does.”
However, it soon became apparent that politics were preventing her ascension in Hollywood. Mo’Nique recounts an unsettling phone call from her Precious director Lee Daniels, in which he told her that the reason she stopped getting parts was because she failed to “play the game” — presumably the game of Hollywood politicking, although he never actually clarified to Mo’Nique just what in the hell he meant. Mo’Nique recalls, “I got a phone call from Lee Daniels maybe six or seven months ago. And he said to me, ‘Mo’Nique, you’ve been blackballed.’ And I said, ‘I’ve been blackballed? Why have I been blackballed?’ And he said, ‘Because you didn’t play the game.’ And I said, ‘Well, what game is that?’ And he gave me no response.”
Mo’Nique goes on to reveal that Daniels had initially offered her the role of Gloria Gaines in The Butler, a part that eventually went to Oprah Winfrey. She was also approached to be a part of Empire, the show which Lee Daniels executive produces. In addition, she was offered the part of Richard Pryors’ grandmother in Daniels’ upcoming Pryor biopic. ALL of these offers were eventually rescinded, and Mo’Nique is still struggling to figure out why, exactly.
Her theory? Mo’Nique believes she was the victim of rumors that she was difficult to work with.
“There have been people that have said, ‘Mo’Nique, she can be difficult. Mo’Nique and her husband can be difficult.’ They could probably be right. One of the networks said to [Lee] that I was ‘really difficult to work with.’ And I said, ‘Well, that’s funny, because I’ve never even worked with them, but OK.'”
She continues: “Whoever those people are who say, ‘Mo’Nique is difficult,’those people are either heartless, ruthless or treat people like they’re worthless. And that’s unacceptable. They’re set to say, ‘Mo’Nique is tactless, she’s tacky.’ That’s why I have my beautiful husband, because he’s so full of tact, ’cause I’m a girl from Baltimore. I come from a blue-collar town — and being from that place, you learn not to let anybody take advantage of you. You don’t let people mistreat you. You stand up for what’s right.”
Ultimately, Mo’Nique does her best to make sense of it all, even though it’s a situation that, by its very nature, doesn’t make much sense to begin with. Perhaps it had something to do with her Oscar speech, in which she thanked the Academy “for showing that it can be about the performance and not the politics.” A statement like that could have rubbed Hollywood the wrong way, since the implication is that Hollywood is a machine driven less by talent than by politics. Of course, in blackballing Mo’Nique, they’ve sort of proved her point, even if she’s still a bit fuzzy on why she’s been getting the cold shoulder from the industry.
“So I can’t answer why he said I was blackballed. There may be people that feel that way about me. But I respect everyone, from the homeless brother and sister on the street to the executive that sits in the highest office named President Barack Obama. I respect everyone — but we over-respect no one.”
Mo’Nique is incredibly talented, and if this is true, it’s pretty infuriating. It’s bad enough that women have a hard time finding good roles without being ostracized for no apparent reason. Hopefully, this interview will let Hollywood know that whatever rumors they’re hearing about Mo’Nique aren’t true, and that she’s still very much in the Hollywood picture, and is more than willing to work.