Mo’Nique Claims She Was Blackballed By Hollywood After Winning Oscar
In the years since actress and comedienne Mo’Nique won an Academy Award for her role as the very malicious and abusive Mary in Precious, we’ve watched her slim down substantially and embrace a healthier lifestyle. But that’s all we’ve really watched her do, because she hasn’t had a big role on-screen since that Oscar win in 2009.
She has literally been in four movies since Precious came out: Steppin: The Movie, Blackbird (alongside Isaiah Washington), About and the TV movie Bessie, starring Queen Latifah, which is about the life of blues singer Bessie Smith. But why haven’t we seen her do anything else? According to the actress, and even Lee Daniels, the force behind Precious, it’s because Mo’Nique has been “blackballed” in the industry.
In an essay written for an upcoming issue of The Hollywood Reporter, she says that after her Oscar win, she thought the little gold man would bring her more respect, better choices for roles and more money, which it usually does. But because she didn’t campaign for her Oscar, and was cited as being somewhat “difficult” to work with, Mo’Nique says that Lee Daniels told her just a few months ago that she had been excluded in the industry.
“I got a phone call from Lee Daniels…And he said to me, ‘Mo’Nique, you’ve been blackballed.’ I said, ‘Why?’ And he said, ‘Because you didn’t play the game.’ I said, ‘Well, what game is that?’ He gave me no response.”
Campaigning for an Oscar is a pretty big deal when you’re trying to not only get recognition for a film, but want to see the effects of what happens when the film, or its actors, win (aka, a boost in ticket sales and notoriety). While most studios spend a great deal of money to campaign during awards season, according to Deadline, actors should be campaigning too:
Increasingly, the personal touch has become really helpful. If you have an actor who can plant him- or herself in Los Angeles and/or New York to do meet-and-greets during crucial voting periods, you have a better shot of making an impact. I have talked to many weary nominees at the end of the long process who have shaken so many hands, attended so many dinners, done so many Q&As and talk shows and receptions…
But Mo’Nique didn’t during the 2009-2010 awards season. When she won her Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Role, she even said in her acceptance speech that she was thankful that the Academy showed “that it can be about the performance and not the politics.” That, along with the actress claiming that people behind-the-scenes have called her “difficult,” “tactless” and “tacky,” has held her back. And interesting enough, according to her, those who claim she is difficult, tactless and tacky are “probably right.” But still, she’s not letting all that hold her back.
“That is why I have my beautiful husband because he’s so full of tact. I’m just a girl from Baltimore. But being from that place, you learn not to let anybody take advantage of you.”
Since coming to this realization, Mo’Nique says she’s learned not to take this whole game the bigwigs in Hollywood play personally, even after losing roles in The Butler, “Empire,” and Lee Daniels’ upcoming Richard Pryor biopic, roles which she says “all just went away.” But for his part in this, Daniels sent out a statement to The Hollywood Reporter saying that he still has love for the actress, but that the powers that be didn’t want her involved in such projects…
“Mo’Nique is a creative force to be reckoned with. Her demands through Precious were not always in line with the campaign. This soured her relationship with the Hollywood community. I consider her a friend. I have and will always think of her for parts that we can collaborate on, however the consensus among the creative teams and powers thus far were to go another way with these roles.”
It’s a jungle out here…especially in Hollywood. Despite being blackballed, Mo’Nique is slated to appear alongside Isaiah Washington in the upcoming film, BlackBird, which debuts April 24.
You can check out Mo’Nique’s full open letter in the new issue of The Hollywood Reporter when it drops on Feb. 27.