All Articles Tagged "lee daniels"

Like “New York Undercover,” It’s The Music That Makes “Empire” A Hit

March 25th, 2015 - By Charing Ball
Share to Twitter Email This

New York Undercover soundtrack

There has been a lot of talk as of late when it comes to what is troubling about Empire, but let’s talk for a second about what makes the series such a hit.

For one, there’s Lee Daniels.

It’s true that Daniels is a very polarizing figure. And it’s also true that his politics are a little (make that a lot) suspect. But Daniels is also a very brave director who isn’t scared to push boundaries within his work. And you have to give him credit for not being scared to go there, even in spite of criticism, particularly from those within the Black community who are highly protective of our image (and rightfully so). Although I wasn’t a huge fan of Precious and found it to even be a bit perverse and twisted, I would be lying if I said that the film wasn’t entertaining. That is the thing about Daniels: if you don’t read too much into him or his work (and if he doesn’t try to take himself too seriously), you can just have a good time with it.

This boundary-pushing style is a central part of what makes Empire work. The first season, which wrapped last week, didn’t give viewers time to catch their breath before dropping one bomb after another on them. Even Sherlock Holmes couldn’t figure out where Daniels was going with the plot (and trust, many of us tried in vain to figure it out).

But outside of Daniels knowing how to deliver envelope-pushing plots, Empire is all about pop culture. The series is full of secret nods to pop culture references of the past that may have inspired the series.

For instance, there’s the Kehinde Wiley paintings in Lucious’ mansion. They’re mostly depictions of young Black men in contemporary gear posed as European royalty, military leaders and other noblemen and women. I’m not trying to get all deep here, but clearly that’s a hat tip to the show’s Shakespearean inspiration. And then there is Jamal’s ex-wife, Olivia, played by Raven-Symoné. The character has the same exact name as the character Symoné portrayed on The Cosby Show. And then there is Cookie and Luscious, who truly aren’t anything more than a reworked version of DJay and Shug from Hustle & Flow. Oh, and how can we forget about Malik Yoba?

Aside from playing the conniving (and now dead) Vernon Turner on Empire, Yoba also starred in another popular Fox drama: New York Undercover. He played J.C. Williams, an undercover detective in New York City’s 4th Precinct who was assigned to investigate various crimes and gang-related cases.

Last year marked the 20th anniversary of that show. As far as I know, both shows have no direct connection, other than being on Fox and including Yoba; but clearly Daniels has taken a few pages out of the urban drama’s handbook. For those too young to remember, New York Undercover was the hip-hop equivalent of Law & Order. In fact, the individual behind the popular show was Law & Order creator and producer Dick Wolf.

In spite of having different themes (Empire is about a family-owned record company while New York Undercover was a police drama), there are some striking similarities in how both shows went about appealing to viewers; in particular, through the use of hip-hop music and famous guest stars.

Just as Empire has Timbaland, New York Undercover used to have its own popular music director: James Mtume. The music legend has written and produced hits for the likes of Mary J. Blige, Roberta Flack, and Donnie Hathaway, and was in the group Mtume. The producer not only made sure to fill each episode with hip-hop and R&B songs that were popular at the time, but artists like Boyz II Men, Chaka Khan, New Edition and The Notorious B.I.G. appeared on the series. These stars performed during the final scenes at Natalie’s, which was a fictional bar owned by Gladys Knight (who also appeared on early episodes of the hit series). The combination of music and guest appearances, along with a halfway decent plot, made the series a top hit among black households.

Season one of Empire has followed a similar framework by making music a pivotal part of the show. The series’ soundtrack, which features tracks sung by cast members, including “No Apologies” and “Drip Drop,” just beat Madonna’s new album, Rebel Heart, for the number one spot on the Billboard 200. Likewise, Daniels has included a number of well-known actors and entertainers as guest stars on the show, including Courtney Love, Naomi Campbell, Jennifer Hudson and Patti LaBelle. The guest appearances have become such an important draw for the series that Daniels is already hyping up a wish list for next season that includes Oprah Winfrey and Denzel Washington. Actors are apparently even pining to get a spot on the show.

Like New York Undercover, keeping abreast of popular culture, including the music, has made Empire a rating’s juggernaut. Hopefully the show won’t make the same tragic mistake that its musical urban drama predecessor did by cutting the musical guest appearances and performances from the show in favor of a more straight-laced feel (a choice that was inspired by contract disputes, which also inspired cast changes). When that happened, New York Undercover had a hard time retaining the interest of viewers and began to dip in ratings until it was ultimately canceled after a dismal fourth season.

I could see the same thing happening for Empire down the line if Fox isn’t careful. Even with all of the crazy drama, both the music and the guest appearances play a huge role in the show’s appeal. However, Empire may have a fighting chance as long as Daniels and co-creator Danny Strong stay the course and continue to keep throwing any and everything shocking they can against the writer’s wall.

“He Was Heated”: Mo’Nique And Lee Daniels Got In An Argument After She Didn’t Thank Him In Oscar Speech

March 6th, 2015 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
Share to Twitter Email This
TMZ

TMZ

I’m not sure where all the back-and-forth between Mo’Nique and Lee Daniels is going to go (as in, what’s the end game?), but at this point, it’s getting messy. One minute she was telling us that he told her Hollywood blackballed her, then he tells us that her demands caused her to get blackballed, then she’s claiming that her demands weren’t even over-the-top, and now she’s saying that at the end of the day, it seems like Daniels is the one who really has an issue with her. That would actually make sense, considering that all the opportunities she was dropped from recently were his projects. Well, in a chat with TMZ, Mo’Nique kept this whole thing going and said that things went a bit left in their working relationship after she failed to thank him during her Oscar speech after winning “Best Supporting Actress” for Precious.

She started the interview by speaking on that initial conversation they had about being blackballed, but this time, she shared that a jab was taken at her husband/manager, Sidney Hicks.

“There was more of a conversation in reference to why Fox didn’t want me to play this character because he said, ‘they said you’re difficult.’ I said, ‘Lee why would you tell them that? You and I have never had any situations.’ And then he said, ‘Mama, you’ve been blackballed.’ I said ‘Well why have I been blackballed?’ He said, ‘because you didn’t play the game. And I said ‘Well what game is that?’ He never answered. And then he said, ‘Well, your husband is outbidding you…'”

From there, Mo’Nique shared that she thinks Daniels has had an issue with her since she failed to show him love during her Oscar’s speech. According to her, that really upset him.

“We had a conversation after the Oscars and he was heated. He said, ‘How could you not say my name at the Oscars?’ As I said to Mr. Daniels in reference to the award, ‘The only reason why, brother, I did not say your name,’ and I said it all the other times from the Golden Globes on, you can pull it up, ‘is because so many people were involved in that amazing project, it would have been unfair to just say your name.'”

When asked why she’s been so vocal about this situation in the media and gone up against Daniels and the folks at Fox, the actress said she wouldn’t have felt right if she kept quiet.

“You know what would give me pause, Harvey? To be silent.”

 

“We Never Offered Her The Part”: “Empire” Co-Creator Says Mo’Nique Is Mistaken, And That She Was Never Asked To Play Cookie

March 3rd, 2015 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
Share to Twitter Email This
WENN

WENN

Ever since Mo’Nique revealed that Lee Daniels told her she had been blackballed in Hollywood for being too difficult, the whole story has turned into a messy game of he said, she said. Daniels told Don Lemon that Mo’Nique was blackballed due to the demands she was making, demands he didn’t really elaborate on:

“…we were on the campaign, she was making unreasonable demands, and I remember thinking ‘this is when reverse racism happens’. You have to thank the producers of the film, you have to thank the studio, and I think she didn’t understand that. People aren’t going to respond well if you don’t. I love her, I’ve spoken to her. She’s brilliant, and I like working with brilliant people but sometimes artists get in their own way.”

But Mo’Nique responded by saying it was the studio that was making unreasonable demands, not her:

“Actually, there were no demands. There was a request from the movie studio, and they called and requested that I fly to France for the Cannes Film Festival. I simply said, ‘I respectfully decline.’ Because if you can remember at the time there was a talk show called, ‘The Mo’Nique Show,’ I was doing a comedy tour, I was actually in the awards season of the awards, and I’m also a wife and I’m a mommy. So when they called, I had a couple of days just down time, I wanted to spend that with my husband and my kids.”

On top of debunking Lee Daniels’ claims that she made some over-the-top demands, Mo’Nique also claimed that one of the roles she lost due to Hollywood politics was the opportunity to play Cookie on “Empire.” She told “Inside Edition” that this was the way things went down with Daniels:

“When he called me up, he offered me a role on ‘Empire’ as Cookie. He sent over the sides, he said ‘listen, they want to do a screen test with you.’ I said ‘no problem!’ Maybe four days had gone by, and I hadn’t heard anything. So I’m trying to reach out to him to say, what time do I need to be in? Where do I need to be? When he finally returned the call, he says ‘listen, the executives at Fox said that you’re difficult.'”

But “Empire” co-creator and actor, Danny Strong, says that Mo’Nique is mistaken. In a chat with the good folks at “Sway in the Morning,” he claimed that she was never offered the role because Taraji P. Henson was always the actress they wanted to go with.

“We discussed Mo’Nique once very briefly. We never offered her the part. She wasn’t going to be Cookie.”

Strong would later try and do damage control by tweeting that “Mo’Nique is so talented she’d be great in almost anything. But Cookie was always Taraji.”

Yesterday, Mo’Nique responded but refrained from pettiness. She let her followers know that no matter what is going on with her and Daniels, and even with Strong, everyone should support the show.

 

MoNique

“It’s Sad:” Gabourey Sidibe Weighs In On Lee Daniels-Mo’Nique Drama

March 3rd, 2015 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
Share to Twitter Email This
WENN

WENN

As the drama between Lee Daniels and Mo’Nique continues to drag on, more is being revealed about the circumstances that led to the Oscar-winning actress being “blackballed” or low balled, as she put it. She’s now claiming that Daniels is actually the one who tried to blacklist her.

“People were saying, ‘Someone needs to teach Mo’Nique a lesson because she’s not playing the game, and she’s gonna get in her own way of winning this award, because it seems like she’s choosing her family over Hollywood. I don’t think Hollywood has turned his nose up to me. I think that those are feelings that Mr. Daniels is having,” the mother of four told Good Morning America.

“And then he said, ‘You know, there were things that Mo’Nique — she didn’t thank the producers and she didn’t thank the studio, and that’s just not things that you do.’ Well, it had nothing to do with the producers, nor the studio. Mr. Daniels had a problem that I didn’t say his name the night of the Oscar awards.”

Mo’s Precious co-star Gabourey Sidibe also broke her silence on the controversy.

gabourey

 

It’s currently unclear which party Gabby feels is being dishonest. While this seems to be getting quite ugly, Mo’Nique says she’d be open to working with Daniels again. Go figure.

Follow Jazmine on Twitter @JazmineDenise

Mo’Nique Shoots Down Lee Daniels’ Claims That She Was Blackballed For Being Difficult [Watch]

February 27th, 2015 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
Share to Twitter Email This
CNN

CNN

Earlier this week, Precious director Lee Daniels spoke to CNN about why he believes that Mo’Nique has experienced difficulty securing work following her Oscar win. According to Daniels, the actress got in her own way.

“What I said to her was–we were on the campaign and she was making unreasonable demands,” Daniels told Don Lemon. “I think that there were demands that were made from her on the ‘Precious’ campaign that everyone knows about, that hurt her. And I told her that.”

Yesterday, Mo responded to Daniels during a separate chat with Lemon and she seems to disagree with her friend’s perception of her situation.

“It shocked me… I was yelling at the screen, ‘Don, please ask him what the demands were!’” she said of Daniels’ interview. “There were no demands, there was a request from the movie studio that I fly to France for the Cannes Film Festival. I simply said, ‘I respectfully decline.’”

According to the actress, she declined because she only had a few days of “downtime” and she wanted to be home with her family.

“When they called, I had a couple of days downtime and I wanted to spend that with my husband and my kids,” she explained.

She went on to say that Lionsgate continued to pressure her, and after they called for the third time asking what it was going to take to get her to the festival, her husband and manager asked: “Is there a number associated with it?”

They, of course, said no, as actors aren’t usually paid to promote films that they’re in.

“What people didn’t know was that I was paid $50,000 to do the movie ‘Precious.’ It really wasn’t about the money and I am not complaining because I signed up to do it with my friend.”

The actress also shot down previous claims that she was blackballed.

“The phone was ringing and the scripts were coming. When people say, ‘Mo’Nique, where have you been?’ it’s not that I haven’t been on TV or in the movies because I’ve been blackballed as Mr. Daniels has said, the offers just didn’t make sense, Don. So again, the phones didn’t stop ringing and the scripts didn’t stop coming, but the offers that were associated with them were offers that made me say, ‘Guys, I can’t accept that because if I accept that and I won the award, what are my sisters being offered who didn’t win the award or wasn’t nominated?’”

Check out her full interview below. Thoughts?

“Sometimes Artists Get In Their Own Way” Lee Daniels Talks Mo’Nique Being Blackballed

February 26th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
Share to Twitter Email This
Lee Daniels Talks Mo'Nique Being Blackballed

Source: CNN

This story about Mo’Nique being blackballed in the industry keeps getting bigger and bigger. But one voice we’ve haven’t heard yet is that of the man who made the original comment. Well, Lee Daniels sat down with CNN’s Don Lemon to address that and also the very heart wrenching scene where Luscious throws a young Jamal into the trash can.

See what he had to say and then watch the full interview below.

Don Lemon: She says that she was blackballed after the movie.

No, she said that I said that she was blackballed. I didn’t say that exactly. What I said to her was–we were on the campaign and she was making unreasonable demands. And she wasn’t thinking…This is when reverse racism, I think, happens. I said, you know, you have to thank the producers of the film. You have to thank the studio and I think she didn’t understand that. I said listen, people aren’t going to respond well if you don’t.

I love her and I’ve spoken to her and she’s brilliant. And I like working with brilliant people. But sometimes artists get in their own way…I know I certainly do, often. I have my own demons.

I think that there were demands that were made from her on the Precious campaign that everyone knows about, that hurt her. And I told her that.

Can she change that?

I mean, if she plays ball! You’ve gotta play ball. This is not just show, it’s show business. And you’ve got to play ball. And you can’t scream–I don’t like calling the race card. I don’t believe in it. Because if I buy into it, then it becomes real.

Some people would say that you’re a sell-out for that mentality 

I guess I’m a sell out then. Call it what it is. But I’m not going to not work and I’m not going to not tell my truth and I’m not going to not call people out on their bull. So whatever that means, sell out… I’ll see you in the theaters.

Lee Daniels has been very open and honest about how Jamal’s character and the struggles he goes through are very indicative of the traumatic experiences he’s had in his own life being a gay, Black man.

On the scene where Luscious throws Jamal in the trash

I had no intention [of putting the scene in the show]. I told my partner this–and that’s why we’re a great team–I told him this in passing. And then when it ended up in the script, I said ‘No, no. No, no.’  And some kind of way he just talked me into it. And then it came time to shoot it–and he ain’t shooting it, I’m shooting it. And it’s my life.– And so my sister who I bring along, as a good luck charm on all my films, was an extra in the scene, in that particular scene, and when it came to the kid walking towards Terrence, with his hands on his hips, I couldn’t direct the scene. I broke down in tears. Because I just… And my sister instinctively knew, got up and directed the kid. So I didn’t direct that moment. My sister did. Who ain’t a director. Painful!

 

“Empire” Star Trai Byers Says He Almost Quit Acting To Be A Pastor After Struggling To Find Work

February 26th, 2015 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
Share to Twitter Email This

Trai Byers

As tormented as the character of Andre is on “Empire,” the opportunity to play the power-hungry son of Lucious Lyon on the hit Fox show is major for Trai Byers. The handsome actor has been very blessed within the last year or so. Not only did he land a big role on the show everyone’s talking about, but he also played James Forman in the critically-acclaimed film, Selma. But things weren’t always flourishing in Byer’s career. In an interview on “The Meredith Vieira Show,” he said that after struggling to find work as an actor in 2013, he was close to quitting to become a man of the cloth.

“In 2013 I did not work at all just contemplating what I needed to do if I was walking in my destiny or not. Is this what Trai wants to do? I am a big Christian so I always talk about that. Is this what God wants me to do? I really contemplated changing going into something else. I am very passionate about God and religion and I thought maybe I’m supposed to be a pastor. I don’t know. I was open to being used in any way that was aligned for me destiny wise and Empire came. Right after EmpireSelma came. Then to look later down the line to see Empire was premiering on Wednesday night, the same week on Friday Selma was going wide, like, you couldn’t time it like that.”

Vieira: “Did you believe it was a message?”

Byers: “Yes! Stay where you are [laughs]”

And the show has definitely blown up. Byers revealed how the cast found out they were given the greenlight for a second season.

“The core cast were on our way to the TCAs in Los Angeles, all on a plane together. It’s the Television Critics Association. So we’re landing in LA and this man sitting next to me, he has a baseball cap on, regular guy, unassuming guy. As soon as we land they tell us we can turn our phones on. He turns his on and says, “Hey, you know you were just picked up for a second season right?” I’m like, “Really?” I’m sitting in the middle, Yazz is in the front. Taraji and Jussie are across from me and Terrence is in the back. I’m like, “We just got picked up for a second season y’all” and the front of the plane just erupts. I’m sure we scared the mess out of the people in the back [laughs].”

Lee Daniels shared that he was trying to get Denzel Washington to appear on the show after the acting legend revealed that he loved it, so everyone is wondering, will we see Washington in season two? Byers hopes so.

“Wouldn’t that be great? I love Denzel. The show is huge. And with a huge show comes a lot of rumors. I couldn’t say whether he was or was not, but that would be great! Hopefully he does.”

Glad to see things working out so well for Byers. But if he ever does decide to give the whole pastor calling a try, I’m available to be a first lady! You were thinking it too…

 

“I Didn’t Tell Mo’Nique To Do Anything!” Sheryl Lee Ralph Clarifies ‘Access Hollywood’ Statements

February 25th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
Share to Twitter Email This
Sheryl Lee Ralph Clarifies 'Access Hollywood' Statements

WENN

Yesterday, when we watched Sheryl Lee Ralph’s “Access Hollywood” interview, discussing Mo’Nique being blackballed in the industry, we left scratching our heads. Ms. Sheryl has always been a pretty uplifting and philanthropic figure in our community; and these words, seemed to be a bit out of character. So, in an attempt to get to the true intent of what she was saying we spoke to Ms. Ralph today on the phone. And she clarified a few things. 

See what she had to say.

After the media started picking up your interview, you reached out to Mo’Nique last night via Twitter, what did you want to let her know. 

You know sometimes media can make things seem like what they ain’t. And I was just like girlfriend, ‘Now you know…’ And she was like ‘Diva, now you know I know.’ And then she made me laugh. She made a reference to my very first film, Piece of the Action. And the character Barbara Hanley has a very famous line in terms of when people try to turn things on you. So she made me laugh out loud. In fact, I told her I’m rolling on the floor, laughing out loud.

What was your intention going into the “Access Hollywood” interview?

We all know that in every walk of life–I don’t care if you’re sewing dresses, I don’t care if you’re an adjunct professor, I don’t care who you are–there is a game of life to be played. What might it be? They were talking about the fact that Mo’Nique had done an interview saying that she had been blackballed and Lee Daniels said ‘Look, you’ve been blackballed or you’ve done some things and maybe you didn’t campaign as strongly for Precious and folks remember that.’ And I thought it was very interesting how, in this game of media, she’s being chastised, blackballed–whatever you want to call it– for not being able to promote the film. And I just said you never ever know what the state of someone’s mind is and their ability to do the job you need done at that certain time. And you heard me say it. Would they have done the same thing to Tom Hanks? It’s a different game for women, no matter what color you are. And it’s different, especially when you put color on it. We know this. I just want folks to know that sometimes folks can’t always do what people are expecting of them. You can’t.

Like Dave Chappelle. He just could not do what people were asking him to do. He was not in that state of mind. And he had to walk away from a few million dollars. And everybody thought ‘Well, why would he do that?’ He had to do it to save himself. And sometimes people don’t understand that, they just want to throw you under the bus or throw you out there when really what you’re trying to do is take care of yourself.

Some interpreted that to mean you knew that she was in a bad mental space…

We don’t know what her state might have been. I’m just putting that out there, what if.  I don’t know but what if. What if she needed a break after shooting a very intense film like that?

Folks should be paying attention because anybody who watched the interview, knew exactly what I was saying. Anybody who read a headline completely did not get what I was saying because the headline was misleading and taken out of context. So anybody went off of a headline and then just judged me on a headline has learned that sometimes you need to read, sometimes you need to dig deeper. Sometimes you need to look for the truth. But realize the game has started. And we are winning because people are talking.

“What She Was Did Not Work” Sheryl Lee Ralph Talks Mo’Nique Being Blackballed

February 24th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
Share to Twitter Email This
Sheryl Lee Ralph Talks Mo'Nique Being Blackballed

Source: Access Hollywood

Actress and comedienne Mo’Nique made all kinds of headlines when she explained to the Hollywood Reporter, why we haven’t seen her around in a while. Basically, Lee Daniels told her she’d been blackballed in the industry. The news came as a bit of a surprise considering the fact that Mo’Nique is so undeniably talented. Well, there was one person who wasn’t surprised. Actress, author and philanthropist Sheryl Lee Ralph sat down with “Access Hollywood” to say that perhaps Mo’Nique just needs to get better at playing the game.

Check out the highlights from her interview below…and then we’ll discuss.

There is obviously a game. When you walk into the room, do people love you? Do they want to give you stuff? Do they want to do things for you? Do they want to give you their money with the hopes that they’re going to get it back with an interest on the time they spent just handing it over to you. That’s part of the game, how you make people feel.

But the best part of the game is public relations, baby. Are people talking about you? Well, she’s been gone for how many years now, we have not been hearing about her, seeing her, nothing.  Right about now, everybody’s talking about her. And that’s good stuff.

Refusing to campaign for ‘Precious’

What’s interesting about that is she didn’t campaign. I wonder, do you think that they would blackball Tom Hanks for not campaigning for a movie? The game is different for women… Maybe she was in a state. We don’t know what was going on with that person. She might have been in a state of her mind where she said, ‘I cannot go out there and do this with all these people without causing harm to myself.’ We don’t know what was going on in her mind.

Is she really difficult?

Maybe she is. There are a whole lot of actors who are mean and terrible but they work all the time. It goes back to who likes you. Who wants to be in your kind of crazy company? Who wants to give you money in hopes that they’ll get something back on the return of your madness? And sometimes you just need to shut up, sit there and look pretty. It’s the truth. That’s a part of the game too.

Have you ever done that? 

No, I’ve never done that. I’ve never played well at that. But I think this is a set up for a comeback. Now, when she comes back, she better be as tiny as you. *Points to hostess Kit Hoover.*

Really? Then she wouldn’t be Mo’Nique…

She doesn’t need to be Mo’Nique anymore because obviously what she was did not work. So she better come back brand new. That’s what they’re waiting for and if a big time producer says to you, ‘You have been blackballed, what’s he’s really doing is looking at you and saying ‘You ain’t never working with me again.’

Is any of this race driven?

There’s always a difference when you add color to it. When I was a little girl, my mother used to say to me ‘You’re going to have to work twice as hard for half a chance. You are going to have to win the race five times before they give you the award.’ So that has always been true. But in this case, maybe it’s just a case of timing. She was not in the right head space. Maybe she was heading down a dark road. Maybe she had some of the wrong people around her and it wasn’t the position to jettison her from that Oscar. But maybe it’s all working itself out in the comeback for Mo’Nique. Come on back, girl, come on.

I would think there would be other roles

Do you see a whole lot of roles for somebody who looks like the Mo’Nique we have seen in the past, unless you are Precious?

Let me just say, I’m genuinely confused by Sheryl’s statements. There are times during this interview where I think she’s making a legitimate critique of the industry. And then there are other times where it seems like she’s making a critique of Mo’Nique, suggesting that in order for her to succeed in this industry she needs to change everything about herself.

I understand the notion of playing the game but telling another woman to sit down, shut up and look pretty, specifically when Sheryl admitted that she’s never done it, rings as odd and counterproductive to me. How is the industry going to change and be more accepting if women are knowingly playing the shut up and take it game?

I’ve watched quite a few Mo’Nique interviews over the years and I just recently re-listened to her acceptance speech at the Oscars. Where she took time to thank the Academy for making the award about the performance and not about politics. In other words, even at what we consider to be the pinnacle of her career, Mo’Nique was not about playing the game. Judging by her decision to even speak to the Hollywood Reporter about being blackballed and dropping Lee Daniels’ name, specifically, it doesn’t seem like she’s about playing the game now either. If she were she would have sat on that information and hatched a plan to change the way she’s perceived in the industry.

Also, I can’t be the only one who noticed that Ralph seemed to be making comments about Mo’Nique’s mental state, suggesting that she was in the wrong headspace or heading down a “dark road.” I just kept wondering does Sheryl know Mo’Nique? Does she know something we don’t about her journey as a woman and actress?

Lastly, and perhaps most disturbingly, Ralph suggests that in order for Hollywood to accept Mo’Nique she must not only lose weight but become an entirely different person because the person she was did not work.

Huh?

You know how your grandma, auntie or even mother can only give you advice based on the experiences they’ve had and the trials they’ve faced? They’re trying to help you succeed, not quite understanding that times have changed. And we don’t have to play by those antiquated rules anymore. I always reference my mom telling me to wear a wig to cover my natural hair during job interviews, the career advisor telling me to remove the Black associations from my resume and my grandfather telling me I needed to remove my nose ring in order to be taken seriously. Each one of these people ultimately meant well. But they also failed to understand that I didn’t want the type of career success that came with hiding who I really was and still am today.

Perhaps this is what Sheryl Lee Ralph is doing, trying to save Mo’Nique some of the pain and heartache of being abused by an industry she knows pretty well.

I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt and say she probably meant well. But we can’t expect to change the industry if we all kept playing that same old, losing game.

You can watch Sheryl Lee Ralph’s full remarks in the video below.

#KillingIt: ‘Empire’ Rakes In Almost 13 Million Viewers For Its Seventh Episode

February 19th, 2015 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
Share to Twitter Email This

After last night’s salacious episode, Empire’s ratings are literally off the chain!

Since debuting on Fox on January 7 , the hit television show’s ratings have grown tremendously from 9.9 million viewers. Empire’s success has shot up the ladder week by week:

January 7: 9.9 million viewers
January 14: 10.32 million viewers
January 21: 11.07 million viewers
January 28: 11.36 million viewers
February 4: 11.47 million viewers
February 11: 12.96 million viewers

According to Nielsen Overnight TV Show ratings, Empire locked in its seventh week with 12.94 million ratings from viewers between the ages of 18 and 49. Nearly reaching nearly 13 million viewers in its seventh week, Empire is killing the game right now with unprecedented week-by-week growth.

Congratulations to the entire cast and director, Lee Daniels!

via B. Scott