All Articles Tagged "Precious"

Forget About #OscarsSoWhite; What About Equal Pay for Black Actresses?

February 26th, 2016 - By Charing Ball
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Image Source: WENN

Image Source: WENN

In a cover story for Variety Magazine, comedian and Oscar-winning actress Mo’Nique raised an important point about the #OscarsSoWhite campaign:

Basically, why are we talking about trophies when Black actresses are being paid almost peanuts for virtually the same work as their White counterparts?

As Mo’Nique tells Variety’s Ramin Setoodeh, she only received $50,000 as well as “an insignificant back-end” for her Academy Award-winning role in Lee Daniels’ Precious. This is in spite of of the film going on to gross $47.5 million at the domestic box office. She also states that since then, she has turned down parts “because the salaries attached to the offers were less than what she was earning a decade ago, well before she was an Academy Award-winning actress.”

Of course Mo’Nique has been very vocal about this before. And before, many of us took this as her acting uppity or worse, being entitled. However in the next part of the interview, Mo’Nique gives us more insight into her motives.

And as she tells Setodeh:

Did you watch the Oscars growing up?

Rarely. That wasn’t a program that we watched in our household. There was no representation. When you do see people of color get nominated, you’re like, “They really put the work in.” You’re excited for them and happy for them. We put so much on the Oscars, at this point we’re being misdirected. The focus should not be on the trophy. The focus should be on the paychecks and the unequal wages. Anytime you hear Patricia Arquette and Gwyneth Paltrow, when you hear those white women say, “We’re not getting equal wages.” Well if they are saying it, what do you think we’re getting?

Is it harder for women of color?

To focus on a trophy, we totally miss the point. Let’s have a real and open conversation. That’s when change will happen in Hollywood. To ask me about a trophy is really irrelevant. It’s just a trophy. But why is there such a pay gap? If there’s a black film coming out and it’s an all-black cast, why is it that it’s a low-budget film? The offers I oftentimes receive are less than I got 11 years ago, and that’s before I won the Oscar.

Was there a time you were ever paid as much as male co-stars?

No. There’s never been a time that I’m aware of, that my paycheck was equal in the entertainment industry, in Hollywood. When you get a telephone call from directors like Malcolm Lee and he makes me an offer to do a movie that’s far less than I made a decade ago when I worked with him on “Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins,” and my husband says, “How do you make that type of offer when she made more money then?” His reply was: “I know it’s not right. I just want to work.”

Mo’Nique then goes to explain that how she never really wanted to be an actress and that her real ambition had always centered around being a talk-show host. If we recall, at the time of her Oscar nom, Mo’Nique was also working her real dream as talk show host at BET.

During the interview, she also admits to turning down roles because the films weren’t offering her much money in the front end. More specifically she said: “What we have always had to tell people, I’m not in the business of script reading. When you call up the offer, we don’t get that far. We want to know, “What are you offering?”

It all sounds pretty callous and disrespectful of the field of acting in general. But as Mo’Nique reminds us, most of Hollywood is business first. More specifically she said:

You were only paid $50,000 for “Precious.” Did you get a back end?

There was a back end, in all fairness. But the end it was behind, it was the double triple quadruple back end. Because Lee Daniels was my friend, he said, “This is what it is.” And we said, “Okay.” That movie made a lot of money all over the world. And again you have to ask yourself, “Why is it that we don’t take part in it?” Myself and Gabourey Sidibe, we should have become multi-millionaires off that movie, had we been given the right information. We weren’t given the right information. If you’re not given the right information, it doesn’t allow you to negotiate fairly.

What’s the right information?

By them saying, “Let me lay everything out on the table. This is what this means, this is what this back end means.” I don’t think my friend will tell me anything that’s not right. But then you understand it’s business. It’s a lesson well learned, a costly one. You have to ask yourself if “Precious” is so successful, why is that I’m not getting offers that make sense because you see what happens at the box office? I don’t say it’s just because of me. It was a collective group. Everyone that took part was a big part of the success.

The budget of the movie was $10 million and it grossed $47.5 million domestically. Who made that money?

Someone did, my love. Can you please call them and ask them where it is?”

Honestly, it all really does make sense. Precious grossed four-times as much as what it cost to be made. It also won awards. She should have been getting better financial offers that reflected her success. However that’s business. And what many of us, particularly creative folks, know through trial and error is that folks will take advantage of you. They will use you and your time and energy, make a bunch of money and leave you penniless. And very few will feel sorry for you. In fact, most will blame the person for not seeing it coming.

Yet, when a woman is smart enough to take charge of her time and her finance, for some reason we also see her as being ungrateful or entitled. But as Mo’Nique notes later on in the piece:

When you know the history of Hattie [McDaniel, the first African American to win an Oscar for “Gone With the Wind” in 1940], she said she felt like she had been cursed. They already didn’t want to pay her fairly. Now that she had own the highest award in the acting business of Hollywood, now you think we’re going to treat you fairly? Unfortunately, that sweet woman died penniless. She didn’t get the money she was supposed to get. So did it hurt my career? I have to say no, it didn’t. What I did always have was the option to say yes or no. I think, unfortunately, there are times where we don’t have the option. I’m a stand-up comedian. I go on the road. I tour. So I always have the option to say, “No, thank you.” But what about the ones who don’t have the option? I don’t know how much has changed from Hattie to right now.

Who cares about accolades and validation from the academies when so many of our favorites end up meeting the same fate as McDaniel?

How To Deal When You’ve Been Lied On By Someone You Trusted

April 30th, 2015 - By Alyssa Johnson
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"Mo'Nique pf"

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Knowing that you’re being lied on and that people believe what’s being said about you is a terrible thing, but being lied on in public and on a global scale?

That’s on a level most of us can’t even comprehend.

That is something Mo’Nique had to deal with recently. The Academy Award-winning actress experienced what many would argue was the most humiliating predicament of her career.

It all began back in February when the Precious star revealed to The Hollywood Reporter that she had supposedly been “blackballed by Hollywood,” a sentiment expressed to her by director Lee Daniels, who she also revered as a friend.

It was a risky admission that could have gone either way. It could have placed an ominous cloud over Mo’Nique’s latest film, Blackbird, which she was promoting when she shared this information, or it could drum up extra publicity for the independent production. She hadn’t been seen on the big screen since 2009, so sharing this information was a gamble. However, Mo’Nique isn’t one to shy away from risks career wise.

But everything took a strange turn when Daniels went on CNN to tell his side of the story. With the gloves officially off, Mo’Nique decided to spill more tea.

The outspoken star fired back, arguing that if she weren’t a team player as Daniels had insisted, he would not have offered her the role of Cookie Lyons on his breakout hit show, Empire.

This shook Empire fans to the core as they could not imagine anyone else being in the role besides Taraji P. Henson. And when co-creator Danny Strong shot back saying it wasn’t true, the show’s fans believed him and criticized Mo’Nique. Many people felt that she was a jilted star who needed to move on already.

That is until she produced receipts.

During Mo’Nique’s interview on Sway in the Morning, she showed off printed emails between both Daniels’ camp and her own management team as they discussed her involvement with the show. Sway read the emails aloud: “Lee Daniels had a conversation with Mo’Nique about his new television pilot for Imagine TV/Fox called Empire. We would like to screen test her for the role of ‘Cookie.’ Please contact us with her television quotes, so that we can start a test, option, deal. We are tentatively looking at Monday, Feb 24 for the screen test.”

There the proof was, in black and white. While Daniels and Strong were apparently trying to diminish Mo’Nique’s character and tarnish her professional reputation, they were ultimately exposed as shady, and now it’s their character being brought into question.

While she should have been talking about her latest creative venture in interviews, Mo’Nique has spent a lot of time and energy defending herself against Daniels, which I’m sure was pretty exhausting for her, and at times, the public.

But I don’t blame Mo’Nique. Being lied on is an awful thing (I’m speaking from experience), and had Mo’Nique put more focus on her new film rather than defending herself, we’d still have a skewed view of her. We would believe that she used this entire situation for publicity and wouldn’t want to support her or her new movie.

When someone lies on you, it is a betrayal, especially if you consider the person a friend as Mo’Nique considered Daniels.

If this happens to you, the first thing you need to digest is that if this person could lie on you, they were probably never really your friend in the first place. Owning that thought is the first step because it allows you to understand who this person is. Getting over the shock of it all will help you figure out what to do next.

In Mo’Nique’s case, she had proof. Unfortunately, sometimes we’re lied on and there is no proof. People just have to take your word. If you’ve exhausted yourself trying to prove to others that you have been lied on, I suggest letting it go and allowing karma to work its magic. There is nothing more precious than time, and once it is gone we cannot get it back. Don’t waste it trying to prove someone wrong and by trying to convince people of something you know is the truth. As long as you know the real deal, that’s what matters. The truth will reveal itself in time.

Mo’Nique Claims She Was Blackballed By Hollywood After Winning Oscar

February 19th, 2015 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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WENN

WENN

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 MovieBlackbird (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.

Bet You Didn’t Know: Secrets Behind The Making Of “Precious”

March 24th, 2014 - By Deron Dalton
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Precious

(photo credit: Lionsgate 2009)

Precious is a thought-provoking, gut-wrenching and heartbreaking independently-funded film that went on to become an Academy-Award winning success!

The movie is about an overweight, dark-skinned African American girl dealing with incest and child and sexual abuse who has to “push” through the abuse, her illiteracy and teen motherhood by attending an alternative school in hopes for her life to head in a new direction. Though most are familiar with these details, having read the novel the film was based on, there are many behind-the-scenes trivia you probably didn’t know happened in order to make this adapted film come to the big screen — Like the name of the film was changed from the novel’s name Push: The Novel to Precious to avoid conflict with the 2008 action film, Push. The novel was also republished as Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire.

Read on for more secrets behind the making of Precious.

Another Oscar Nomination? Mo’Nique Talks New Film “Blackbird” Plus Trailer Sneak Peek

March 18th, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Mo'Nique Talks New Film "Blackbird"

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In 2009, we saw a grim side to Mo’Nique in the Lee Daniel’s film, Precious with Gabourey Sidibe. Mo’Nique’s role earned her an Academy Award, and if you ever needed a refresher as to why she won the Oscar, her new film Blackbird will completely remind you. Rolling Out Magazine reported Mo’Nique will play a devout Christian mother whose teenage son  struggles with his sexuality. During her Rolling Out interview, Mo’Nique revealed why Blackbird’s script resonated with her and her husband/business partner, Sheldon Hicks. Of the director, Patrick Ian Polk, and cast, Mo’Nique said:

[He’s] a brilliant director. I’ve never thought I’d get the opportunity with such a fearless director as Lee Daniels or a fearless actor like Gabourey Sidibe again and to work with Patrick [he] was just fearless and wasn’t willing to waiver from the story he needed to tell.  Julian Walker was fearless and wasn’t willing to waiver for fear of being ridiculed for playing that role. To work with them; it was an honor.

To see Mo’Nique’s point, watch the trailer of Blackbird below, with Isaiah Washington and newcomer, Julian Walker.

To hear more of Mo’Nique’s interview with Rolling Out, listen to the video below.

Does ‘Blackbird ‘interest you? Let us known in the comment section! 

Lee Daniels: I Saw So Many Black Women And Kids At AIDS Center I Thought I Was At The Welfare Office

August 21st, 2013 - By Brande Victorian
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Lee Daniels Welfare

Lia Toby/WENN.com

If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s when one minority attempts to to marginalize another for the sake of their own personal cause and that is exactly what “The Butler” director Lee Daniels did in a recent interview with Larry King.

In discussing his experience growing up gay and coming into his sexuality, Daniels made a very sharp left in what could have been a productive discussion. Apparently in a previous interview he had remarked that gay people are third class citizens and when asked to expound on this idea by King, Daniels threw this dagger:

“I think they are prejudiced upon even from the African Americans too. I think that the reason we have AIDS…I did a movie called ‘Previous’ and when I was doing the research for ‘Precious,’ I walked into the gay mens health crisis center in New York City and I expected to see studying [of] AIDS and HIV, I expected to see a room full of gay men, but there are nothing but women that are there – black women with kids, I thought I had walked into the welfare office – but they service black women with AIDS, why?

“Because black men can’t come out. Why? Because you simply can’t do it. Your family says it, your church says it, your teachers say it, your parents say it, your friends say it, your work says it. And so you’re living on this DL thing and you’re infecting black women.”

And that has what to do with black women being on welfare?

Look, I won’t pretend to know the struggle of being a homosexual black male, or to be an expert on the bureaucracy of AIDS research and treatment when it comes to the black community. However, if black women are getting services in a gay men’s clinic, that’s a systematic issue, not one that has to do with prejudice from the black community. Furthermore, a man’s inability to live his life freely as an openly homosexual male has no bearing, in my mind, on his inability to be sexually responsible. Being chastised for your sexual orientation is not an excuse to one, play with a woman’s heart and pretend to be heterosexual when you’re not, and two, sleep around indiscriminately, particularity when you’re aware that there may be these biases in sexual health care as it relates to gay men.

And again I find myself asking what the hell does any of this have to do with black women being on welfare?

I don’t think I’m too far off when I say there was just a slight, if not overt, element of bitterness to Daniels’ narrative which no doubt stems back to his childhood and being beat by his father for being gay. But that’s not black women’s fault, nor is it their fault they’ve found some place to be serviced for sexual health issues. There is equal responsibility to be had amongst black men and women when it comes to the rapid spread of AIDS, and finger pointing and excusing just won’t cut it if we really want to stop this epidemic and neither will stereotyping. Being the double minority that he is, Daniels should know this more than anyone else.

Check out the video of his interview below. What do you think?

 

Age Ain’t Nothin’ But A Number In Hollywood: Older Actors Who’ve Portrayed Significantly Younger Characters

April 17th, 2013 - By Nicole Akoukou Thompson
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Since the beginning of film-making, directors have cast actors and actresses into roles based significantly on talent, often letting factors like age fall by the wayside. Age ain’t nothing but a number in Hollywood, and that’s evident when a 41-year-old Barber Streisand was cast to play a 17-year-old in Yentl, or a 34-year-old Stockard Channing was cast to play an 18-year-old girl in Grease. Let’s see what other actresses and actors are old enough to father or give birth to some of the characters they’ve played–or at least be a young aunt or uncle to them.

DONALD GLOVER

Donald Glover

Image Source: WENN.com

Donald Glover, who currently stars as 24-year-old college student Troy Barnes on Community, is just marginally older than his character by 5 years, making Glover 29 years old.

Our Favorite Movies Adapted From Black Books

April 8th, 2013 - By Meghan Williams
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"Their Eyes Were Watching God Cover"

 

Big screen adaptations of novels written by black authors are few and far between, which is precisely why we shouldn’t just support black movies, but black books as well – especially considering African-American achievements in literature are highly underrated. So definitely give these movies a watch, but do yourself one better and pick up the original books, because we already know that the movies are never ever as good as the original literary work

Movie Villains We Love To Hate: 11 On-Screen Bad Guys And Girls We Absolutely Couldn’t Stand

March 26th, 2013 - By Clarke Gail Baines
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While some people watch movies and quietly root for the villain (no lie, I thought Bane in The Dark Knight Rises was bad a**!), many of us do the complete opposite–we watch these cocky, disrespectful, distasteful and often violent characters with disgust. Some are so good at being bad that we equate the actors with these characters for a long time, and some are eerily effective, to the point that you watch the character, act like you know them, and scoff at the fact that you dislike them so much. If you ever say, “UGH!” when you watch these movies, or shake your head at these characters a few times, then you’ll probably agree that they were villains you loved to hate.

Sanaa Lathan

Sanaa Lathan in The Family That Preys

If you watched just 30 minutes of The Family That Preys and viewed Lathan as Andrea, you were probably just as sick of her as we were. She was a conniving cheater, dogging out her hard-working and fine man (Rockmond Dunbar) for the town’s stuck-up socialite and trust-fund baby. And in the end, she revealed that *SPOILER* the son her husband thought was his blood was a product of her affair. She didn’t even look remorseful at all! Who else wanted to reach through the screen and shake her real good???

You Never Know What She’ll Say: Gabourey Sidibe Talks New Movie And Dating!

December 15th, 2012 - By MN Editor
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"Gabby Sidibe"

From ESSENCE

Academy Award-nominated actress Gaboury Sidibe is on top of her game and clearly living her life like it’s golden. Whether she’s telling behind-the-scenes stories from her latest film, Yelling to the Sky, or talking about her favorite date night spots, she is candid and never misses an opportunity to share a laugh.

On whether or not she prepped for her new movie Yelling to the Sky:

Not a lot. I’m from Bed-Stuy, and I grew up in Harlem so all of the things that happened in the film I’ve seen in real life. So I guess I’ve always been preparing to take on a role like that. That’s why it was so honest, and it was so familiar for me so I didn’t have to do a lot of research at all.

About that guy we saw her with last year:

Wait, what? (laughs) That was like a year and some change, it almost two years ago! That boy has been gone. Game over. That was my ex-boyfriend, and he is very, very “ex” now. I am currently not dating anyone, or maybe I am dating everyone. I love being a grown woman in my own apartment in New York City. You know hanging out with who I want to. I don’t have to call home to make sure some man knows where I am all the time. I am really enjoying that life right now.

Check out the hilarious Gabourey and the full interview over at ESSENCE