We’re Walking Each Other To The Bottom Of The Ship: Mo’Nique Called Everybody Out With For Real Love
It’s been a year since Mo’Nique told us that she loved us for real…but wanted us to boycott Netflix. And while it was clear that Netflix had disrespected her with that $500,000 comedy special offer, boycotting the streaming giant was just too inconvenient and too uncomfortable.
Still, there was no question that she was telling the truth. And I’m even inclined to believe that Mo’Nique does love us for real. Because whenever she’s presented with an opportunity, she tells the truth—no matter how uncomfortable it may make us feel and no matter whose powerful toes she steps on in the process.
Mo’Nique spoke to Vulture about broken promises from Tyler Perry, a disheartening convo she shared with Whoopi Goldberg, her love for Tiffany Haddish, and what really matters in life when it’s all said and done.
See what she had to say below.
What was it like to be disappointed and hurt by Tyler Perry, Oprah and Lee Daniels?
It’s disappointing. It’s disheartening. Oftentimes we are the ones who walk one another to the ship and we believe we going on vacation — only to go to the bottom of it. So when I think of those three people, that’s the feeling I get. Because you know something is wrong, but you say absolutely nothing. And then when you hear Tyler Perry say, “Mo’Nique, you did nothing wrong, and when my movie comes out I’m going to say it …” And when you also hear [Tyler Perry] say, “I really thought, had you played by the rules, your career would be different” — not by the golden rules, their rules — you have to ask yourself, What does that mean?
Vulture asked Mo’Nique about the phone conversation she had with Tyler Perry where he promised her he was going to get her some more money for her work in Precious. He also said that he would do what he could to clear Mo’Nique’s name. They asked if he’d made good on any of his promises?
Mo’Nique replied, “Did you hear it?”
Here’s the thing: He’s never done it. We had given Tyler Perry a year to keep his word. Brother, you said you were going to come out and say something. Well, you never came out and said anything. And what was disheartening was people who were saying, “How could you tape him?” But, they weren’t saying, “Oh my God, did you hear what he said? He said she wasn’t wrong. He said he was going to say she wasn’t wrong.” He said, “Had you played by their rules …” — well, that’s just like somebody saying, “If you don’t go up to that hotel room and get on your knees, you know what’s going to happen.” But no one was ever brave enough to say, “Wait a minute Tyler, is what Mo’Nique saying true?” Now you also hear Tyler Perry offering me money …
Did that ever happen?
No. There was never any. We didn’t accept any money. We just said, “Tyler, clear my name. Give me back my reputation.” No one’s ever heard of me being difficult, being a problem, being nothing, until this movie Precious came. Until Mo’Nique said some words that sound like no. Then it’s, “Oh my God, you’re a problem.”
The disheartening conversation she had with Whoopi Goldberg during the taping of “The View” and the even more disappointing one afterward.
When I sat there on that platform on The View, I felt sorry. I had empathy for my sister Whoopi Goldberg. Because what you’re saying to me is, “You must work for free. I could’ve schooled you.” The very thing I went to The View to speak about was the very thing I experienced on The View. You give me three minutes to talk about inequality? Well, I was there the whole show. When you have a woman saying, “I could have schooled you,” someone would say, “What was the schooling going to be?” When I look at this woman you say is our icon and our legend — she is. But, how many things has Whoopi Goldberg executive produced? Whoopi Goldberg has always been the help, and I say that humbly. So what is it that you’re going to school me on? I’ve been doing it for almost 30 years.
This is a woman who says “I could have schooled you,” and this is a woman who accepted Ted Danson in blackface, and our community praises this woman. So oftentimes, we do it to ourselves. But, I just can’t. Understand, I love my sister. However, when you know you’re being fed the wrong food, you must say, “I can’t chew this, y’all.”
Whoopi and I did have a conversation after that. I was up in Whoopi Goldberg’s dressing room — and you’re the first person I’m telling this to. I said to Whoopi Goldberg, “Listen, sister.” Because she said, “Mo’Nique, you gotta let that go. You gotta move on. People just wanna see what’s going to happen to you next.” I said, “Whoopi, I can’t let it go. I gotta think about the little sister who’s not here yet.” And our icon and our legend said, “You better stop worrying about the little sister who’s not here yet and worry about you.” In that moment I knew I was looking at a woman who didn’t give a damn about me. And if she’s telling me, “Stop worrying about that little girl who not here yet,” well, she forgot about the ones that came before her who were worried about her.
Her thoughts on Tiffany Haddish saying she’s not boycotting Netflix because of the opportunities it’s created for other Black creatives and she wasn’t going to protest because someone didn’t make the money they thought they should.
I understood it. And what I won’t do is throw my sister under the bus. And when my sister did have a bad moment, I said, “Y’all, I’m not gonna throw her away.” What she wrote on her Instagram page and on mine was, “I love you, Mo’Nique.” I understand the business. This business is set up for us to go against one another. I’m not going to go against Tiffany Haddish. They set us up to do this to one another. But what I won’t do is, I won’t feed into it.
The fate of Black, female comedians
Tell me about all the money they talk about Moms Mabley making. Tell me about all the money they spoke about Marsha Warfield, Thea Vidale making. These are stand-up comedians. Tell me about the black female comedian who, when it was all said and done, they were well taken care of. Can you? See, Rosie O’Donnell never has to work again if she don’t want to. Roseanne Barr, Ellen DeGeneres, Tina Fey, Melissa McCarthy, the list goes on. Tell me about the black ones. Tell me about the black ones.
On whether or not she should have accepted low offers and hope for big moments later.
No, baby. Because once again, that’s the same thing Hattie McDaniel did. So, now we gon’ speed up 50 years later, and we still gon’ say, “We hope they like us enough that they’ll give us a li’l something”? No. That’s unacceptable. As long as we keep having those niggas that will, we keep being paid unfairly.
How she manages to still operate from a place of love
When I was 7 years old, my grandmother was supposed to come pick me up, and she didn’t show up. I cried so hard because I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t come get me. And my father came up in that room drunk, and he said, “Let me tell you something. Don’t nobody owe you shit.” I never forgot that. They don’t owe me a phone call. They don’t owe me anything, and I still love them. I don’t know their dynamics or what they’re walking through. My husband had to say, “Mama, this shit ain’t never personal.” That’s how I can still love them. It ain’t personal. Don’t you walk around with that shit in your heart.