The “Mo’Nique Was Blackballed After Winning an Oscar For Precious” narrative has been an ongoing part of popular culture for just over three years. It began when the actress told The Hollywood Reporter that the film’s director, Lee Daniels, and producers, Tyler Perry and Oprah, were responsible for an industry-wide blackballing because she “didn’t play the game.” The “game,” it turns out, was dutifully participating in Precious’s awards season promo.
At the time, Daniels responded to Mo’Nique’s criticisms, saying:
“During the [Oscar] 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 she didn’t understand that. People aren’t going to respond well. I love her, I’ve spoken to her. She’s brilliant, and I love working with brilliant people. 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 on the ‘Precious’ campaign that everyone knows hurt her. I told her that. You’ve gotta play ball. This is not just show — it is show business.”
Eventually this back-and-forth turned into a one-sided affair, with Mo’Nique doing all of the talking into an ever-growing void. Then, at a stand-up show last year, she decided she wasn’t blackballed at all. No, she was “whiteballed.” Said Mo’Nique:
“What is that black dick connected to? That black man? So no, I was not blackballed. I was whiteballed by some black dicks who have no balls. Thank you, Mr. Lee Daniels. Thank you, Mr. Tyler Perry. Thank you, Ms. Oprah Winfrey. See, I know they like to say, ‘Mo’Nique, you talk too motherfuckin’ much.’ It would kill me not to say the real shit. You are not paying me equally. You are not treating me fairly, so you can suck my dick if I had one.”
And now, over a year later, Daniels has responded once again to Mo’Nique’s complaints. About 10 minutes into an interview with TMZ, reporter Raquel Harper brought up Mo’Nique. “You cracked her whole career [open],” she says. “And now she’s being very disrespectful to you.”
Daniels went long. Their exchange is below. (Bold mine.)
LEE DANIELS: Mo’Nique, I fought hard for her to get that job...And she was paid her money. She was paid the money for the budget that we had. And for her to badmouth myself and Tyler [Perry] and Oprah is disrespectful and it’s wrong. She’s wrong. She’s out of pocket. She’s really wrong. And I respect her actor because she gave me her soul, but I gave her my soul. And for that, she was given the Golden Globe and the Academy Award.”
RAQ: Black girl magic at the time.
DANIELS: Yeah. And it breaks my heart that she feels that we blackballed her. No one blackballed her. Mo’Nique blackballed her. And for her to continue to talk about Oprah and myself and Tyler is disrespectful and, yeah, that hurt...I don’t understand her motive. I don’t get it. I really don’t. [We] were really down for Mo. To get that performance from her, she had to bare her soul to me. I had to bare my soul to her. That was like making love without having sex.
RAQ: I understand. (Author note: do any of you actually understand that because I don’t.)
DANIELS: There’s levels to that. And for her to think that I could do anything but, I don’t know, I don’t, like, it ain’t even worth the conversation. Like, she needs to shut up.
RAQ: Of course. I completely agree.
DANIELS: I would have run with that Oscar opportunity and soared... And I work with the same people over and over again... I like working with the same people over and over again. People like working with me.
The conversation takes a sudden turn at this point, as Raq begins the next question with, “So with you being gay, right...” Weird segue! It also means that’s all we get about Mo’Nique, but after a year of waiting, it’s more than enough. And I’ll be right here when she responds.