Just weeks after coming under fire for failing to nominate Black actresses, actors or directors for Sunday’s 82nd Academy Awards ceremony, Hollywood leaders have been hit with an allegation that they blackballed Mo’Nique for “refusing to play the game.”
The comedian-turned-actress says she was marginalized after scoring an Oscar for best supporting actress in 2010 for her role as the domineering mother in “Precious,” according to the Washington Post, which cites a report at the Hollywood Reporter. She told the latter news outlet that industry heavyweights viewed her as too demanding.
However, five years after her Oscar, Mo’Nique, 47, said she routinely lost out on high-profile roles, comparing her plight to that of Hattie McDaniel, the first African American to win an Academy Award. McDaniel played a maid in “Gone with the Wind” (1939) — and went on to play many more, eventually being denounced by the NAACP for “perpetuating negative stereotypes,” as the Hollywood Reporter put it.
“Hattie said, ‘After I won that award, it was as if I had done something wrong,’” Mo’Nique said. “It was the same with me.”
The most interesting part about Mo’Nique’s revelation is who broke the news her.
In the most controversial part of the interview, Mo’Nique alleged she was contacted by Lee Daniels — director of “Precious,” “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” and creator of the new Fox hit “Empire” — who said she had been “blackballed” because she would not campaign for her Oscar, as is expected of stars during award season. She also said she was offered high-profile roles in Daniels’s projects — in “The Butler,” in “Empire,” and in an upcoming Richard Pryor biopic — that were “taken off the table” as a result of the blackball.
“I got a phone call from Lee Daniels maybe six or seven months ago,” Mo’Nique said. “And he said to me, ‘Mo’Nique, you’ve been blackballed.’ And I said, ‘I’ve been blackballed? Why have I been blackballed?’ And he said, ‘Because you didn’t play the game.’ ”
She attributed her refusal to play the game to her humble beginnings.
“I’m a girl from Baltimore,” she said. “I come from a blue-collar town — and being from that place, you learn not to let anybody take advantage of you. You don’t let people mistreat you. You stand up for what’s right. So I can’t answer why he said I was blackballed.”
“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.”