Actress Mo’Nique claims to be “blackballed” by Hollywood

Actress Mo'Nique is seen after the announcements of the nominations for The 83rd Annual Academy Awards on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011 in Beverly Hills, Calif. The 83rd Annual Academy Awards will take place on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011 at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Actress Mo’Nique is seen after the announcements of the nominations for The 83rd Annual Academy Awards on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011 in Beverly Hills, Calif. The 83rd Annual Academy Awards will take place on Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011 at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles (Photo Courtesy of AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

By Erik Jenkins

Culture Editor

Actress and former talk show host Mo’Nique has been making headlines recently, but not for her work on the screen. The comedienne has been interviewed, and saying that she has been blackballed by Hollywood.  In Hollywood and the acting community, the term “blackballed” means to be excluded from any work within the industry, as well as social events in some cases.

Mo’Nique can be remembered from her roles in films such as Soul Plane, and the television show, The Parkers. She is most recognized for her role as Mary in Lee Daniels’ 2009 indie film, Precious.  Mo’Nique received an Oscar at the 2010 Academy Awards for her role as Mary.  While an Oscar typically opens doors for new jobs and roles in Hollywood for its recipient, that was not the case for Mo’Nique.  Ironically, Mo’Nique believes that Lee Daniels, the director of Precious himself, may have played a part in her being blackballed.

According to Mo’Nique, during the infamous phone call she received from Daniels, he told her that the executives at Fox Network said that she is difficult to work with.  In an interview with TMZ, Mo’nique said that she then asked Daniels, “Lee, why would you tell them that? You and I have never had any situations.”  After that is when Daniels informed her that she had been blackballed.  She asked him why, and Daniels replied, “Because you didn’t play the game.” When asked, “And what game is that,” Mo’Nique said that Daniels never answered.

The feud between the two apparently started after the 2010 Academy Awards.  During her acceptance speech for her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, Mo’Nique neglected to thank Lee Daniels. Mo’Nique tells TMZ that Daniels was upset with her, and confronted the actress about the speech.  Mo’Nique told Daniels that she did not mention him, because, “so many people were involved in that amazing project,” and that it would have been unfair to only mention one.  The actress did, however, thank the late Hattie McDaniel. McDaniel was the first black actor to ever receive an Oscar in 1940 for her role in Gone with the Wind in 1939.

In a CNN interview, Lee Daniels does not dispute Mo’Nique’s version of the phone call. He said that he warned her that neglecting to thank the production company would not sit well with others.  Daniels also claims that the actress did not cooperate with the requests and demands of the production company. The demands he was referring to are to attend film festivals to help promote Precious.

In her own CNN interview with Don Lemon, Mo’Nique was given the chance to respond to Daniels’ claims. She said that she could not fly to the Cannes Film Festival in France when asked to, because of conflicting schedules with her other projects at the time, including her talk show and a comedy tour. She went on to say that she could not promote the film without being paid to do so.

Mo’Nique informed CNN that roles were in fact offered after her Oscar win. However, she did not accept them because they were “low offers.”  When Don Lemon asked why she and her husband decided to sign up with Isaiah Washington for the indie film, Blackbird, Mo’Nique informed him that her family has ownership of the film, and will gain from the ownership as long as her name is on it.Blackbird is set to release on Apr. 24.

Mo’Nique insists that her feud with Lee Daniels is what hurt her chance at being casted for the role of Cookie Lyon in Fox’s new hit show, Empire.  Empire was co-created by Lee Daniels, and the role went to Taraji P. Henson.  When asked by TMZ if it would give her pause to know that Lee Daniels is one of the most powerful people in Hollywood, Mo’Nique responded, “You know what would give me pause? To be silent.”

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