Mo’Nique’s Career Journey: From Regular Roles to Resistance

Mo’Nique backstage at the 82nd Academy Awards after winning  Best Supporting Actress in “Precious”

Securing the Stage and Sitcom

It all started in a Baltimore comedy club, from a dare to try an opportunity at open-mic, when comedian and actress, Mo’Nique Hicks, hit the stage and begin her promising career of comedic entertainment. She then secured a spot on what is called “the original Wild ‘N Out,” HBO’s “Snaps,” alongside other up and coming and soon to be notable comedians, such as Ricky Smiley, Tracy Morgan, Michael Blackson, Ray Ray and Talent the Comedian.

 

But the first time we saw her spunky and hilarious personality, was in the 90s TV sitcom, “Moesha,” where she portrayed Nicole Parker, mother of Moesha’s best friend Kim Parker, who was the second half of the dynamic mother-daughter duo.

Luckily enough, the comedian on the rise and co-star Countess Vaughn, scored a spin-off from their recurring roles on “Moesha,” which gave them a five-season run of “The Parkers,” earning Mo’Nique the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series, four years in a row.

(from l to r) Yvette Wilson, Dorien Wilson, Mo’nique, Countess Vaughn, Ken Lawson and Jenna von Oy in a promo photo for “The Parkers” (1999-2004)

Academy Awards and Accolades

It wasn’t too long during and after the successful run of “The Parkers, when it was almost an expectation to see Mo’Nique starring as the comedic relief in some of our favorite films to date. From a small role in John Singleton’s classic, “Baby Boy,” joining forces with Vivica Fox in “Two Can Play That Game,” small film turned into big hit, “Soul Plane” and her most critically-acclaimed and emotionally pulling role of her 20-year run, Mary Lee Johnson in Lee Daniels multiple award nominated film, “Precious.”

 

Mo’Nique went on to win a Golden Globe, SAG Award, British Academy Film Award and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as verbal and physically abusive and resentful mother to Precious, Mary Lee Johnson. Time Magazine, even declared Monique’s performance as the best from a female lead in 2009.

In between the time of the early 2000’s to around 09′, Monique was in her prime. She had hosted and performed at many high-end comedy shows and events, including Showtime at the Apollo, Russell Simmons’ Def Comedy Jam, and even brought her talents to a woman’s correctional facility for her very own 2007 special, “I Coulda Been Your Cellmate!”

 

She also dipped into the likes of music and theatre, starring in R&B and Soul singer, Anthony Hamilton’s “Sister Big Bones,” music video as his love interest and her first play, award-winning production “The Vagina Monologues,” by playwright Eve Ensler in March of 2002. After hosting both the 2003 and 04′ BET Awards, she did such a splendid job, gaining positive reviews and received admirable approval from the queen herself, Beyoncé after doing an opening performance to the superstar’s hits “Crazy in Love,” and “Deja Vu.”

Battling Hollywood

But soon her prime started to slowly sink, and we weren’t seeing Mo’Nique’s contagious laughter and keeping it real comedy, grace our screens as we did years before.  After we had the two-year capture of her newly placed 2009-11′ talk show, “The Monique Show,” on BET, accompanied by celebrity guests and musical performances, there was a distant drought until a host appearance for a Love & Hip-Hop reunion, Pan African Film Festival release “Blackbird,” the TV movie “Bessie,” and her most recent and last line of work, Aunt May in David E. Talbert’s “Almost Christmas.”

Mo’Nique as Aunt May in David E. Talbert’s “Almost Christmas”

But the supposed truth to Mo’Nique’s era of turmoil in her career, came out during a May 2017 stand-up performance at the Apollo, where the actress exposed moguls, Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry and Lee Daniels, who were all apart of the production of “Precious, for not blackballing, but got her “whiteballed,” in Hollywood.

Mo’Nique claimed she had received a call from Daniels who had directly told her, she was now blackballed in the industry, due to her behavior during award season for “Precious,” and her not giving the correct accolades to those a part of the film.

Despite the controversy, Daniels described the Mo’Nique as “brilliant,” but was dissatisfied with demand she had during press for “Precious.” Mo’Nique said she was even offered the role of Cookie Lyon in the popular FOX TV drama, “Empire,” and released emails from Daniels camp requesting she do a screen test, after co-creator Danny Strong, stated Mo’nique was never offered the role of Cookie. She claimed Daniels told her the role of Cookie Lyon was meant for her, and they had also been in talks about her playing Gloria Gaines in “The Butler,” which was ultimately, given to Oprah.

This wasn’t the last time Mo’Nique would call out Hollywood for their mistreatment, as box-office hit “Girls Trip,” started to get the buzz it deserved, but Mo’nique saw it as a chance to bring light to the unequal pay gap, given to the actresses of the film, in comparison to white actresses, who were making millions of more dollars according to the Forbes list of highest paid actresses.

Still Fighting

And now we’re here in 2018, where Mo’Nique is asking Netflix subscribers and viewers to boycott the company, due to the actress being offered only $500,000 as opposed to Amy Schumer’s negotiated $11 million and Dave Chapelle’s and Chris Rock’s $20 million offer, for a comedy special.

 

Mo’Nique stated she suggested Netflix go off of her exceptional resume, which they responded to her, with the statement that they don’t base their offers off of entertainer’s resume’s, but more so popularity and relevancy. Color and gender bias have been pending factors in Mo’Nique’s conflict with Netflix, but fans seem to not see her argument as solid, as little to a few have decided to stand with her and boycott the program.

Now I’ll be real with you all. I know it and almost everyone else who is ducked off not admitting it, but Mo’Nique is definitely steps ahead of comedic talent, than Amy Schumer and is in the same lane as Chappelle and Rock. BUT to be reasonable, we have to look at what most companies and platforms with a lot of consumers gear towards, popularity. If this was around the mid 2000’s, where Mo’Nique was securing roles back-to-back and her stand-up specials and hosting were as consistent, post “Precious,” this would’ve been a done million dollar deal.

And yes, it’s very unfortunate that’s what most career moves, offers and decisions are based off of, but nothing is more in the now than whatever is “the next big thing.” And maybe Mo’Nique should redirect her attention carrying that title through conflict, and on to recreating a memorable career, she had a grasp on.

I personally stand for equality in any work place or area, and in general, but sometimes the decisions we make and the character we refuse to improve, without changing who we truly are, could be blocking the ultimate blessing.

Mo’Nique we’re still rooting for you, but it’s time to stop playing the blame game and start getting back in the game, to secure your career.

Diamond Jones

Jr. Editor Lifestlye/Entertainment Department

Diamond Jones, 21, is a St.Louis native, born on the west side of Detroit. She is currently a junior, studying Journalism, with a minor in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Her writing reaches to audiences everywhere, directing it toward the empowerement and excellence of black people and their accomplishments. She has written for The Daily Egyptian, LoveThisTrackTV, Georgia State’s The Signal and the National Association of Black Journalists, which she is a dedicated member of. She hopes to continue to inspire those through her words and make those who feel underrepresented, see their light.

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