Why Hollywood Won't Cast Mo'Nique Anymore

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Monique Angela Hicks — better known by her stage name Mo'Nique — was poised to become one of Hollywood's biggest stars when she took home the Academy Award for best actress in a supporting role for playing Mary Lee Johnston in the 2009 film, Precious. The abusive and manipulative character was in stark contrast to the playful and vibrant personality the stand-up comedian displays on stage. But nailing the dark and sinister role showed everyone that she was versatile and ready to take the entertainment biz by storm.

Only, things didn't quite pan out that way for the Maryland native. Instead of her career trajectory proceeding on a steady incline, she seemingly disappeared from the big screen. Her IMDb page even details a years-long, unexplained hiatus from the industry. Puzzling. So, what happened? From rumors this multi-talent became money-hungry and too demanding, to the accusation that she didn't "play the game," here's the real reason why Hollywood won't cast Mo'Nique anymore.

When Mo'Nique turned down Cannes, the studio said, 'Adieu.'

There was a ton of buzz about Mo'Nique being an Oscars contender after the release of Precious, and in order to increase her chances of taking home the award, she was asked to schmooze with other A-listers and promote the movie at various film festivals. However, according to the New York Daily News, Mo'Nique was a no-show at the New York Film Festival, and she also skipped out on the Toronto Film Festival "when she was denied a $100,000 appearance fee."

"You want me to campaign for an award — and I say this with all the humility in the world — but you want me to campaign for an award that I didn't ask for," Mo'Nique told The Hollywood Reporter. When she was called out for allegedly refusing to promote the film, Mo'Nique revealed to CNN's Don Lemon that she was only paid $50,000 to appear in the award-winning film. She also implied that the travel costs associated with promoting the film were prohibitive, and since the studio refused to pay her to make the promotional appearances, she chose not to do them.

Mo'Nique told Lemon that after her decision to "respectfully decline" the studio's invitation to fly to France to attend the Cannes Film Festival, the narrative changed to the celeb being difficult and demanding, thus pushing her out of the limelight.

Did Mo'Nique throw shade in her Oscars speech?

Executive produced by Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey, and directed by Lee Daniels, Precious was released in 2009 to glowing accolades. Based on the novel Push by the author Sapphire, Precious tells the story of an overweight girl, Claireece "Precious" Jones, played by Gabourey Sidibe, and her abusive mother, Mary Lee Johnston, played by Mo'Nique.

On the night of March 7, 2010, Mo'Nique showed up to the 82nd Academy Awards in her elegant royal blue evening gown. As the late comedian Robin Williams announced her as the winner for best actress in a supporting role, everyone in attendance at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, Calif. collectively rose to their feet to give her a standing ovation. Yas! This was her moment!

However, the opening line of her acceptance speech rubbed many people the wrong way, when she thanked the Academy "for showing that it can be about the performance and not the politics." Wait — did she really publicly disrespect the members of the Academy? OMG. No wonder the industry won't cast her!

Mo'Nique got blackballed because she 'didn't play the game'

Mo'Nique told The Hollywood Reporter that she "was offered the role in The Butler that Oprah Winfrey played," and she even received an offer to appear an another Lee Daniels project, the highly-rated show we all now know as Fox's Empire. Daniels also reportedly offered Mo'Nique "the role as Richard Pryor's grandmother" in a biopic Daniels was slated to direct. But following her Oscar win, Mo'Nique claimed, "Each of those things that he offered me was taken off the table ... They all just went away. But that's just part of the business, you know?" 

Sometime in 2014, Mo'Nique received a call from Daniels, and it was during that phone call that he reportedly told her, "Mo'Nique, you've been blackballed," she explained to The Hollywood Reporter. When she asked for an explanation why, Daniels supposedly said, "Because you didn't play the game." 

Following the release of that interview, Daniels issued a statement, calling Mo'Nique a "creative force to be reckoned with." But then, he added that "her demands through Precious were not always in line with the campaign. This soured her relationship with the Hollywood community." Ouch. As for the post-Precious roles he offered her, Daniels said, "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."

She thought her life would change for the better ... it didn't

As an Academy Award-winning actress, surely so many doors would open, offers would come pouring in, and the entertainer's net worth would increase, right? Well, not quite — according to Mo'Nique, at least. She was under the assumption that taking home the coveted award would lead to "more respect, more choices and more money." However, she learned that wouldn't be the case. 

Mo'Nique told The Hollywood Reporter of a quote from Hattie McDaniel, the first African-American to win an Oscar for her 1939 performance in Gone with the Wind. "Hattie said, 'After I won that award, it was as if I had done something wrong.' It was the same with me," Mo'Nique said. That would certainly leave a sour taste in anyone's mouth, and while some would maybe keep their negative thoughts to themselves, Mo'Nique went on a rampage and ruffled way too many feathers.

Mo'Nique 'bad-mouthed' Hollywood heavy-hitters

During one of her most controversial stand-up routines, Mo'Nique went after the people she felt had crushed her chances of having a successful acting career. Directed toward those who were involved in the film Precious, including Lee Daniels (pictured, right), Tyler Perry, and Oprah Winfrey, Mo'Nique said they "can suck my d***k, if I had one!"

In response, Daniels appeared on Raq Rants and insisted he had supported Mo'Nique and was on her side initially. "I fought hard for her to get that job. I wanted her to get that job. And she was paid her money. She was paid the money for the budget that we had," he said in regards to the comedian receiving a $50,000 payment for appearing in the film. Daniels added, "And for her to badmouth myself — and Tyler and Oprah — is disrespectful and it's wrong. She's wrong. She's out of pocket. She's really wrong."

Is it right that she was paid $50,000 for a film that grossed over $47 million domestically, as of this writing? Perhaps not, but the way Mo'Nique publicly expressed her disappointment and anger didn't earn her any new friends in the industry, either. 

Mo'Nique called for a Netflix boycott

Next up, Mo'Nique set her sights on the digital streaming service Netflix in January 2018. Netflix reportedly offered her $500,000 to film her own stand-up comedy special. Mo'Nique felt the offer was way too low, especially in comparison to the $13 million they gave fellow comedian Amy Schumer, and Mo'Nique's offer was $19.5 million less than her male counterparts, Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle.

In an Instagram video, Mo'Nique called for a boycott of Netflix "for gender bias and color bias." She even took her crusade to The View to speak about what she deemed as unfair treatment. Mo'Nique also told Vulture that she wasn't feeling the company's low offer and she demanded they take a look at her resume, but they wouldn't budge. "So, when my husband and our attorney says, 'Well, let's go back in so we can renegotiate this,' it was 'Take it or leave it.' That's what it is," she said.

Mo'Nique pushing for more and more money is reportedly a common theme in her business dealings, dating back to the buzz she received after starring in Precious, according to the New York Daily News. But did she really think that trying to hurt a media giant like Netflix by publicizing their private negotiations would do her career more harm than good? 

No one had Mo'Nique's back

Being a veteran in the entertainment industry means Mo'Nique has a long list of famous friends, from fellow comedians, to producers and directors. When she refused to promote Precious and rumors circulated that she was nothing but trouble, she met with some of her industry pals to receive guidance and support, including Lee Daniels, Tyler Perry, Oprah Winfrey, and Steve Harvey (pictured, left), to name a few.

She later appeared on Steve Harvey's show to engage in a heated debate. During her sit-down interview, Mo'Nique told Harvey she was disappointed because when he and her friends met with her privately, they told her she had done nothing wrong, but she was furious that "none of [them], in real time, were strong enough to go publicly and say, 'We can't throw our sister under the bus.'" Harvey went on the record to say Mo'Nique was owed an apology from the bigwigs involved with Precious, but he also told Mo'Nique she needed to apologize for the hurtful things she had said about them. Uh oh. "I'm never, ever going to waver from my comedy show on that stage — that's my gift and that's my freedom," she said.

As of this writing, Harvey's attempts to help Mo'Nique wiggle her way back into everyone's good graces fell short. At this point, we're not even sure she cares to be back in Hollywood's inner circle, especially since she's forged her own path...

Who needs movies when Vegas is calling?

Hollywood may not be knocking down her door, but Mo'Nique still has a legion of fans who enjoy her sometimes raunchy jokes. Because she has held on to her popularity in the underground circuit, she has found a new home on the comedy trail. As of 2019, she was hired to headline her own residency in Las Vegas at the SLS Hostel and Casino, according to The Washington Post. The publication also stated that Mo'Nique is "the first black female comedian to have her own residency in Sin City."

After all that she has been through, Mo'Nique said she has no regrets about how things panned out for her career. While speaking with Las Vegas Weekly, she was just excited to get back on the stage and show the world what she's made of. "When you come to Mo'Nique Does Vegas, I'ma do Vegas, and you're coming for a lot of laughter, no judgment, a lot of love and a great time," she said.

Mo'Nique vs. Netflix Part II

After her Netflix boycott failed to gain traction, Mo'Nique ratcheted up her feud with the streaming service giant with a discrimination lawsuit in November 2019, CNN reports. Claiming that the company failed to offer her more money because she was a black woman, the lawsuit stated, "The terms of Netflix's offer to Mo'Nique were discriminatory based on her gender and race/color," while alleging that "the offer tried to perpetuate" the drastic pay gap that black women experience.

In addition to claiming that Netflix refused to negotiate with Mo'Nique's team, it also accused the company of lacking diversity: "Netflix has maintained a corporate culture — reaching the highest levels of senior leadership — that has been insensitive to Black workers. Relatedly, the company has been plagued by a lack of racial diversity within senior leadership, as well as across the organization."

Netflix's legal team hit back hard on Mo'Nique the following January, calling her discrimination suit "nonsensical" and claiming she failed "to explain why she was entitled to be offered what the stars to whom she compares herself were offered for creating such comedy specials" in a filed motion to dismiss her claim (via The Hollywood Reporter). As of this writing, the case remains ongoing.

Mo'Nique called out Oprah ... again

Mo'Nique and Oprah Winfrey's long-running feud hit the news again when she wrote an "open letter" to the legendary talk show host on Instagram in February 2020 to call out the perceived "disparity" in the way Winfrey treats those around her. Namely, Mo'Nique wrote how she "felt compelled" to criticize how Winfrey treats famous friends "who were accused of the same" crimes after the media mogul said she found a "silver lining" in the Harvey Weinstein allegations during a CBS This Morning interview.

"You also said 'if we make this all about Harvey Weinstein then we have lost the moment,'" Mo'Nique continued, before pointing out what she saw as hypocrisy amid the #MeToo movement. "When you either are or were going to be a part of documentary on Michael Jackson, and Russell Simmons, how is that not making it all about them?" Mo'Nique also accused Winfrey racism over her going after Simmons instead of Weinstein: "The only difference between the two is there skin color and doesn't H.W. have way more accusers?" 

Recalling a time when a 16-year-old Mo'Nique met and idolized Winfrey, the star added how she never imagined she would grow up in a world where the latter made her life "harder." Mo'Nique concluded the letter with, "Lastly, please consider standing by the people who are right and not just the 'right people.'" As of this writing, Winfrey has yet to respond, so make of all this what you will.

Mo'Nique takes her beefs public

During a February 2020 interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Mo'Nique shot down any discussion about her discrimination lawsuit against Netflix. "What I will say is we're going to see how it plays out," The Parkers star simply replied when asked about its status. However, she had plenty to say about her ongoing feuds with Lee Daniels, Oprah Winfrey, and Tyler Perry.

"If those three people ever get courageous enough to say we owe this woman and her husband [Sidney Hicks] an apology," Mo'Nique said. "Of course, I still love these people ... I don't hate these people. They're still brothers and sisters. It would have to be a public apology, not just private." When pressed on why their apologies should be public, Mo'Nique explained it wouldn't be the same if the apologies were private, saying, "I have an audiotape of Tyler Perry saying, 'You've done nothing wrong.' But he hasn't said it publicly. Oprah privately told me I did nothing wrong. They have to do this publicly so the public can see just how the powerful operate."

Mo'Nique went on to say that her power was "different" and was "spiritually" only used to love her family. "I want to be powerful so I'm strong and can be heard for my children's children," she said, before aiming one final shot at the above-mentioned trio: "To say powerful so I can push a button and shut you down. I don't want that power."

What's next for Mo'Nique?

Who needs Netflix? In early February 2020, Mo'Nique & Friends: Live from Atlanta premiered on Showtime. With appearances by the likes of Prince T-Dub, Just Nesh, Tone-X, Correy Bell, and Donnell Rawlings, the comedy special was Mo'Nique's first in over a decade — and she issued a hilarious warning to her fans a week before it aired in her The Atlanta Journal-Constitution interview. "If you have a little leakage problem, put on some coverage. I guarantee you will have a situation from laughing so hard," she explained. "That's what you need to know." 

At the time of this writing, Mo'Nique doesn't have any additional on-screen projects slated, according to her IMDb page, but she was set to headline the 2020 April Fools Comedy Jam until it was postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. So, all is not lost for Mo'Nique. Hollywood may still be warming up to her, but absolutely nothing can stop this queen of comedy from sharing her talent with the world. However, don't expect her to change for anybody. "I've always been this," Mo'Nique told The Washington Post in 2019. "If it didn't make sense, you had to make it make sense to me. So, they think I'm new, but the people that know me? They're just like, 'Man, she been that.'"