Many across Baltimore are still talking about and celebrating Baltimore-native Mo'Nique's Academy Award win for Best Supporting Actress on Sunday. It's the type of triumph that isn't just celebrated on one day. The places where Mo'Nique's win has special meaning are where other aspiring artists labor and study in hopes of having their own artistic triumphs one day.
The Baltimore School for the Arts is filled with artists in training, such as Rachel Hilson, a singer, dancer and actress. Hilson says she watched the Oscars and was inspired by all of the winners. She was, of course, particularly proud of Mo'Nique.
"I think that Mo'Nique is such an inspiration, regardless of where she is from," Hilson says. "However being from Baltimore, which is not the easiest city to live in, she is even more of an inspiration, especially to those in Baltimore."
In interviews, Mo'Nique has talked about why being in Precious, and its storyline about an abused teen who struggles to find her self-worth, was so important to her. Mo'Nique, in fact, was sexually abused at the hands of a family member. She discussed how she turned a painful part of her life into motivation to tell Precious' story in an interview with Barbara Walters, and while her performance had real-life motivation, it still took a lot for her to create such a striking performance.
"I find it really amazing how actors and actresses can transform, and that is what I am working on now — learning to be versatile and being able to transform myself into characters that are completely different from myself," Hilson says. "Her performance helped to clarify my desire to become an actress."
Hilson is confident her studies at BSA are putting her well on her way to success, "I am in an acting ensemble of 19 students, co-ed. We take voice classes, movement classes, theatre games classes, and classes in which we perform scenes. Over the course of this school year so far, I have learned a ridiculous amount. I am much more open; I am no longer afraid to let myself go. I am more confident, I speak better and clearer." Hilson will compete in the NAACP's ACT-SO competition next month and is due to work on a film in New York this summer.