In anticipation of both the Oscars on Sunday and the 75th anniversary of Hattie McDaniel's historic win, The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Woodlawn native Mo'Nique about the impact winning an Oscar for "Precious" in 2010 has had on her career.
The frank conclusion: It hasn't had the effect she was anticipating.
"What I understood was that when I won that Oscar, things would change in all the ways you're saying: It should come with more respect, more choices and more money. It should and it normally does," Mo'Nique told THR in a lengthy interview.
Perhaps most pointedly, Mo'Nique discussed a phone call she said she received from Lee Daniels, the director of "Precious." "He said to me, 'Mo'Nique, you've been blackballed.' And I said, 'I've been blackballed?' And he said, 'Because you didn't play the game.' And I said, 'Well, what game is that?' And he gave me no response. The next thing he said to me was, 'Your husband is outbidding you.'"
The "game" that Daniels refers to is likely an allusion to Mo'Nique making headlines during the 2009-2010 awards season by refusing to campaign for best supporting actress. During her acceptance speech, she thanked the Academy "for showing that it can be about the performance and not the politics."
Mo'Nique doesn't directly say what she thinks Daniels means by the "blackballed" statement. In the interview, she continued by saying she has heard people call her and her husband "difficult" to work with.
"Whoever those people are who say, 'Mo'Nique is difficult,' those people are either heartless, ruthless or treat people like they're worthless," she said in the interview. "And that's unacceptable. They're set to say, 'Mo'Nique is tactless, she's tacky.'
"That's why I have my beautiful husband, because he's so full of tact, 'cause I'm a girl from Baltimore. I come from a blue-collar town — and being from that place, you learn not to let anybody take advantage of you."
As far as the "outbidding" statement, Mo'Nique said that Daniels "never asked" what salary she was requesting for post-"Precious" roles.
In response, Lee Daniels issued a statement to THR:
"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."
In the interview, Mo'Nique outlined roles she said she was offered but "just went away": Oprah Winfrey's role in Daniels' film "The Butler" and the role of Richard Pryor's grandmother in Daniels' upcoming film about the comedian. She also said she was approached for a role on the Fox series "Empire," which Daniels executive produces.
Mo'Nique has not had a single wide theatrical release since her Oscar win. In the THR interview, she mentioned that "Blackbird," an independent movie she worked on with her husband, actor and producer Sidney Hicks, is coming out April 24. According to IMDB, she has two projects in post-production — the drama "About" and TV movie "Bessie," a biopic of blues singer Bessie Smith, in which she plays singer Ma Rainey.