When Mo'Nique accepted the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 2010 for her performance in Lee Daniels' “Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire,” she opened with a pointed remark. “I would like to thank the Academy for showing that it can be about the performance and not the politics,” she said. Well, according to Daniels anyway, that might have been giving them too much credit.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the actress reveals that Daniels told her recently she had been “blackballed” by the industry as a result of not playing the “game.” As in, Mo'Nique refused to be a circus act on the circuit, turning down a number of opportunities to campaign for the performance and for the film, and she ruffled a lot of feathers as a result.
“Mo'Nique is a creative force to be reckoned with,” Daniels said in a statement to the outlet. “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.”
The roles he's talking about are the Oprah Winfrey part in the director's 2012 film “The Butler,” a part in the Daniels-produced television series “Empire” and the role of Richard Pryor's grandmother in the director's upcoming biopic, according to Mo'Nique. “Each of those things that he offered me was taken off the table,” she told THR.
So, whether all this is true or not, or whether there's nuance to what seems like a cut and dried situation, who can say? But taken at face value, what a shame. I've had a front row seat to the rigors of Oscar campaigns, and the sometimes lunacy of them, for well over a decade. I recall fully respecting Mo'Nique's decision not to attend dinner after dinner, not to talk to a million people like me – to let the work be the work. If she's being punished for that, and it's not far-fetched to think she would be, then this industry is even further up its own hindquarters than is generally assumed.