In 2009, Mo’Nique won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her part in Lee Daniels’ Precious. While Oscars typically result in more — and better — work for actors, Mo’Nique, however, hasn’t worked much since Precious (although she does have a small, independent film due out in April).
Why? There’s a long backstory to this that FilmDrunk has already covered, but here’s the short version: Mo’Nique claims that Lee Daniels called her and told her that she’d been blackballed by the Hollywood community because she “didn’t play the game.” Mo’Nique doesn’t think she was blackballed by the “Hollywood community” so much as she was shunned by Lee Daniels, personally, as she told Good Morning America (via THR):
“People were saying, ‘Someone needs to teach Mo’Nique a lesson because she’s not playing the game, and she’s gonna get in her own way of winning this award, because it seems like she’s choosing her family over Hollywood. I don’t think Hollywood has turned his nose up to me. I think that those are feelings that Mr. Daniels is having.
“And then he said, ‘You know, there were things that Mo’Nique — she didn’t thank the producers and she didn’t thank the studio, and that’s just not things that you do,” she continued. “Well, it had nothing to do with the producers, nor the studio. Mr. Daniels had a problem that I didn’t say his name the night of the Oscar awards.”
Basically, according to Daniels, Mo’Nique is a “friend.” According to Mo’Nique, Daniels shut her out because she didn’t thank him when she won the Oscar for Precious. But if Daniels shut her out, why did he offer her a couple of very plum roles, according to Mo’Nique?
Well, actually, I was offered the role in The Butler that Oprah Winfrey played. I was also approached by Empire to be on Empire.
So, if Daniels offered her those roles, then it wasn’t Daniels who shunned her, was it? Again, Mo’Nique, via THR:
For each of the roles, [Lee] called me. He’s always approached me first, and I’m appreciative of it, because I think he is one of the most brilliant visionaries in writing and directing. I’ll say this: Whenever you do see me on TV again, or in the movies, you’ll know somebody played me fairly.
So, the implication here is that Daniels offered her these choice roles, and that she didn’t get them because she wasn’t treated “fairly?” But did Daniels actually offer Mo’Nique a role in Empire? According to Mo’Nique, she was offered the role of Cookie Lyon (which eventually went to Taraji P. Henson):
“Mr. Daniels offered me the part of Cookie, and I have the emails and the sides to go along with it, and what he said was, ‘I’m new to this TV thing. This is just a technicality, … you have the role,'” she said. “Okay. I have the emails. Well, four days have gone by because I didn’t receive a phone call or another email for the location of where I was supposed to go to do this screen test.”
Is that even true? Not according to Danny Strong, co-creator of Empire and the screenwriter of The Butler:
Daniels did not respond to that tweet. Yet, despite the fact that Mo’Nique clearly seems to be throwing Daniels under the bus here, Strong continues to be nice to her:
What’s going on here? Daniels said that Mo’Nique was blackballed. Mo’Nique denied that and simply said that Daniels shunned her, but according to Mo’Nique, he also offered her two roles, which didn’t work out because Daniels didn’t play “fair” with her, maybe because she didn’t thank him at the Oscars? Unless, of course, she wasn’t offered those roles, in which case… I am thoroughly confused. This exchange doesn’t clear anything up, either:
Who is telling the “lies?” The tweet would seem to imply that it’s Mo’Nique (Gabourey Sidibe, after all, works on Empire with Lee Daniels now), and she backs her up?
Whatever the case here, Daniels seems to have impeccable restraint, and he’s laughing all the way to the bank because Empire just saw its record ratings soar again.