Is Mo'Nique killing her Oscar chances?

Mo-Nique_lBack in July I interviewed Mo’Nique about her phenomenal performance as an abusive mother in Lee Daniels’ drama Precious. When I inevitably asked her about all the Oscar talk that’s surrounded her since the film’s Sundance premiere in January, she responded by saying, “Any buzz is appreciated. The NAACP Image Awards, the Oscars, the SAG Award, the award they might want to give me down at the Maxine Waters’ Preparatory school, it’s always appreciated. But the moment Mr. Daniels said to me when we wrapped that movie, ‘You gave me what I needed,’ that was my Oscar.” At the time, I thought, “What an interesting way to deflect the question.” Now I’m thinking she really meant what she said. Last month, The Hollywood Reporter‘s Roger Friedman reported that Mo’Nique was demanding appearance fees to show up at film festivals to promote Precious. And after she was a no-show at both the Toronto and New York festivals, the New York Daily News quoted her as saying, “I couldn’t eat that Oscar. Everybody needs money, baby. That’s how we survive, right?”

Now, I’d like to think that winning an Academy Award is only about the performance. But we all know that’s not true. You have to play the game as well. Many observers still believe one of the reasons Marion Cotillard beat Julie Christie for Best Actress two years ago is because Cotillard worked the circuit hard, especially in the final stretches, while Christie mostly stayed home in England. On its own, Mo’Nique’s blazing performance is surely strong enough to score her a supporting actress nomination, but unless Lionsgate (or Precious exec producer Oprah Winfrey) can convince her to show up at some events and not expect a six-figure fee, I wonder if she can kiss a win goodbye. It’s too bad, because in conversation, Mo’Nique is hilarious and endearing; she’d only help her case by meeting Oscar voters in person. For now, however, she doesn’t seem to care.

Photo credit: John Ricard/Retna Ltd.

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  • Wes

    What she doesn’t seem to understand is that if she wants money, Oscar is a quick route. Her price would go up with a nomination (and of course even more with a win). Not to mention she’d see a better class of scripts, which apparently also doesn’t matter to her. How did she luck into Precious in the first place?

    • Ama

      The roles for african american women of any size are few and in between. The oscar won’t make much of a difference in career. It is not like there are a lot of scripts with strong african american female roles. And she did not luck into the role. she worked with lee daniels in the past. If she truly does not want the oscar,then that is fine. what I don’t like is the request for money? If Mariah Carey can work to promote the movie, I don’t see why she need money to get to the festivals. It is very selfish.

      • SOKOLATA

        Mariah can do it because she is a multi millionaire. Monique is a hard working comedian that doesn’t have it as good.

        Maybe she needs the money and her time is precious. Not every celebrity is filthy rich!!


      • Aaron

        “Mariah can do it because she is a multi millionaire” umm….how in god’s name does that have anything to do with showing up at premieres? you seriously think these stars pay themselves to show up? Hell no! The studio execs pay for the stars to appear in order to boost the film’s publicity factor.

        Mo’Nique seems like a very nice person, but this move on her is ridiculous. Regardless of Oscars aside, why isn’t she promoting this film like the rest of the cast? I just saw this at NYFF, and it’s an extremely powerful film. She should take pride in it, for everyone in the audience was emotionally impacted by it.

        It really is odd. Mo’Nique has never been a critically acclaimed actress. Hell, two years ago she hosted Charm School, for chrissakes! You’d think she’d at least make an effort for what is likely to be a performance to change her life (she really is phenomenal in the movie). If she continues with this attitude, she will (unfortunately) lose this Oscar. She has the ladies from Nine and The Lovely Bones on her tail, and what is likely to be her biggest competition (IMO), Julianne Moore in A Single Man, who is one of the most respected actresses working today and who is criminally Oscarless.

  • Ed

    If it’s money she’s concerned with, then getting the Oscar will mean more money down the road. Demanding higher appearance fees now is silly; it comes off as pretentious and it may be a poor financial decision in the long term. If she gets an Oscar, not only will it give her worldwide exposure, but her asking price for everything will go up. The little extra she gets now from appearance fees could be significantly trumped by the extra she’ll get in her future film/TV salaries, endorsements, and appearance fees.

  • Stacey

    Wow. She’s quite the diva. Expecting money to promote her movies at festivals. Unbelievable. Yeah, she can kiss any chance at glory if she continues on this track. While you have to play the game. If you get a rep for bad decisions. No Oscar. Since there are rumors Eddie Murphy’s turn in Norbit killed his chance at Oscar for Dreamgirls. It’s very greedy to expect money to promote at a festival. Especially a large pay out. But that is me.

  • Brian


  • John

    She’s an idiot. She had a syndicated radio show and decided to hold negotiations over the air and got fired. So this seems par for the course. She must be holding out for Phat Girlz 2.

  • Erika

    Trash is as Trash does.

    • Nia


      That is really not necessary.

  • fancypants

    i cannot believe her attitude. as a black woman i can’t stand how low quality black films can be and how dense some black actors can also be. not everything is about money! can we start making some quality films and expecting better of ourselves?! monique is known for what–mediocre sitcoms–and this is how she’s going to treat a chance at an Oscar? this is pissing me off on so many levels.

    • chamlo

      Thanks fancypants for acknowledging that you are pissed off. So am I! As another black women, I get mad when we put it all down to money. And what about promoting the movie in appreciation of the director, or to promote a quality film with a majority black cast?

      • LoveTV

        You said it chamlo!! If it is a quality film then she should promote it. She should also know than Oscar when means she can ask for more money going forward.

  • orville

    It’s strange that her publicist or manager hasn’t pointed out the monetary benefits of an Oscar nomination/win. She should be pounding the “Oscar circuit” hard right now. In addition, if she keeps demanding money for appearances, whether she gets the nomination in the end or not, she’ll be labelled as difficult and diva-ish. And she’s just not a big enough star to overcome the damage that will do to her reputation in the eyes of casting directors and the like.

    • Stefanie

      Her publicist did recognize this and quit when she refused to show up to the New York Film Festival.

  • Sebastion

    I hope that her work would speak for itself. She is AMAZING in this role. So powerful. I dont believe it when people say that there is not enough roles for African Americans. I believe that your work should speak for itself and if you dont have the talent dont use race as an excuse. I am going to win an Oscar one day and it will be great. GO MONIQUIE!!

    • DaTruth82

      Actually, Sebastion, Hollywood doesn’t believe movies with predominantly black actors or even starring a black actor will sell. Be honest, if it weren’t for Tyler Perry, many talented black actors would be out of work. The same thing goes for TV. 70%-80% of what I see on TV features white people, white actors, or white performers. Again, the idea is that if black people are the stars, it won’t sell. The exceptions are few and in-between (how many Beyonce’s, Jay-Z’s and Rihanna’s are there?). So, it’s not racist. It’s reality. An unfortunate reality.

  • bunker

    Maybe she’s just busy with her new nightly talk show?

    I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’ve always liked Mo’Nique, so I hope she doesn’t ruin her chances at an Oscar, if in fact she actually deserves one.

  • Malaika

    This is a rumor that has been spread, word-for-word amongst some gossip sites. I’ve seen it refuted numerous times, but people love a good rumor.

    At Lionsgate, a spokesperson insists this isn’t true. “Mo’Nique is doing the ‘Today’ show for us, she’s coming to the New York Film Festival. She had scheduling conflicts for Cannes and Toronto, but she did come to the Sundance festival. We’re not paying her to do anything.”

    The REAL reason she failed to promote the film at the festivals is because she has been working on her talk show premiering in early October, and because she is taking care of her young children.

    Her on the Today show: /

    And she will be at the New York Film Festival.

    • Ibad

      Um, is she going to take the time machine back to the Precious screening at the NYFF? Because…she really wasn’t there.

  • Anna

    Sebastion, if you can’t get work, how’s your work going to “speak for itself?” I’m curious to know how you think that make sense. I realize that that the quantity and quality of roles is not nearly as bad as it was even 10 years ago but your statement is ridiculous.

  • Shia

    Is her husband her manager? If he is, then that explains a lot. What an idiot she is, she needs to remember that roles like this come once in a lifetime and her attitude is going to reflect her altitude…Career done.

  • aughra

    Looks like no one’s taken her aside (Oprah?) and taught her professionalism. If you wanna keep making the big money in Hollywood, you do the footwork–for free. You do the talkshow circuit, be happy and humble. Pay the dues, work hard, and stay hungry (not greedy).

    Otherwise, you’re back to where you came from or–these days–looking for a reality TV show. Yeah, that’s money too, but it’s also a professional-career-killer.

    • LoveTV

      Perfectly stated!!!

  • Amanda Griffin

    An Oscar win doesn’t mean that you will get more money down the road, if anything, it means that you will get looked over for a lot of roles. Halle Berry said that once she got her Oscar, her monetary demands were never met and she had to start taking pay cuts in order to get parts. So the Oscar doesn’t mean anything but the signature “Academy Award Winner” or some type of headline.

    Malaika I agree with you, this isn’t the full story, there is a lot missing. I remember listening to her radio show and she was promoting the movie then when it was called “Push” (orginal name, had to change it because of the other movie “Push”). Everyday since it won that award at the film fesitval, she talked about it; so why would she stop now? But Mo is starting her TV show soon, so that might have something to do with it. Not everyone can be everywhere, when they first started promoting this movie, Mo wasn’t even the headliner. The headliners were suppose to be Paula Patton, Lenny Kravitz, and the girl who plays Precious (can’t think of her name); Mariah Carey, Mo’Nique and Sherri Sheppard were all suppose to be supporting cast so maybe that’s why she wasn’t there. All the rumors states that the movie is dead on the book and in the book, Mo’s character didn’t have a big role.

    • Tiffany

      Amanda I don’t agree. Look at Viola Davis for her supporting role in Doubt. She was in that movie for a total of 7-8 minutes and she got nominated. So it doesn’t matter how big or small your role is. You have to be out there to get recognized so people will know who to potentially vote for. And I can understand if there was a scheduling conflict with her talk show. That’s perfectly understandable. But don’t neglect being there and supporting your movie just because you don’t think it matters. Come Oscar season, it definitely will matter.

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