Black Entertainment Drama: Mo’Nique vs. Lee Daniels, Tyler Perry & Oprah Winfrey
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Comedian and award-winning actress Mo’Nique is a renowned stand-up comedian and actress for her iconic roles as Nicole “Nikki” Parker in The Parkers (1999-2004), Moesha (1996-2001), and Precious (2009). Mo’Nique’s career has landed her great success, accolades, and even dubbing her one of the Queens of Comedy; however, Mo’Nique’s career has taken a screeching halt within the last few years due to some backlash from some of the biggest black entertainment influencers today—Lee Daniels, Tyler Perry, and Oprah Winfrey.
In several interviews, podcasts, and radio shows, Mo’Nique has called out Perry, Winfrey, and Daniels allegedly stating that they have ruined her career after she declined to participate in the Precious campaigns—for free. Precious is a 2009 American drama film produced by Lee Daniels starring the debut of actress Gabourey Sidibe. The film is about a young woman struggling against poverty and abuse. Mo’Nique portrays Mary, as an abusive mother with bottled anger and jealousy directed at her daughter (Precious) stemming from two pregnancies as a product of rape by her father.
Mo’Nique rejected the idea of working for free and said she has felt “blackballed” for decades because of it. She is referring to the consequences she has faced since receiving the Oscar for Precious in 2010 such as loss of revenue, appointing gender and racial biases in entertainment streaming services (Netflix), family troubles, and losing out on several acting roles given the perception that she is too difficult to work with. She believes that she fulfilled her contractual responsibilities and obligations and that working for free to promote Precious was not a part of the deal. Read more in The Hollywood Reporter.
Tyler Perry (born Emmitt Perry Jr.) is an American actor, producer, director, and screenwriter. He is best known for the creation of Madea, a tough elderly woman. Perry wrote and produced many stage plays that have been subsequently adapted to films. Much of Perry’s work relates to his personal life–experiences with suicidal ideation, homelessness, depression, molestation, and abuse. Perry’s most notable work includes his Madea franchise Tyler Perry’s House of Payne and his contribution to black entertainment. Forbes magazine listed him as the highest-paid man in entertainment in 2011, earning around $130M in 2010-2011. The same year that Mo’Nique won an Oscar for Precious.
In 2012, Perry secured a multi-year partnership with Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network by creating hit TV shows like the crime drama The Haves and the Have Nots. As of 2022, he is the eighth highest-paid entertainer. Oprah Winfrey needs no introduction! She’s a talk show host, actress, producer, author, philanthropist, and humanitarian. In 2003, she was listed in Forbes magazine as the first African American woman billionaire. Like Perry, Winfrey has also lived a tumultuous life–born into poverty, raised in inner-city Milwaukee, WI., experienced molestation, a miscarriage, and an array of emotional turmoil. Yet she remains one of the most influential women in the world. Winfrey’s journey has landed her dozens of accomplishments, accolades, and victories that led to her own production company in the 1990s. Her talk show ran from 1986-to 2011 over the course of 29 seasons.
Lee Daniels is an American film producer, director, and screenwriter. His production debut created the film Monster’s Ball (2001), for which Halle Berry won the Academy Award for Best Actress, making Daniels the first African American film producer to solely produce an Oscar-winning film. He directed a wide variety of films including Shadowboxer (2005), Precious (2009), The Paperboy (2012), The Butler (2013), and The United States vs. Billie Holiday (2021). Daniels also co-created and co-executive produced the music industry TV shows Empire (2015-2020) and Star (2016-2019).
At the time of Precious’ premiere, the film did not have a distributor. Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey then announced that they would provide promotional assistance for the film. The intention was that Mo’Nique would assist in promoting the movie by attending award ceremonies, carpets, marketing campaigns, and other devices of promotions—all for free. Because of Mo’Niques’ demands to be paid, she was labeled as difficult to work with. Watch the interview with TV host Steve Harvey and Mo’Nique for more details.
Mo’Nique released a secretly recorded conversation with Tyler Perry about any money accumulated by Precious being unfairly distributed between all parties, leaving Mo’Nique with the lesser piece of the pie. Take a look at some of the exchanges below. (WARNING: content contains profanity/vulgar language)
Mo’Nique is not against Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey just happens to be a part of the feud given her exclusive deal with Perry. Mo’Nique still has a profound love for these individuals, but she knows her worth. Not promoting the film for free is one thing, but not making any big coin from the film is another. In 2018, Mo’Nique sued Netflix for racial and gender biases for a comedy special offering $500,000, which is significantly less than her male and white counterparts and exacerbates the pay gap experienced by black entertainers, specifically women. Mo’Nique has taken one hit after another and all this began with her 2010 Oscars speech. What are your thoughts– is this a greed for money or a stand for equal pay?