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TGJ Roundtable: Did Mo’Nique “Blackball” Herself?

Published: Tuesday 3rd Mar 2015 by Sam

*Pinned: Posts Resume As Normal Below*

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Welcome to the latest TGJ Roundtable!

Over the years, That Grape Juice has established a distinguished voice that – whether loved or loathed – sparks discussion, debate, and on occasion drama!

Though comprised of seasoned writers who share a similar outlook on Urban Pop culture, the idiosyncrasies of the TGJ team members often lend for quite heated debates “behind the scenes” about the hottest topics.

Now, we give you a front row seat to the show. In a format similar to ‘The View’ or ‘The Real’, TGJ editors – Sam, David, Rashad, and Joe – get real in a very candid way.

Today’s roundtable topic asks…

Did Mo’Nique Blackball Herself?

Sam

Like ‘Precious’ director Lee Daniels has said, I believe Mo’Nique ultimately blackballed herself.

Many took aim at his controversial view that she demonstrated “reverse racism” in her (mis)handling of the movie’s promotion. However, I totally see what he means.

From where I’m sitting, he’s basically trying to say (without saying it verbatim) that Mo’Nique was showcasing the same flavour of discrimination towards the (largely) White producers, studio, investors, and co that has often been shown to Black people historically. She was being stubborn and essentially going out of her way to “fight the power” when it wasn’t against her. That’s not to minimise or gloss over the racism that many of “my people” still experience; it’s sadly real and very much part of the Black reality – even in 2015. That said, I’m speaking solely about Mo and how she behaved in the run up to her Oscar win. 

I honestly feel a Caucasian actor or actress who refused to “work” the campaign trail would suffer the same consequences. In every strata of life, there is a game to be played and those who “win” are those who get their game on!

Does she think Denzel or Angela Bassett didn’t have to play real-life chess to enjoy the success and respect they have today? Or Kerry Washington? Or Viola Davis? Taraji? Will Smith? Idris Elba? Or the countless Caucasian stars that populate the Hollywood landscape?

Not for a single second do I buy her excuse that she “had” to snub the promo trail due to commitments to family and that awful, awful talk show. And even if it was the case, it doesn’t demonstrate much foresight on her part. After all, “playing ball” and pushing ‘Precious’ to the max would have benefitted her earning potential in the longterm – which in turn would have benefitted her family. Again, making her actions at best misguided. Although, foolish is the term I’d first draw on.  

Reputation is a fragile thing and when one’s team makes unprofessional moves (such as Mo’s request to get paid for appearances to promote her own movie) there’s a high risk that rep will be stained.

As such, putting my personal love for her aside, she really needs to have several seats on this one. Maybe the downtime will help her re-evaluate the actions of her team and enable them to collectively brainstorm a way out of her current predicament. She’s too talented to have her post-Oscar career defined by this episode.

**************

David

Miscommunication seems to be the biggest problem.

For, Mo’Nique and Daniels seem to be saying the same things but begin to differ when sharing what they believe those “things” meant when assessing the success of the movie.

In Mo’s case, her decision to spend time with her family and not take a promotional trip to Cannes was harmless. However, it spelled troubled for Lee, who saw the seemingly innocent move as anything but.

The result? Mo’Nique’s alleged “blackballing.” Unfortunately, this incident serves as a reminder to anyone hoping to “get in the biz” that success in this game is oft based on what one is willing to do…and not what one can do.

Here’s hoping the coming years see the former pals put their differences aside to create content just as moving as ‘Precious’ and Daniel’s game-changing TV series ‘Empire.’

**************

Rashad

The Oscars have always a kiss-of-death award for African American actresses. From Hattie to Halle to J.Hud and even Whoopi, when Black women won Oscars 1) it was usually for a role that was…erm…questionable and 2) mostly everything they touched after the win was far from box office gold. For the longest, I just thought maybe Mo’Nique fell in the same category, but I am pleased to now know otherwise. I see validity in Daniels’ argument for it seems that he is saying (without directly saying) that Mo’s ‘diva demands’ were unwarranted for a limited actress of her stature – Academy Award or not. But, while I am not justifying any arrogance, I am a firm believer that you don’t tell people how to treat you – you show them.

With that, I’ll have to play devil’s advocate and swing for her team here.

I get that “the game,” be it Uncle Tomming, brown-nosing, strategic self-marketing, selling out, or whatever you want to call it, is one that requires much, but, kudos to her for not feeling the need to conform and, essentially, put her needs and/or wants ahead of “a game” that would make money off of her name regardless of her involvement in the promo or not.
To piggyback off of Sam’s thought, being the first or one of few “minority” anything – from entertainment to politics – is always accompanied by a humbling, but sometimes overwhelming pressure to be appreciative for being “one of the few who made it.” It’s like you’re forced to accept your award on behalf of those who paved the grounds, your contemporaries who couldn’t make it, and the little black girls of the future who are on their way to Oscar gold. I agree that to some degree people should feel obligated to accept that pressure, but I do not think it is mandatory they do.

Maybe Mo’Nique did feel her other engagements were more pressing than doing promo for a movie she’d already done promo for. But, at the end of the day, if she feels satisfied with the decision she made, then she’s the one who won here. Whether she works again or not, she’ll forever be Academy Award-winning Mo’nique.

**************

Joe

Though it might be the reason she’s hasn’t been in any major movie since her Oscar win, I commend Mo’Nique’s courage in this situation. I respect her for staying true to who she is, as an actress, a woman, a human being.

It is very important to know your worth, not only in the entertainment industry but in life, you should never settle for less – especially not if the end game isn’t favorable to your battle. If we tell her to “play the game”, surely Tinsel Town must do the same when it comes to her and give her  “priviledges” – for lack of a better word – that match her Academy Award Winner status. We can talk about not bringing race into this but that would be hypocritical because it is indeed a factor in this story, same goes for gender.

I sincerely hope both Mo’Nique and Hollywood can compromise and meet in the middle, it would be a lesson for everyone involved as well as for the generations of tomorrow.

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Do you agree with our points? Who was spot on? Let us know your thoughts on the latest TGJ Roundtable and the Mo’Nique “blackballing” drama below!

Your thoughts?

Comments 18

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  1. christinastherealtalent March 3, 2015

    No. Lee Daniels has only been relevant for 5 minutes. How long has Monique been relevant? My point exactly! Lee blackballed her and needs to show more respect to those who helped paved the way not just for bitter queens like him but black people in general.

    • Faf March 3, 2015

      I don’t think she did

      I think the problem is she wasn’t respectable by hollywoods beauty standards other tHan playing a druggy abusive mother
      There’s not much room for plus sized black women, unfortunately so when u get an Oscar u understandably don’t wanna play Nikki Parker types anymore

      But I could see Monique on a crime drama tbh like as a detective
      At least on lifetime

    • AnnaMaeKeatingsNewWig March 3, 2015

      Only been relevant for five minutes? so let’s forget that he was a producer for “Tennessee” and “Precious”, or “Monster’s Ball’ which was the first movie to have a woman of colour win ‘Best Actress in a leading role’. I do think he is being very bitchy about Mo’Nique though

  2. dd March 3, 2015

    Came down to money…lee just blackballed her…this is a chance for monique to produce with her name and make more money. But hollywood has not…scripts come in but she didnt take the roles…now she gone get all type of work

  3. (Rihyonce) March 3, 2015

    Lee Daniels should have just kept his mouth closed !!

  4. D420 March 3, 2015

    I am on Mo’Nique’s side on this one. I understand that you have to play the game, but you also have to know your worth. Mo’Nique is very talented and at the end of the day you just couldn’t deny her performance in Precious. And whether she has been “blackballed” or not she is still Academy Award Winner Mo’Nique. And if roles don’t come in, she can always create her own.

  5. TheElusiveLamb March 3, 2015

    It appears to me that Mo’Nique didn’t take this movie as serious as Lee wanted her to. Instead of doing promo, she wanted to be with her family bc this movie was originally to be another straight to DVD movie, but due to Mariah, Oprah,and etc it ended up in the movie theaters. Mo’Nique was later given a bad name by Lee, bc she didn’t campaign the movie and won an Oscar. She did not thank Lee, so in turn he gave her a bad name. I think either one of them are innocent, so I wish both of them would hush and enjoy the royalties from Precious in peace. She needs to promote Blackbird and he needs to continue writing great scripts for Empire. End of. -TheElusiveLamb

    • TheElusiveLamb March 3, 2015

      I think neither*

  6. FutureCIARA March 3, 2015

    In the end, This is all PR, Why else would they be speaking about this topic 34713821789 years later, While they both have projects buzzing.

  7. Thando March 3, 2015

    Well this is a complex situation largely due to the racial component of it.

    Well what it boils down to in the end is that it’s business. The main thing to consider here is that what does her contract say about promotion? I find it highly unlikely that actors get paid to do promotion when their trips are fully paid for plus hotel stay. Not to mention the awesome amount of money movie studios spend on promotion costs.

    secondly, she chose the career. Celebrities need to understand that the kind of career that show business is, some sacrifices need to be made. I remember last week they broadcast Oprah’s life class here in South Africa and she said something so honest and so true, she said she took a decision not to have children because she knew that the kind of career she choose demanded such a painful sacrifice. Not that celebs shouldn’t have children but don’t cite your children when you must jobs that come with the reality of being a successful actor.

    Lastly, whether you want to here it or not, movies rely on the money of PEOPLE WHO DON’T WANT TO LOOSE IT EASILY. Movie producers risk loosing a LOT of money every time they sponsor it because you can never be really sure whether a movie will be a hit or it will tank. So I think it’s natural that movie producers try and influence every single detail or feature of a picture that they think will assist in making the movie more bankable. This is the harsh nature of capitalism, or what they call “playing the game”. Of course there’s race, but in this instance I think it was just a case of miscommunication and a lot I mean a LOT of ego and arrogance. I won’t say who the arrogance was from, but I think you all know who.

  8. MISHKA March 3, 2015

    “I can’t eat Oscar, Oscar won’t pay the rent”

    Who would want to hire someone who says things like this?

    Precious was a surprise hit, and Mo’Nique the stand up comedian got lucky. And it all stopped there as it should have.

    If you want respect, don’t give b****.

  9. Casual-T March 3, 2015

    I’m riding with Sam on this one. If there is a choice between campaigning for an Oscar and cutting another engagement, you campaign for the Oscar. And why shouldn’t Lee Daniels be indignant for not being thanked in her speech, though I don’t believe her assertion is true. It’s common practice to shout out others on the crew when receiving an Oscar. Through the interviews Mo’Nique has done of late, she pretty much confirmed the bad rep she has in the industry for being difficult.

  10. Miss Pretty PuZy March 3, 2015

    Yawn!!! My cousin interned for BET a few years ago and it was NO SECRET that Monique was a super b****. She burned A LOT of bridges and idk if she can ever truly bounce back because almost no one wants to work with her & her husband! #TRUETEA

  11. trose March 3, 2015

    Love this topic sam!!!!!
    Well i personally feel Monique was going against the grain which it was her perogative to do so and that’s fine but if ypu do choose to make demands you have to deal with any consequences that may follow including a stained reputation what have you.i feel Monique on the stand for something or fall for anything BUT realize there are consequences sometimes woth your choices. So yes she has been black balled. She chose not to thank the prpducers, she chose not to thank the studio,she chose not to thank Lee,she chose not to do promo and LEE mad a choice and chose not to talk good of her…he chose not to cast her…so to an extent yes she was black balled but it was a result of her choices. For every action there is a reaction.

  12. trose March 3, 2015

    Also when you are black you have to be very careful with your CHOICES. We dont get to many second chances. We have to CHOOSE our battles wisely.

  13. King March 3, 2015

    I’m with Rashad. Many people have “played the game” that Lee has talked about and still get Blackballed. Especially when it comes to African American women in Hollywood. Many play the game and STILL don’t get the recognition that they deserve (Angela Bassett is a prime example, she doesn’t even get invited to the Oscars and she’s an Oscar nominee). Octavia Spencer has won an Oscar and still doesn’t get great roles. I respect Mo’nique for not putting too much emphasis on an accolade. She has stated that the movie and the performance were the reward, not the acting awards that came after.

  14. Credits March 3, 2015

    But everyone is failing to touch on the fact that she was only paid 50,000 dollars for the role….when it became critically acclaimed and successful, had they compensated her for it, maybe she would have gone out to promote. Her performance got them the Oscar nomination, and for that, they should have played the game, they should have kissed mo’s ass. They knew it would be her on that podium, they should have buttered her ass up until after her speech if they wanted recognition that night.

  15. Shaquinisha-rose March 4, 2015

    I thought it all came down to the fact that once she won the Oscar she thought her sh*t no longer stunk. She demanded top dollar and wouldn’t take any less. She has now realised that “oops that doesn’t happen”, that why she said it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In Hollywood you are hot one day, and cold the next. It has happened to countless Oscar winner, both black and white. There are only a handful of winners whom constantly gain recognition for their work, i.e Meryl Streep, Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman etc…Being a B*tch in Hollywood was once looked upon favourably (to some degree) but it isn’t anymore.

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