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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?
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.
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.’
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.
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.
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!