Mo’Nique has been making many a headline of late, however the actress is ready to recast the spotlight on her Oscar winning talent.
April 24th will bring with it the theatrical release of her latest movie ‘Blackbird,’ which has had critics buzzing for months.
Produced by both Mo’Nique and Isaiah Washington (who also stars), the coming-of-age film focusses on the trials of seventeen year old Randy and his tense family life, hidden sexuality, and discovery of self.
That Grape Juice caught up with Mo’ to discuss the project, as well as the ‘blackballed’ controversy, ‘Empire,’ the strides of Black actresses, and much, much more. As ever, we ask the questions you really want answers to.
Mo’Nique Shouts Out That Grape Juice
Sam (That Grape Juice): Firstly, welcome back!
Mo’Nique: Thank you, sugar.
No problem. Let’s get right into it. We’ve seen ‘Blackbird’ and we are loving it! Tell us a little about what drew you to this script?
It was a beautiful story and it’s a story that’s necessary (to tell). It needs to be told and it’s right on time. Isaiah Washington called my attorney Mr. Henderson and said that he wanted to get in contact with me and my husband, Sidney. Isaiah talked with Sidney and said that “I have something that I really I believe Mo’Nique would be great for. Something I’m was executive producing. I got to send it to you”. After reading page one, we knew that this was something we wanted to be a part of because it’s a movie that we’re really hoping will open up people’s heart and change their minds.
How do you feel you relate to your character in the film in real life?
I appreciate it for her unwavering faith. There are a lot of people that talk, but have a hard timing walking it. And what she shows is that when you truly believe, you never know what can happen.
What are you hoping viewers take away from this film?
Let me ask you as a viewer, what did you take away from it?
Love conquers all. Love of each other and love of self.
That’s exactly what we want the viewers to take away. The acceptance of oneself, the real power of the word love and the understanding of how strong your faith can be. So, we want people to walk away to be open in treating one another with love.
Also, we see you’ve teamed up with Queen Latifah for ‘Bessie.’ Tell us about your inclusion in the film?
Queen Latifah in ‘Bessie’ is absolutely fabulous. You all just get ready and my character is Ma Rainey. It was such a great time to play someone that really existed and to play this woman and love what she stood for. She loved people, she didn’t make any mess, she was very honest and she didn’t die broke.
We look forward to that. Now, many fans first fell in love with you via your comedy or television roles. Any chance we’ll see you on a forthcoming sitcom or comedy special?
I always say “who knows what the universe holds” because there was a time I would always say that I would this and that and they always say “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plan”.
So, would would you say either are in your future?
I love to laugh so I’m not going to say ‘yes or no’ but what I’m going to say is… if it makes sense.
Speaking of television, we’re seeing such a big return of women of color on TV from ‘Empire’ to ‘Scandal’ and more. What do you make of it?
I’m very happy for my sisters that are on television doing movies. I’m just happy for my sisters making it happen in whatever they are doing. Can there be some improvements? Yes.
What we are seeing is that those woman of color who are on TV today are hits (themselves). So we know now that they can make a hit, they are in hit shows. Empire with my sister Taraji, mega hit show. ‘How To Get Away With Murder,’ hit show. So, hopefully we’ll see improvements in the studios and networks. Why not open the door a little further.
Let’s change gears a bit here. We know you’ve been asked the black-balled questions a million times, so we want to take a different approach. Now that we know the story, so what are you hoping that people take away from what you’ve shared?
What I’m hoping that people would take away is be to unafraid of saying “no” when it doesn’t makes sense. Be more afraid of being silent because then become part of the problem.
Were you ever afraid that your openness would court a backlash?
No. Mo’nique is new to some people, but I’m not new to me. I’ve always been that person that if it didn’t make sense, I was going to speak up about it even if we were on the playground. “You’re taking all the toys and you’re letting the other kids play, I’m going to tell on you. That’s not fair”. So never have I been afraid of speak on it and I was actually called for (that) interview. That’s how this whole conversation came about and with the questions he asked I answered him honestly. Was I ever afraid? No, I just knew I what the truth was. Why would I be afraid?
And, what do you say to the naysayers who blame you for how the whole situation played out?
I say “I understand” because often times when you don’t have all the information it’s easy to be quick judge and during the time in my life when I was young little girl, I would do the same thing. You don’t know all the information so you’re going to quickly judge it, so I understand it. However, I will say to those people when you find out the truth will you speak it loudly?
Lastly, if Mo’Nique of 2015 could speak to her younger self, what would she tell herself?
That she was a good wife and she was a good mommy. She learned to laugh because she loved people.
‘Blackbird’ hits US theaters on April 24th.
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