Ahead of her soon-to-be released Netflix comedy special, comedian and Oscar-winning actress Mo-Nique is opening up about where she stands in Hollywood now—specifically as it relates to her relationship with Oprah Winfrey.
To refresh your memory, the Precious star accused both Winfrey and Tyler Perry years ago of “furthering rumors” that she was difficult to work with after she opted out of participating in press during the Oscars campaign for the film years ago. Her decision came much to the chagrin of director Lee Daniels, whom Mo’nique would also become estranged from before reconciling with last year. It also prompted other Hollywood heavyweights like Tyler Perry and Oprah to weigh in, which the comedian said only further blackballed her in the industry.
In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday, Mo’Nique explained her stance and why she didn’t budge at the time: “As I explained to Oprah Winfrey, I said, ‘Oprah, I’m doing a talk show. I’m doing a comedy tour. I have a husband and I have babies. I have a little bit of downtime and I’m going to take advantage of it. So I’m not going anywhere because I’m not obligated to go anywhere. I’ve done my part.’ So we mutually agreed to disagree. That was it. Next thing I know, I am considered ‘difficult’ and ‘hard to work with.’”
She continued, “It was my third marriage. My second round of children. So I understood by then that when you sacrifice everything for a place called Hollywood, you wind up being by yourself. I know the history before me. I know those stories. And not only did those women die broke, they died brokenhearted. They died lonely because they gave everything to a business—and in the end it gave them nothing.”
Mo’nique then went on to describe how she did receive somewhat of an apology from the TV legend in 2014, where the two were present at a party in celebration of Lupita Nyong’o. This would be the first time they both occupied the same space after Oprah featured Mo’nique’s brother and parents—the former of whom admitted to sexually abusing her for years when they were children—on her show a month after she took home the Academy Award.
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The sexual abuse was not a secret: Mo’Nique had referenced it while doing press for Precious, saying she returned to those dark places to play Mary. But with Mo’Nique’s fame peaking post-Oscars, Winfrey called her to inform her that her “brother had called her and he wanted to come on the show to let her know how parents can watch out for predators,” Mo’Nique says. “She then said, ‘Do you want to come on the show, because he wants to apologize to you?’ I said, ‘Oprah, I don’t want no part of that.’”
Mo’Nique did, however, give Winfrey her blessing to tape the show with her brother. But when it aired on April 19, 2010, she was horrified to see other family members featured in the episode. Not just her brother — who had served 15 years in jail for a different sex offense — but her mother, Alice Imes, her father, Gerald Imes Sr., and another brother, Stephen Imes, who downplayed the abuse on the show, telling Winfrey, ‘It really isn’t what it looks like. It’s blown out of proportion.’
Mo’Nique maintains that she and Winfrey ‘had a lengthy conversation’ before the episode in which she detailed how she and her mother ‘were not on good terms. We weren’t even speaking. Then I see the show and I can tell that my mother is trying to make a dollar. I know my family.’
As a result of their appearance, Mo’nique tried to get in contact with Oprah again to express her hurt and betrayal, but it was to no avail.
Fast forward to the aforementioned party in 2014, Mo’nique alleges that The Color Purple actress brushed off her attempt at a conversation. In response to that, The Parkers star says she later took a moment at the party itself in front of everyone to address their rift, which led to Winfrey explaining that she was unaware that her parents would be on the show and that they showed up unannounced on the day of taping.
“I’m going to look into your mother and father being on the show, because I didn’t know anything about that,” Oprah allegedly said, later adding “If I’ve done anything to offend you, I apologize.”
It should be noted that, according to Mo’Nique, she has still yet to receive an apology for the alleged blackballing Winfrey and Perry did in the aftermath of her winning the Oscar.