Winning an Academy Award is supposed to be life-changing. It's supposed to come with respect, money, and open the doors to new and exciting projects. Unfortunately, that is not what happened after Mo'Nique won Best Support Actress for her role in Precious in 2010.
"It should come with more respect, more choices and more money. It should, and it normally does," Mo'Nique told The Hollywood Reporter. "I thought, once you won the award, that's the top prize -- and so you're supposed to be treated as if you got the top prize."
Instead, in the years that followed, Mo'Nique found the roles she did manage to get offers for suddenly taken away, resulting in a five-year hiatus from acting.
"I got a phone call from Lee Daniels maybe six or seven months ago. And he said to me, 'Mo'Nique, you've been blackballed,'" the actress recalled. "And I said, 'I've been blackballed? Why have I been blackballed?' And he said, "Because you didn't play the game." And I said, 'Well, what game is that?"' And he gave me no response."
It seems a large part of the issue is Mo'Nique's famous refusal to campaign for the Oscar, which the actress pointed out was "an award that I didn't ask for." In her acceptance speech, Mo'Nique thanked the Academy "for showing that it can be about the performance and not the politics."
Now, the politics have come back to bite her. Mo'Nique says Daniels offered her the role in The Butler that Oprah Winfrey ended up playing, the role as Richard Pryor's grandmother in his upcoming biopic and a role on Empire, but all were taken off the table due to her poor reputation in Hollywood. But Mo'Nique claims all the allegations against her for being hard to work with is in reality only her refusal to be taken advantage of (something women, and women of color in particular, often are subjected to within the industry).
"Whoever those people are who say, 'Mo'Nique is difficult,' those people are either heartless, ruthless or treat people like they're worthless. And that's unacceptable. They're set to say, 'Mo'Nique is tactless; she's tacky.' That's why I have my beautiful husband, because he's so full of tact, 'cause I'm a girl from Baltimore. I come from a blue-collar town -- and being from that place, you learn not to let anybody take advantage of you. You don't let people mistreat you. You stand up for what's right," Mo'Nique said.
Daniels generally confirmed Mo'Nique's account of what happened following her win for Precious in a statement to THR: "Mo'nique is a creative force to be reckoned with. Her demands through Precious were not always in line with the campaign. This soured her relationship with the Hollywood community. I consider her a friend. I have and will always think of her for parts that we can collaborate on. However, the consensus among the creative teams and powers thus far were to go another way with these roles."