Mo'Nique, the actress and comedian who won the 2009 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Precious, is calling for a boycott of Netflix. She accused the company of racial and gender bias for offering her $500,000 for a stand-up special when Amy Schumer got $13 million and Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle got $20 million each.
In an Instagram video posted over the weekend, Mo'Nique said she asked the streaming giant about the pay disparity between her and Schumer. Netflix allegedly responded by saying that $500,000 is reflective of what they believed "Mo'Nique will bring" to the company with her stand-up special.
"We said, 'What about my résumé?' They said, 'We don't go off of résumés,'" Monique recalled. She then supposedly asked why Schumer was paid such a substantial sum and received the explanation that Schumer has sold out Madison Square Garden and had a hit movie with Trainwreck.
"Is that not Amy Schumer's résumé?" Mo'Nique quipped.
According to Mo'Nique, Netflix said that she's a comedy legend like Rock or Chappelle, to which she responded,"Why shouldn't I get what the legends are getting?"
In addition to winning an Oscar, Mo'Nique's résumé includes an Emmy nomination for the TV movie Bessie, a starring role on the long-running sitcom The Parkers, and numerous hosting gigs, including her own eponymous talk show from 2009 to 2011, as well as a long career as a touring stand-up comedian.
Shortly after the video went up, Wanda Sykes, another black female comedian with a long, distinguished career, tweeted her gratitude at Mo'Nique and shared her own story of pay disparity with the company: "Thank you for speaking out, [Netflix] offered me less than half of your $500k. I was offended but found another home [Epix]."
Mo'Nique posted another video to Instagram on Sunday morning after learning of Netflix's paltry offer to Sykes. "How is that Wanda Sykes and Mo'Nique together, these two black women who have 50-plus years in the comedy game, be offered $750,000 between the both of us and Amy Schumer get $13 million?" she wondered.
The comedian clarified that her complaints have nothing to do with Schumer, nor does she bear any ill will towards her because "if our sister was able to get that, she was supposed to." But, Mo'Nique reiterated, this doesn't excuse Netflix's attempt to "low ball" successful black female comedians like herself and Sykes. "Make that make sense," she concluded.
Mo'Nique has spoken out about what she perceives of as disrespect from Hollywood before. In 2015, she told The Hollywood Reporter that Precious director Lee Daniels told her she had been "blackballed" for being "difficult" and that her manager/husband was asking for too much money.
"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," she said. "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."
Pay disparity has become a hot topic in Hollywood fueled by the #MeToo movement. Grey's Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo spoke frankly about her experience with the gender pay gap last week, and black-ish's Tracee Ellis Ross is renegotiating her contract to achieve parity with co-star Anthony Anderson. The pay gap conversation was kicked into high gear when it came out that Michelle Williams was paid $1,000 for reshoots on the movie All the Money in the World, while her co-star Mark Wahlberg was paid $1.5 million. After facing intense public scrutiny, Wahlberg donated his salary for the reshoots to Time's Up.