Mo’Nique claims she knows why she missed out on roles in Empire and The Butler, according to an essay she wrote for the Feb. 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter, as seen by E! News.
Following her 2010 Best Actress in a Supporting Role win for the film, Precious, Mo’Nique had a stretch of four years before her next project, Blackbird, which was released in 2014. According to Mo’Nique, Oscar wins generally lead to “more respect, choices, money”—so why wasn’t that the case? The actress says she received a phone call from Lee Daniels, the director of The Butler, claiming she’d been “blackballed.”
“But I got a phone call from Lee Daniels … And he said to me, ‘Mo’Nique, you’ve been blackballed.’ I said, ‘Why?’ And he said, ‘Because you didn’t play the game,’” she wrote.
According to the THR essay, Daniels didn’t elaborate on exactly what “game” she wasn’t up for playing, but people who say she is “difficult” or “tacky” would “probably be right.”
Mo’Nique said she’d been offered two roles—in The Butler as well as the part of Richard Pryor’s grandmother in an upcoming biopic which Daniels is working on—that were both then given to Oprah. There was also a role in Fox’s Empire, which Daniels executive produces, but that too, she said, “just went away.”
Daniels said 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.”