Just Give Mo'Nique the Oscar!
Mo'Nique Imes was born on December 11, 1967 in Baltimore which is where she started her showbiz career as a stand-up comedienne on a dare a couple of decades ago. From there, she gained visibility and immense popularity with performances on "Showtime at the Apollo," HBO's "Def Comedy Jam," "Apollo Comedy Hour" HBO's "Snaps," BET's "Comic View," The Montreal Comedy Festival and Uptown Comedy Club.
Her big break arrived in 1999 when she landed a starring role on the television series, "The Parkers." During the show's five-year run, Mo'Nique earned numerous awards, including four NCAAP Image Awards as the Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series. Her film credits include Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, Two Can Play That Game, Hair Show, Three Strikes, Baby Boy, Beerfest, Phat Girlz, Soul Plane, Irish Jam, Domino and Shadowboxer.
As a voluptuous role model for Rubenesque females Mo-Nique wrote the best-selling book "Skinny Women Are Evil," as well as an equally-funny follow-up entitled "Skinny Cooks Can't Be Trusted." She also created, produced and emceed "Mo'Nique's F.A.T. Chance," America's first, full-figured, reality beauty pageant. Struck by the skyrocketing number of women behind bars, she brought her act to a prison to tape a comedy special called "I Coulda Been Your Cellmate" which aired on TV before later being released on DVD. Then, she delved further into the issue as the host of "Mo'Nique: Behind Bars" for the Oxygen television network.
Here, she talks about "The Mo'Nique Show," her new late-night talk show on BET, and about her Oscar-worthy performance in Precious, Lee Daniels' eagerly-anticipated screen adaptation of Sapphire's novel, "Push."
Click to order DVD via Amazon
Kam Williams (KW): Hi Mo'Nique, thanks so much for the time.
Mo'Nique (M): Hey Kam! Thank you, baby!
KW: Congratulations on the new TV show.
M: Thank you!
KW: How would you describe the format? How are you dividing the time among monologues, interviews, and musical and other performances?
M: I can't give you those numbers, baby, because the show is so unpredictable. We're just having a great time.
KW: What interested you in doing a talk show?
M: Well, I've always wanted to do a talk show. That was the whole focus from the very beginning. First, I thought it'd be like Oprah Winfrey, but the comedienne in me wouldn't let me do that. So, when my husband [Sidney Hicks] and I spoke with Loretha Jones [BET's President of Programming], we said, "We want to do late-night. We want to have a party."
KW: Speaking of partying, you were recently spotted in Manhattan partying at Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson's Sugar Bar with Lee Daniels, Andre' Leon Talley and some other folks. Did you have fun?
M: I had a blast, Kam. When you go to the Sugar Bar, the kid in you truly comes out.
KW: When you mentioned Oprah, it reminded me that I told my readers I'd be interviewing you. And one of them, Laz Lyles, was wondering how much it means to you to have Oprah personally get behind the film in such a strong way.
M: It was a pleasure. She's a powerhouse. She's Oprah Winfrey. You know what that means. So, when she said, "I dig this," I was very appreciative of it.
KW: Attorney Bernadette Beekman asks, how do you do it? You're already a mother, actress, author and comedienne, and now adding late night TV host. So, she wants to know how you keep sane and healthy and how you manage to juggle everything.
M: There is a great group of people that surrounds me, starting with my husband, who is my business partner and executive producer of the talk show. With our assistants and our staff in our home, we have a great team. So please believe me, I'd love to say, "Oh honey, I'm a superwoman!" But I'm so far from being a superwoman. It's all the people who surround us are what make Mo'Nique work.
M: It wasn't hard at all. We left it on the stage. When Lee said "Cut!" that's what it was.
KW: Schoolteacher Erik Daniels says he really enjoyed I Coulda Been Your Cellmate, your stand-up show shot inside a women's prison. He's curious about whether you've stayed in touch with any of the inmates you met.
M: Tell him, that to my surprise, when I was at the Sugar Bar the other night, I bumped into a woman who was in that prison when I was there. We hugged so tight, and she introduced me to her son.
Mo’Nique’s acceptance speech at the Golden Globes:
KW: Erik also wants to know if you have plans to do something like that again.
M: I don't think I'll do another one, because I think it was special in the moment for all of us.
KW: Marcia Evans says that she wants you to know that this fan of yours gained more respect for you after your opening up to Oprah about the sexual and emotional abuse that happened to you. Just let her know that I'm so proud of her stepping up. She goes on to say, "I want Monique to know that she has probably healed some women by sharing her truth. Monique you are looking beautiful!" I guess she didn't exactly have a question.
M: Well, tell that baby, thank you very much!
KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
M: [Laughs] No!
KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?
KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?
M: Have you ever seen a light bulb when it's at its brightest but getting ready to burn out?
M: That's how I feel.
KW: I can understand, between the new TV show and the movie. I was totally blown away by your performance when I saw Precious. And I've never heard so much Oscar-buzz so far in advance of a picture's release. Everybody's been talking about your Academy Award -worthy performance since last January when the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. How do you feel about all the buzz?
M: You know what? I'm excited about any buzz. I was excited when Lee Daniels first called me up. Just for the movie's message to be told, that's where the real excitement comes in for me.
KW: Bookworm Troy Johnson wants to know, what was the last book you read?
by Diahann Carroll
Diahann Carroll is a legendary singer; theatrical, television, and film actress; Tony and Golden Globe Award winner; and Emmy, Oscar, and Grammy nominee. A veteran of the entertainment industry whose pioneering career has inspired many, Diahann made her Broadway stage debut starring in Harold Arlen and Truman Capote's House of Flowers. After seeing her in this production, Richard Rodgers created as a starring vehicle for Carroll the Broadway production No Strings, for which she won the Tony Award. Her recent theatrical appearances have also garnered acclaim, including her role as the "ultimate" Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard. Widely known as a pioneer, in 1968 she became the first black actress in television history to star in her own series, Julia, for NBC, which soared to the top of the Nielsen ratings and received an Emmy nomination. Other notable roles include the title role in Claudine, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress, and Dominique Deveraux in the wildly popular television series Dynasty.
M: Oh my God, I love Troy for that question. I just completed Diahann Carroll's "The Legs Are the Last to Go." Kam, after reading that book in three days, I have such respect for that woman. Oh my God! That book will blow you away, because she's so brutally honest about who she is. It's incredible!
KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What music are you listening to?
M: The last thing I listened to was Whitney Houston at about 6 this morning. I'm also listening to Maxwell a lot, but I'm really excited right now for Whitney.
KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
M: Kam, my favorite dish to cook is macaroni and cheese.
KW: The Laz Alonso question: How can your fans help you?
M: By realizing that they're not my fans, but my bosses. I want them to know that I'm just as excited as they are when they ask for an autograph or take a picture with me, because I'm still that little girl who used to practice in the mirror.
KW: Speaking of mirrors, when you look in the mirror, what do you see?
M: [Laughs] I see somebody, baby, that's full of life. I see somebody that still has a lot more growing to do and is willing to take it on. I see somebody that the universe said to her, "We're going to give you this and see how you deal with it." I see somebody who has an incredible husband, amazing kids and great people around her. So, when I look in that mirror, I be like, "For real?"
KW: The Flex Alexander question: How do you get through the tough times?
M: Bless my brother Flex's heart. Fortunately, I don't have no tough times.
KW: Thanks again, Mo'Nique and I'm expecting to be congratulating you on your Oscar, the next time I speak to you.
M: Thank you so much, Kam. Bless your heart, sugar.
Watch the trailer for Precious:
Order Mo'Nique's Books
Skinny Women Are Evil
Click to order via Amazon
Skinny Cooks Can't Be Trusted
Click to order via Amazon
Coulda Been Your Cellmate (DVD)
Click to order via Amazon
PUSH (a novel)
Format: Paperback, 140pp
Pub. Date: April 1997
Publisher: Random House, Incorporated
In an electrifying novel, a black street girl, sixteen years old and pregnant, again, with her father's child, speaks. In a voice that shakes us by its language, its story, and its unflinching honesty, Precious Jones records her journey up from Harlem's lowest depths... For Precious, miraculously, hope appears and the world begins to open up when a courageous black woman - a teacher hellbent to teach - bullies, cajoles, and inspires her to learn to read, to define her own feelings and set them down in a diary: to discover the truth of her life.
Day after day they go over the pages, translating the illiterate but developing language of Precious' journals. The learning process itself, as vividly revealed as the most brutal aspects of Precious' daily existence, is the heartbeat of a novel that will disturb, galvanize, and stay in the mind.
Mo'Nique The "Spread the Love Tour" Interview
Precious (2009) - Film Review
Lee Daniels Interview, Producer of the motion
Gabby Sidibe - The 'Precious' Interview
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Lenny Kravitz - The 'Precious'