The comedian and actress went on Harvey’s show to discuss how she had been “blackballed” by Hollywood for the last 10 years since her Oscar-winning performance in the 2009 movie, Precious.
Steve Harvey calls out Mo’Nique’s Hollywood reputation
The interview begins with Harvey calling out that Mo’Nique, and her manager husband Sidney Hicks, have a reputation for being “difficult.” A rumor that, as Mo’Nique claims, began with her work on the film. “We got labeled as ‘difficult’ because I said one word — and that was ‘no’,” referencing her refusal to campaign for the film by attending the Cannes Film Festival without extra pay, according to Deadline.
But the issue for Mo’Nique, at its core, was that producers Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, as well as director Lee Daniels, seemed to understand her position in private conversations while still shaming her in public. “Y’all knew that I was not wrong. Each one of you said to me, ‘Mo’Nique, you’re not wrong’,” she said to Harvey. She added that she was “hurt” by certain comments the Steve host made himself in the press.
Harvey pointed out that Mo’Nique also invited Winfrey, Perry, and Daniels to “suck her private parts,” during a stand-up show, which did not help the situation.
Mo’Nique claims Netflix undervalued her for comedy special
Mo’Nique’s troubles with the Hollywood “game” only became worse in January 2018 when she was offered only $500,000 for a comedy special. Other comedians like Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, and Amy Schumer were paid hundreds of thousands more, according to People. In response, she called for a boycott of Netflix “for gender and color bias,” People reported. Mo’Nique appeared on The View in 2018 to explain her point, saying Netflix told her, “We go by what we anticipate you’ll do,” when it comes to making an offer for her special.
The View reported that Amy Schumer received $13 million for her first special, The Leather Special, while Chappelle and Rock each received $20 million for their own specials. Netflix told Mo’Nique that Schumer was given an offer based on her audience draw. Joy Bahar asserted in the interview, “It’s about asses in the seats.”
Mo’Nique replied, “I totally agree with you, and when you look at the resume of Mo’Nique, that’s asses in the seats.”
Schumer just announced on Tuesday that her second Netflix special will be available for streaming March 19.
“Rich people problems” don’t get sympathy from Steve Harvey
Harvey did not lend Mo’Nique very much sympathy, saying her issues with Netflix are “rich people problems.”
She responded, explaining that her boycott was not about just receiving a paycheck. “[Inequality is] devastating. And it’s extreme. And people said, ‘Mo’Nique, do you think calling a boycott was extreme?’ You’re damn right. But isn’t inequality extreme?”
Harvey and Mo’Nique’s argument became heated as they continued. “When you tell the truth, you have to deal with the repercussions of the truth. We’re Black out here,” Harvey said, adding, “We’re out here in the game. This is the money game. This ain’t the black man’s game, this ain’t the white man’s game. This is the money game. And you cannot sacrifice yourself.”
He continued, “The best thing you can do for poor people is not be one of them.”
But Mo’Nique stood firm that she would never sacrifice her comedy to make others comfortable. “Before the money game is called the integrity game. And we’re lost the integrity, worrying about the money.”
Harvey, getting even more fervent, responded, “I cannot, for the sake of my integrity, stand up here and let everybody that’s counting on me crumble so I can make a statement.”
Mo’Nique, Steve Harvey remain friends through heated exchange
In the second part of the interview, the two comedians and longtime friends attempted to repair their differences. Harvey even admitted that he should have called her and spoke to her directly about the issues she was facing over the last few years.
“I hate what’s happening to you. I hate what they’re saying that’s not true. I want them to know that you’re caring, that you’re a great mother, that you’re an incredible talent. I don’t like the fact that you’ve been blackballed. You’re too talented to have to worry about all this,” Harvey said.
He then promised to “try and arrange — I’m going to do my best — to get the conversations that need to be had between you and these people so you can hear from them.” Harvey added that both Mo’Nique and her critics should apologize to each other in order to move forward.
Mo’Nique filmed five movies since Precious and currently has an artist residency at the SLS Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, making her the first black female comedian to have a residency anywhere in the city, according to The Washington Post. Despite those films and her residency, the Moesha star still claims Hollywood is out to get her.
While she does say she may have some regrets about her career, she asserts that she refuses to “back down” or “back up” for the sake of being considered easy to work with.