Despite winning the 2010 Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in “Precious”, comedienne Mo’Nique has had some harsh words for the film’s director in recent years, claiming that Lee Daniels has “blackballed” her due to her refusal to “play the game.”
Mo’Nique made the statement in a 2015 interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “I thought, once you won the [Academy Award], that’s the top prize — and so you’re supposed to be treated as if you got the top prize,” she said.
“I got a phone call from Lee Daniels maybe six or seven months ago,” she added. “And he said to me, ‘Mo’Nique, you’ve been blackballed.’ 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.”
Later in the interview, she also claimed she was offered Oprah Winfrey’s part in the Daniels-directed film “The Butler” and was approached about a role in Daniels’ foray into television, “Empire”, but claimed that both roles were “taken off the table.”
A few weeks after that, Mo’nique appeared on “Good Morning America” and offered a reason behind her alleged blackballing, claiming that Daniels “had a problem that I didn’t say his name the night of the Oscar awards.”
However, Daniels vehemently denies Mo’Nique’s charges. “I’ve never blackballed her and I’m sorry that she feels that way. “I have nothing but love for her,” he said during an interview on “The Breakfast Club” on Tuesday.
“I’m sorry that she feels that way. I’m sorry that she and her husband feel that way,” Daniels continued. “I’m just sad because what we experienced on ‘Precious’ was incredible. It was a magical, wonderful moment and for her to think that — it hurts me. Why would I blackball somebody that I love and I respect? She delivered for me.”
Added Daniels: “We seem to see differently about this.”
In fact, Daniels said he would happily work with Mo’Nique again. “For sure,” said. “She’s an artist and she’s good.”
As her her claims about a role on “Empire”, Daniels confirms that Mo’Nique was up for the role of Cookie — but so was pretty much every other African-American actress in Hollywood.
“She was up for the role of Cookie as was Oprah and anybody else,” Daniels revealed. “I was thinking about everybody. It’s a black role — there wasn’t a black actress from Nia Long to Halle Berry to… everybody was up for that role.”
Following Mo’Nique’s original comments, in 2015 Daniels released the following statement: “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.”
You can watch Daniels’ appearance below: