In a new interview with the Chicago Tribune, Mo’Nique dished on her feud with Lee Daniels/Tyler Perry/Oprah Winfrey, the success of her BET late-night talk show, supporting Roseanne and more.
The comedian and actress said she does not regret slamming Lee Daniels, Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey. “…People say, ‘Do you regret saying that?’ And then I pause, and I say, ‘Hell no, I don’t regret it.’ I meant every word I said,” she explained. “I was paid $50,000. And because Black actresses are so underpaid, Lee Daniels thought that was a lot of money. I’m going to quote him, in my dressing room, as we were between scenes: ‘I got you paid on this one.’ And I said, ‘Lee, I say this with all humility, but that’s not money. Baby, I make that in one hour standing up on the stage doing comedy.’ In their minds, I’m a fat Black woman, and I should be honored that they were even calling on me. But if I’m in Cannes for even one day, and I’m making you money, but I’m not making me money, I cannot do that.”
When what she thought of BET canceling The Rundown with Robin Thede, she said, “I can’t speak on my sister Robin. But I will say The Mo’Nique Show was the highest-rated show in that time slot in the history of BET, and it doubled the ratings for the network. Now, I can’t make that make sense. Can you? We got picked up for a third season, and then that was called back. Think about the timing of all of this, and I’m going to let you put this all together.” When reporter Nina Metz questioned if she believed someone pressured BET to cancel the show, she responded with, “Aye baby, I can’t assume nothing. But I’m just telling you, think about the timing. How do you let go of a show that’s doubled the numbers for your network — with no explanation?”
After Metz said she must have enjoyed being a talk show host because she’s a talker, Mo’Nique talked about her love for it and how she gave spots to up-and-coming Black talent. “I’m a talker. And that’s my dream. And it’s going to come back. Can’t tell you when, can’t tell you how, but a talk show will be back. Because that was me from a little girl, watching a local show called People Are Talking with Oprah Winfrey, and I said, ‘Wow, that’s what I want to do.’ Every night, every guest — we didn’t have A-list or B-list, we didn’t play that foolishness — everybody made it possible. Nicki Minaj, her first late-night talk show was who? Drake, his first late-night talk show was who? Janelle Monáe, her first late-night talk show was who? We took joy and pleasure in everybody who sat on that sofa. We wanted people to feel good when they went to bed. I hope you can feel my smile right now; it was so much fun.”
Then somehow, the conversation went from her love of talking to people to Roseanne. “That’s why, when people turned on my sister Roseanne Barr, I couldn’t do it. Because there were Black entertainers who would not come on The Mo’Nique Show because it was quote-unquote ‘too Black.’ But when I called on my sister, she said (imitating Barr): ‘Where is it and what time you need me to come?’ And when she showed up, when the cameras weren’t rolling, she said to me: ‘Listen, you’re the real deal. Don’t let them use you up and take advantage of you, because they will. Don’t you let them do that to you.’ Now, a racist woman ain’t gonna say that to me.”
When Metz pushed back and said that Barr’s tweets were “blatantly racist,” Mo’Nique said, “I’m gonna say this: We’re comedians. And I know her. And what she thought was funny, as a comedian, that’s what it was. When we talked privately — and we’ve talked privately a lot — she’ll break her jokes down, and I’ll know where they’re coming from. She’s like, ‘Listen, you know how I grew up, so how could I start making fun of anybody? I’m not trying to hurt anybody.’ Has she ever said, ‘Kill Black people’?
As Metz said that’s not a line that someone has to cross to be called racist, she continued, “And I can’t argue with what you’re saying — I can’t, baby! But here’s what I know about this woman: She was behind the scenes fighting for the Black (concert) promoters. Nobody knows that. She’s behind the scenes trying to push a documentary about Malcolm X with a brother who’s a Muslim. So when I know about these things personally, did my sister say some things in poor taste? Some people could say yes. But what I won’t label her is a racist. When she sends me a DM that says, ‘My love, we will rise again like the Phoenix’ — a racist woman wouldn’t do that, would she?”
Read the full, in-depth conversation at the Chicago Tribune.