Photo: Mo’Nique, showing the face she’d make on camera if someone else’s name is announced as the Oscar winner, on “The Mo’Nique Show.” Courtesy: BET.
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Last night, I was shown a clip from the November 9th episode of “The Mo’Nique Show” that I’ve embedded at the bottom of this post for your viewing pleasure — trust me, you do not want to miss it, especially the part from 3:42 to 9:53! [ADDED 12/8: I was shown the clip by my former high school principal who knows I'm interested in Oscar-related stuff... sorry, conspiracy theorists!]
The new BET talk show is raucous and hilarious thanks to its eponymous host, a popular comedienne who is now also the clear favorite to win the best supporting actress Oscar for her haunting performance in “Precious” (Lions Gate, 11/6, trailer). In this episode, Mo’Nique’s guests are 2 of the mere 42 black actors who have ever received Oscar nominations: her good friends Terrence Howard (“Hustle and Flow,” 2005) and Taraji P. Henson (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” 2008), and before long the conversation shifts to a frank discussion about the good, bad, and ugly aspects of an Oscar campaign.
This may have been a turning point in Mo’Nique’s personal outlook/willingness to do the work necessary to snag an Oscar, as it provided her with answers to questions that apparently kept her from joining her “Precious” castmates at the Sundance and Toronto film festivals and from doing some of the other promotional duties that come with a full-fledged awards push — things that she has subsequently seemed more willing to do.
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Here are some highlights of the chat:
- Howard: “You’ve got a hell of a campaign in front of you right now.” … Mo’Nique: “Now, when you say campaign…” Howard: “Oh, it’s a campaign.”
- Howard: “You’ll be asleep — sitting there in front of that television pretending to sleep — and at five-fifteen, when they mention your name, tears will roll out of your eyes, you’ll call your Mama and you’ll call your Daddy and you’ll call your brothers, and you’ll sit there and you’ll pray that you are not dreaming. And then, when the press show up at your door at eight o’clock in the morning–” Mo’Nique: “At my front door?” Howard: At your front door. Mo’Nique: “Don’t y’all bring yo asses to my front door! I’ma tell you right now! Don’t bring yo ass to where I live! Don’t do that!” Henson: “They’re not gonna come to your house!” Mo’Nique: “Don’t do that!” … Henson: “No, they’re not gonna come to your door. What’s gonna happen is you will get the phone call, and then you have to shower in, like, thirty minutes, and be downstairs in the car to go to press, and from that moment on, baby, it’s like this — alalalalala!”
- Howard: “It is a campaign. You are the Obamas.” Henson: “It’s like running for president.“ Mo’Nique: “What are you campaigning for, though? That’s what I need to understand.” Howard: “Well, a lot of people will not have seen your work, even if it’s the most stellar of work… so you’ve got to get people to show those two hours of attention for the love that you’ve put into it, so that’s the campaign. And, I mean, it’s a five-, six-month straight campaign.” Henson: “It’s also really just about raising the awareness of who Mo’Nique is because, you know, we have our fans, and then there are so many people that still don’t know, and we need them to know.” Mo’Nique: “We do need them to know. I guess that my feeling is just different in reference to this campaigning. I’m really trying to understand it. When everybody first started telling me about all of this buzz and everything that’s going on, I said, ‘You know what? Let me talk to my brothers and sisters who’ve been through it, who know what it is.’ Because when they say ‘campaign,’ I’m like, ‘Well, wait a minute. President Barack Obama had to campaign ‘cuz he had something to prove: that he could do it. Well, the performance is on the screen! So at what point am I still trying to prove something?‘” Howard: “You say you finished!” Mo’Nique: “I’m finished!” … Howard: “You have to prove your artistic nature to everyone that’s around you in order for them to be your supporters. Because your fans here aren’t necessarily the members of the Academy. It’s reaching that whole other group of people–” Henson: “–that’s not even aware of who Mo’Nique is, who haven’t followed you throughout your career, you know? And you may not even care about them; you may just only care about your fans.”
- Mo’Nique: “Now let me ask y’all this, because I know y’all are gonna school me correctly: What does it mean financially?” … Henson: “Y’all are really gonna see how Hollywood works! For me, not really much. I mean, I did see a change, but a very slow change. This one here [Howard] hit — how many figures come with million? Six? Seven! You hit seven; I ain’t seen seven yet. But that’s how it is for women in Hollywood. That’s just, you know, across the board.” Howard: No, but it didn’t come right away. That didn’t happen right away. It’s like planting a seed that’s being watered — it’s got to grow.”
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