In light of all the fuss over the very public back-and-forth between Mo’Nique and Lee Daniels, regarding the former’s alleged industry blacklisting for what Daniels said was her unwillingness to “play the game” when it came to promoting “Precious” in 2009, as well as campaigning for the Oscar she would eventually win…
I dug up this November 2009 clip from Mo’Nique’s then late-night talk show on BET, in which the host chats with Terrence Howard and Taraji P Henson about her Oscar chances, and the campaign that lay ahead of her.
During the conversation, Mo’Nique made a salient point – essentially, that, from an actor’s POV, the Oscar campaign is on the screen, in the work that she had already done, via her performance in the film (“Precious”), and that she shouldn’t have had to pound pavement, and put on a variety of false faces in order to woo Academy voters.
However, Henson and Howard (2 previous Oscar nominees, familiar with the song and dance that comes with being nominated) instructed Mo’Nique on “the game” that those in contention have to play, as Daniels also told her privately back then, to increase one’s chances of being nominated and, eventually, winning.
The nominees for that year had yet to be announced at the time of the recording of this episode of her show, and you can see Terrence and Taraji doing their best to convince her of what is necessary in order to, at least, secure a spot on the list of nominees. But, Mo’Nique, as you will watch below, obviously wasn’t entirely sold on their arguments.
I’d say that it was actually quite bold of Mo’Nique to have this conversation publicly, when she did, ahead of the Academy’s eventual nominees announcement. Most go out their way to be non-controversial in “playing the game,” but she, outright, questions the entire process, defiant, expressing her lack of interest in it, and seemingly not at all concerned with whether or not she would be nominated.
But she would, not only receive a nomination; she also won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, despite not “playing the game.” Although, as we are all now learning, it apparently, eventually cost her.
They also discussed what an Oscar nomination means in terms of career, as Mo’Nique asked Henson and Howard how their job prospects had improved since each of their nominations.
All that said, it’s actually a worth-watching 20-minute conversation between the 3 of them. The all appear so comfortable with each other, like family. It’s a video time capsule, featuring a younger Henson and Howard, sharing stories of career trials, triumphs and overall progress, in a very challenging industry. Who knew that they would reunite 5 years later, to star in what has now become the Fox TV ratings smash, “Empire,” seemingly so far away from the lives they were living when they sat on Mo’Nique’s couch in November 2009 – especially for Henson, who wasn’t doing as well as Howard was at the time (not long before that, he’d cashed in a hefty payday for the first “Iron Man” movie; although we all now know the story on why he didn’t return for the 2nd one).
Watch the conversation below: