Photo: Paul Archuleta (Getty Images)
When Mo’Nique called out D.L. Hughley last weekend during her performance at Detroit’s The Comedy Explosion, she informed the audience that Hughley threatened to pull out of the event if he wasn’t the last one to grace the stage. The actress explained the situation during her opening monologue:
“The motherfucking contract said that a bitch [points to self] is the headliner. Mo’Nique is to be the last motherfucking person on the goddamn stage. She is the headliner. I’m 30+ years in this motherfucking business and I don’t open for no goddamn body. The contract said the headliner. But a nigga named DL Hughley turned into a bitch and said ‘I won’t perform if she does that.’ So when I leave this motherfucker the headliner has left.”
Essentially, what Hughley tried to do to Mo’Nique is known in many industries as “bigfooting,” or asserting his male dominance or self-perceived dominance by stepping infront of her and disregarding her power, talent and worth. However, the actress pointed out the real issue she had with him which is way bigger than a headlining slot:
“At what time did Black men start attacking Black women?”
Anyone who has followed the trajectory of Mo’Nique knows how her willingness to speak up about her mistreatment led to professional suffering. Her infamous role as Mary Lee Johnston in the 2009 film Precious, which was directed by Lee Daniels and produced by Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry, garnered her a Golden Globe and an Academy Award. However, she revealed that she was only paid $50,000 for the movie.
Because Mo’Nique rightfully refused to participate in the Precious publicity campaign, she has stated that Daniels, Winfrey and Perry ruined her career by blackballing her in Hollywood. In 2018, Mo’Nique once again caused controversy when she asked audiences to participate in a Netflix boycott after they wouldn’t pay her as much as comedians Chris Rock and Amy Schumer for a stand-up special.
Instead of Black women receiving support when we speak out against discriminatory practices, we are labeled as angry and difficult to work with. Mo’Nique was forced to defend herself to Charlamagne Tha God who questioned the validity of her decorated career during an appearance on The Breakfast Club that same year:
“I just don’t understand how you can justify making $13 million in 2018 for a stand-up special … Was there a bidding war between platforms? Do you do the numbers in ticket sales that Chris Rock does, that Dave Chappelle does, that Amy Schumer does? Have you received other offers from other streaming services? Or other places period?”
Mo’Nique has won an Academy Award, a Primetime Emmy, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA Award. She is the recipient of four NAACP awards, received a Grammy nomination and has had a leading role in a sitcom. Mo’Nique has starred in numerous movies and specials, including the Queens of Comedy franchise. Charlamagne antagonizing her on his platform exemplifies what the radio host does best: demean Black women.
Mo’Nique had to defend herself again to Steve Harvey who blamed the actress herself for her plight:
“This ain’t the black man’s game. This ain’t’ the white man’s game. This is the money game,” Harvey told her in a 2019 episode of The Steve Harvey Show. “You cannot sacrifice yourself. The best thing you can do for poor people is not be one of them.”
Every Black woman has been Mo’Nique at one point or another, whether it’s demanding equal pay or fighting for our worth. And with Netflix callously laying off numerous people of color and propping up Dave Chapelle’s transphobia, it turns out that she was right about the streaming giant all along. She brilliantly summed up her experience during an appearance on Turnt Out with TS Madison earlier this year:
“Oftentimes when it comes to a Black woman speaking up and speaking out, it goes unheard until she dies. Then once she dies, then we go back and say, ‘Well, she was right,’ and ‘let’s make a movie about it.’ See, I can give you their names: Eartha Kitt. I can give you their names: Hazel Scott. I can give you their names: Fannie Lou Hamer. I can give you their names: Hattie McDaniel. All of those women took a stand, and all of those women left here heartbroken, unhealthy, looking at a community saying, ‘Y’all know I’m right, but why won’t anybody say anything?’”