by Ashley Naples
Lee Daniels seems to be having a problem with the actress Mo’Nique. After a recent article in the Hollywood Reporter with Mo’Nique claiming that she’d been blackballed, Daniels has been out explaining what happened to her career. Daniels was also put into the spotlight by telling Mo’Nique that she’d been blackballed for “not playing the game.”
So, it appears that the drama of Black Hollywood is now front and center for everyone in the world to enjoy.
Mo’Nique felt that her winning an Academy Award would open doors for her, but it didn’t.
“I thought, once you won the award, that’s the top prize—and so you’re supposed to be treated as if you got the top prize,” Mo’Nique wrote.
Mo’Nique also seems to blame Daniels for her losing opportunities to work.
“I was offered the role in The Butler that Oprah Winfrey played,” she said. “I was also approached by Empire to be on Empire. And I was offered the role as Richard Pryor’s grandmother in [Daniels’ upcoming Pryor biopic]. Each of those things that he offered me was taken off the table.”
Daniels says that Mo’Nique was blackballed for offending whites with what he refers to as “reverse racism.” Also during an interview with Don Lemon on CNN, Daniels says that he doesn’t mind being called a sell-out if that means getting his films into theaters.
“She was making unreasonable demands, and she wasn’t thinking—this was when reverse racism was happening, I think,” Daniels said. “I told her, ‘You have to thank the producers of the film, you have to thank the studios.’ And I think she didn’t understand that, and I said, ‘People aren’t going to respond well if you don’t.””
“This is not just ‘show.’ It’s ‘show business,’” he said. “And you’ve gotta play ball, and you can’t scream—I don’t like calling the race card. I don’t believe in it. If I buy into it, it becomes real. If I knew what I knew when I was 21, I wouldn’t be where I’m at right now.”
“Some people call that ‘selling out,’” Lemon noted.
“Well, I guess I’m a sellout,” Daniels responded. “But I’m not going to not work, and I’m not going to not tell my truth. And I’m not going to call people out on their bull. So whatever that means, sell out. I’ll see you in the theaters.”
Financial Juneteenth lessons from this story (from Dr Boyce Watkins):
1) Most of us can tell from the types of films that Daniels has produced “Monster’s Ball,” “The Butler,” “Precious,” “Empire” that he has a certain affinity for projects that are heavy on the kinds of demeaning black stereotypes that Hollywood loves to see. It’s no surprise that he is so successful. Given his deep connections with Jewish culture (he once said that his kids have read Anne Frank 100 times, but have never been made to read Roots), he is likely going to see even more success in Hollywood. Also, comedian Chris Rock once made the point that feminine/gay men are far more likely to be successful than masculine black men in Hollywood. This gives Daniels the perfect trifecta: Eurocentric, gay, Jewish-connections, with a willingness to play the role of the token black. The bottom line is that relentless assimilation will almost always put money in your bank account and it’s working quite well for Lee.
2) Daniels’ “success” in Hollywood is also a reminder of what it means to achieve your Financial Juneteenth. Being a truly wealthy and empowered human being should not mean selling yourself to the highest bidder and making any ethical compromise necessary to get your oppressor to love you. It means building wealth with the kind of integrity that can make your children and your community proud. It’s hard to look at anything Daniels has created and say that he has anything to be proud of. For the most part, he’s a lot like a well-dressed hooker.
You can watch Lee Daniels’ interview with Don Lemon below: