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In a cover story for Variety ahead of Sunday’s Academy Awards, Oscar winner Mo’Nique reveals that she received just $50,000 and an inconsequential back-end deal for starring in Precious which went on to gross $47.5 million at the domestic box office.

“There was a backend, in all fairness. But the end it was behind, it was the double triple quadruple backend,” Mo’Nique explained.

She says she signed the contract because she trusted director Lee Daniels, who was a friend.

“Because Lee Daniels was my friend, he said, ‘This is what.’ And we said, ‘Okay.’ That movie made a lot of money all over the world. And again you have to ask yourself, ‘Why is it that we don’t take part in it [financially]?’ Myself and Gabourey Sidibe, we should have become multi-millionaires off that movie, had we been given the right information. We weren’t given the right information. If you’re not given the right information, it doesn’t allow you to negotiate fairly.

The Q&A continues below:

What’s the right information?

By them saying, “Let me lay everything out on the table. This is what this means, this is what this backend means.” I don’t think my friend will tell me anything that’s not right. But then you understand it’s business. It’s a lesson well learned, a costly one. You have to ask yourself if “Precious” is so successful, why is that I’m not getting offers that make sense because you see what happens at the box office? I don’t say it’s just because of me. It was a collective group. Everyone that took part was a big part of the success.

The budget of the movie was $10 million and it grossed $54 million domestically. Who made that money?

Someone did, my love. Can you please call them and ask them where it is?

Would you say your “Precious” contract was a bad one?

I want to play fairly and I want to say no, because I signed up for that. What I can’t do now is cry and say I was mistreated.

Do you talk to Lee Daniels?

I haven’t spoken to Lee Daniels in a while. But when I say someone is my friend, I don’t say that lightly. Whenever my friend is ready to have a conversation, I’m right here.

Did you stop speaking to him after he considered you for the role in “Empire?”

I never stopped speaking him. I don’t like the play on words. Do you have friends?

I do.

Sometimes people don’t have them; it’s Hollywood. You ever have a friend that they just get to show off? You still love them, but you have to let them get through it. And when they get finished showing off and they knock on the door and they open it up and they come with their arms extended and you hug them. That’s all that is. Whenever he’s ready to reconnect, I’m right here. I’m a connector.

Did winning the Oscar hurt your career?

When you know the history of Hattie [McDaniel, the first African American to win an Oscar for “Gone with the Wind” in 1940], she said she felt like she had been cursed. They already didn’t want to pay her fairly. Now that she had won the highest award in the acting business of Hollywood, now you think we’re going to treat you fairly?

Unfortunately, that sweet woman died penniless. She didn’t get the money she was supposed to get. So did it hurt my career? I have to say no, it didn’t. What I did always have was the option to say “yes” or “no.” I think, unfortunately, there are times where we don’t have the option. I’m a stand-up comedian. I go on the road. I tour. So I always have the option to say, “No, thank you.” But what about the ones who don’t have the option? I don’t know how much has changed from Hattie to right now.

It’s sad to think that little has changed.

Because we just haven’t had the right conversations. I know my husband has said to me, “Mama, it’s not that people in Hollywood are bad people at all.” It’s just that they are conditioned to do it that way. We always want to speak about racism in Hollywood. I’ve done business with people of color who have not played fairly. Are they racist or is this just the business model? “I want to get as much as I can from you and give you as little as I can.”

Read the entire Q&A here.

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19 thoughts on “Mo’Nique: ‘Me And Gabby Sidibe Should Have Been Rich From ‘Precious”

  1. I like Monique’s realness. She tells it like it really is, so write that book Monique about your current experiences, and have those books, making you big money. Stop waiting for others to do it for you, your just as capable as anyone. If you don’t look out for you, who will?

  2. Oh dear, oh dear she is still upset about missing out on this pay, isn’t she.
    – All freelancers have been there, not in the millions perhaps, but we all have got bills to pay and mouths that need feeding, so I feel her pain.
    However – The learning should be, go to business school to learn how to read and understand contracts, or at the very least, to understand what your agent and accountants are doing or should be doing.
    Its called show BUSINESS so it not merely about your talent, she ought to really know this by now.
    Look at Tyra & Eva Longoria, still studied yet could have brought their degrees online.
    I could barely follow that interview as she is so inarticulate and her thoughts are so full of emotion, they are coming out in a random fashion.
    – Educate yourself, so this does not happen to you again.
    Ask Kevin hart, Denzel Washington, Lonnie Love and Kerry Washington for some names of good quality representatives and let this one go.

  3. deron williams on said:

    Why can’t this women see that her mouth got her into this mess. its going to take her to close her mouth to get her out of it. the more she stir the pot, the more people going to start to believe that, their some truthful to the rumor going around about her.

  4. Personally, I’m happy she’s speaking out about her experience, perhaps it will help someone else to be better prepared. Each one, teach one. Also, there are several athletes, recording artists, actors, etc. who ended up bankrupt/penniless who hired lawyer’s/agents who were supposed to be looking out for their best interest, but were not. it’s easy to be critical, but for all of us ‘if we knew then, what we know now’ we wouldn’t have made some of the mistakes we did either. it seems she’s chalked it up to a lesson learned and is moving on. It’s a cautionary tale, let’s hope it helps someone.

    • I get that @Selma, and she should’ve taken Oprah’s advice… She signs every check, and looks at all the numbers and figures before any money is dispersed, via payroll or her own personal. I say… take a class on money management, and learn from someone like Melody Hobson, or Suze Orman, who has been broke, and learn. I know she has the paper to afford either of these two privately…

  5. If I remember correctly, Monique’s husband was acting as her agent. I guess she was trying to save money on the front end and missed a million bucks on the back end. By now I’m sure she realized that’s where she went wrong. She has been in the entertainment business too long to (1) not have an experienced agent/attorney negotiating for her and (2) not have more knowledge of how the business works. Although we want to believe people will do right by us she is too old and experienced in life – let alone business – to rely on friendship to see her through a million dollar transaction. A true friend puts everything in writing to insure his/her friend is taken care of. If the money doesn’t add up in writing trust and believe it’s not going to add up just off somebody’s word after the money is on the table. Chalk it up as a lesson learned, and learn to stand up to your family members who want to appear more important in the process than they actually are. They will lose you more than they will gain for you.

  6. specialt757 on said:

    @RJ
    All valid points, I agree.
    It’s funny though, she dragged Sidibe into her drama and not sure why. Seems to me like Hollywood doesn’t mind casting Sidibe in roles and she graciously accepts. Could it be Monique’s attitude that’s holding her back, keeping her from getting those million dollar roles? Again in life 10% is what actually happens 90% is how you react to it, (not mine, just borrowed it because it fits). I have nothing against Monique of course I don’t know her personally. However, she is starting to get in her own way. If she would just keep her mouth shut, hire professionals to get her auditions, work her deals, read her contracts, she may have been a millionaire by now. I wish her only the best because I really hate to see her go down this dead-end road or worse, this path of self-destruction.

  7. It is time for Monique to sit down and shut up. If she has not learned how business works by now she needs to go back to school (business school), pay someone who specialize in conducting business in a professional manner that demands positive results or just shut up. She was in full control of the decisions she alone made. Now suck it up like a grown woman and live with it.

    Now to drag someone else’s name into her guilt trip is just sad and shows she has very little if any experience in efficaciously negotiating with the caliber of people that exists in Hollywood, friend or not. The more she does this the less any of them will consider her for future employment. This is not standup comedy on the level of reception of mostly black America. Hollywood is a multibillion-dollar business involving numerous races from every culture around the world.

    By sitting back being cantankerous and waiting for someone to come to her continues to show the lack of fully understanding the big picture of the entertainment world. It does not matter who is your friend in big Hollywood. Just know your enemies better.

    Most successful people of color do not have this problem. There are numerous people of color out here that are very successful and properly handling their business on a daily basis either by themselves because they have educated themselves or being smart enough to pay a professional while they learn the ropes from the pros they hire and fire. Stop blaming everyone else for your lack of knowledge of being a strong negotiator, not knowing how to separate business from friendship and you being unwilling to pay the price (hiring a professional who knows what they are doing) to have a professional who will have your best interest at the forefront all the time, day and night.

  8. Monique has been in the Biz for too long to not know the details of a contract, and I truly hope that she realize that she and Lee Daniels are not friends, she need to keep the man’s name out of her mouth unless she’s going to take him to court!

  9. I don’t feel sorry. Business is business. That’s why you hire a good lawyer and agent to read the contract and negotiate what you want, like a percentage of the box office take like most of the white actors do now. They smarten up and realized that they could make more money this way.

  10. She needs a bettet agent. When Rober Downey Jr’s agent negotiated 10 percent of profits marvel never dreamed they would have to pay him $50 million for 1 movie. Get a good agent/lawyer not ur husband/agent.

  11. If Monique and Gabby had such a positive vibe that the movie “Precious” was going to be a box office hit and make the $$$ it did-they should have considered taking a cut of the box office $. This is what a lot of White actors/actresses do when they have a feeling about the movie they are working on.

    In addition, if these two women had decent Agents-their agents would have brokered them a better deal.

    Can’t cry now over spilt milk!!!!!!!

  12. It’s really sad that we as a people, by our own people, are not given the right information, or money so that we can become just as successful. She’s right, she and Gabby, should’ve had millions from that movie, and SHOULD HAVE DONE THEIR HOMEWORK with their lawyers to read over the contracts. You have to put friendship aside, at the end of the day.. it’s a business, and $50,000, plus back-end from dvd’s doesn’t sound like enough. When people work those deals, they are doing the movie for millions, and still getting back-end money, but it’s all about negotiation. Now she see Lee was on the come up, and trying to make a name in Hollywood for himself, and only worried about his own financial game. Never do business with friends, and if you do… treat it as a business….

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