Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson School Mo'nique in the Hustle and Flow of Oscar Campaigning


Blame it perhaps on Oprah, who famously called Mo'nique after first seeing Precious and declared, "So what are you wearing to the Oscars, girl?" Or maybe it was another female figure from her more distant past, a strong-willed grandmother who sat a 7-year-old future superstar on her lap and instructed, "One day, they'll be expecting you to dance for your gold prize. Don't do it, Mo'mo. When that day come, you let them dance for you." Whatever the case, when it comes to the awards derby, Mo'nique is not having any of it. Absent from most of the early Precious campaigning and film festival premieres, the comedian and actress's first direct acknowledgment of the race came in the form of this pragmatic and much-quoted kiss-off:

"I couldn't eat that Oscar. Everybody needs money, baby. That's how we survive, right?"

Since then, she's softened her stance somewhat and submitted to the talk show circuit, but she seemed more preoccupied with hitting on the host (in the case of Craig Ferguson), or plugging her "dream come true" BET talk show (in the case of Oprah) than highlighting her devastating work as the Mongo-tossing Mrs. Jones.

Speaking of The Mo'nique Show, an episode that aired last month (but only recently surfaced in the Oscar blogodome) featured two friends and former Oscar-nominees -- Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson -- who schooled the stultifyingly, if refreshingly, game-illiterate host on what to expect in the months to come.

Here's some highlights, courtesy of And The Winner Is...:

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...

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... 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?

Once again, it all seems to boil down to tangible currency and/or delicious sandwiches for Mo'nique. Try as she might, she just can't seem to wrap her head around why it might behoove her to bite the bullet, paste on a smile, and parade around the campaign circuit for the next few months, despite the best efforts of savvier friends in the industry to break it down for her, in the most basic language and concepts possible. One day we'll all see the folly in losing our patience with her so quickly; until then, the awards-season-showboating developmental disorder known as Auscartism shall remain tragically undiscovered.



  • SaltySue says:

    Why Oh Why are people faulting this woman for not campaigning. She is 100% correct. The performance is on the screen, the award should not be given to whomever begged the hardest.
    But why is she asking two people who lost?

  • Anonymously says:

    Saltysue, I never looked at it that way. Sad but true.

  • NoWireHangers says:

    Mo'Nique, I love you, but if you fuck up your Oscar chances and pull an Eddie Murphy circa Dreamgirls, I'll not shed a tear for you when you lose to some Hallmark shit like Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side.
    Remember if you will, Eddie's performance as James "Thunder" Early. Eddie's very talented but with turds like Vampire in Brooklyn and Pluto Nash under his belt, people had to be reminded. He knocks it out of the park in Dreamgirls and gets a nomination, but then what does he do? He goes "Maury Povich" on Scary Spice and denies her baby all over the tabloids and the Oscars coincide with the release of Norbit. Then he loses to Alan Arkin in Little Miss Sunshine.
    You've been warned Mo'. Just remember that many in the Academy may not know who the hell you are and those that do may remember Phat Girlz.
    And if none of this makes sense, then this simple diagram may be of help:
    *Unless you're Cuba Gooding, Jr.

  • el smrtmnky says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkIuU84I10s even this didn't get you that oscar, Mo'Mo.

  • Mo’Nique makes a salient point – essentially, the campaign is on the screen, in the work that she’s already done in the film ("Precious"), and she shouldn’t have to pound pavement, and put on a variety of false faces in order to woo Academy voters.
    However, unfortunately, as we all know, it’s a game, and if you want to win, you’ve got to play the game. So, if she’s not willing to play the game, more power to her; but, she shouldn’t expect to win either.

  • Kate says:

    I hate to see you guys towing the same line as the film blogosphere's favorite bigoted uncle Jeff Wells, acting like this is the out-of-control behavior of an uneducated primitive. To me the craziest shit Mo'Nique is doing is pissing off Tyler Perry, cos I'm not sure what you expect Hollywood to lavish upon a big black woman in her forties with an Oscar nomination outside of a decent part in one of his movies. Does Miranda's kid need a nanny yet?

  • Emtoionally Retarded says:

    This is absolutely correct -- Oscar campaigning is tawdry and desperate. Her performance is on the screen, and if she does not win an Oscar because she does not campaign vigorously enough, more power to her -- she will join the ranks of the many, many talented performers who have never won an Oscar.

  • Sally in Chicago says:

    First off, she's not an actress, she's a comedian. and she's right, the work is on the screen, if she deserves it over the others, give it to her.
    I don't think she's like the other actresses (Cruz, Streep) who depend on acting for their next $$$....and the younger actresses depend on the Oscars to get recognition and get their next job....she's happy where she is. And Jeff Wells hates her performance and her character. But if it's the most compelling portrayal, then so beit.
    The only other actress I would compare her to is Marion Cotillard in PE, which I thought was a great role.

  • Wowzer says:

    Monique sucks. Her role in Precious felt real because she's a big fat bi'a, to all who will admit. I hope she does not win. She is not a good representative of the Oscar or black people. Plus, if she won, she'd use the Oscar as a "massager" because none of her men want to hit that shit. She's a low-level nig that acts like she ain't ever had nothing. She knows full well what you need to do to win an Oscar. She's trying to get it the lazy way, and to capitalize by extorting envelopes of small-time cash from people who want to interview her about her work on the film. Come on, y'all. This bitch is stupid.

  • AFTON says:

    remember when I first started thinking this was more confusing than it should be 🙂

  • beat making says:

    I don't think she's like the other actresses (Cruz, Streep) who depend on acting for their next $$$....and the younger actresses depend on the Oscars to get recognition and get their next job....she's happy where she is..

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  • Why Oh Why are people faulting this woman for not campaigning. She is 100% correct. The performance is on the screen, the award should not be given to whomever begged the hardest.