By Clay Cane
Originally published on Advocate.com February 17 2010 2:15 PM ET
Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, and Katharine Hepburn could all come back from the dead to do battle on Oscar night, and they still might have trouble ripping that gold statuette from Mo'Nique's clutches. Her searing performance as a mentally ill mother in Lee Daniels’s six-time Oscar nominated film Precious is about as close as it gets to a sure thing on Oscar night.
With Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award wins already under her belt, things couldn't get much better for Mo’, who is also making headlines as the host of The Mo’Nique Show. Her BET talk show makes her only the second black woman to venture into late night (Whoopi Goldberg did it first, and Wanda Sykes started a few weeks later).
A lifelong supporter of gay causes and AIDS awareness, the sassy woman who once shouted “skinny bitches are evil" from the mountaintops found time to chat it up with Advocate.com about Precious, her talk show, and homophobia in the church — with a prophecy that God has plans to smack the shit out of some folks!
Advocate.com: Back in April of 2009 I attended a BET event, which is where The Mo'nique Show was first announced. While talking to the audience, which was a bit of a conservative crowd, you mentioned how your show is for everyone and even said the gay community. Some people only support gay audiences in front of gay audiences.
Mo'Nique: [Laughs] That’s funny — yes!
Why is it important for you to be inclusive?
Because love conquers all. Who you choose to live your life with — that’s not my concern, nor is it my business. I think we should just love each other as human beings. We get caught up in the foolishness. I believe if we would just start loving each other as human beings, we would be in a much better position.
Recently on your talk show you had R&B singer Miki Howard as a guest. Both of you said you grew up with gay people in church and there wasn’t anything wrong with it. That was so refreshing to hear. Could you elaborate on your experiences with gays in the church?
I actually was not a person that grew up in church — that’s what Miki was saying and I was agreeing. Now, I know a lot of folks that go to church and are gay. I tell them, “God don’t make no mistakes, baby, and we keep using it when it’s convenient.” If we are all made in his image, there are no mistakes. I think it’s absolute foolishness, just in my humble opinion, when people make statements like, “It’s blasphemy and you’re going to hell!” Really? And I’m a child of God — do you think God set me up? I’ve never bought in to it. With gays and church, I think there are so many of our brothers and sisters that’s in pain because they go to a place to receive nurturing, the love of God, and you start hearing that you’re going to hell because of who you were made to be. I just don’t buy that!
Were there any challenges you had in the beginning of your talk show?
know what my biggest challenge is? I like to talk, baby! Sometimes I
will forget that there are guests! [Laughs] Baby, I love to talk, honey!
That is truly my biggest challenge — being quiet!
so many interviews on Precious. What’s a question that you wish
someone would ask?
The preparation of Mr. Lee Daniels — there is no
rehearsal. He is so brilliant in filmmaking — he is a genius. I can’t
say that enough for people to really understand who this cat is. Like,
there is no rehearsal with this cat — you walk in, he says, “Here’s what I
want and action.” You’re not doing a whole lot of takes either. No
one’s asked about his preparation. There is no rehearsal; I think
that’s absolutely amazing. He takes it raw, off the cuff.
interviewed Lee Daniels in September and he said he feels very much
alone in the black community being openly gay. We know not all black
folks are homophobic, but what do you think it will take for some
sectors of the black community to have a shift in consciousness when it
comes to the gay community?
Love. That’s it; there is no special
formula. People that have a platform, if they start speaking about love
— we are creatures that latch on, may it be negative or positive. So
imagine that if in all of the black churches they started saying,
“Let’s love each other unconditionally. Let’s not judge.” That’s it! You
can have members be openly gay! Not “Well, we think Troy is gay, but
you know! Yes, he switches, but we’re not gonna say nothing!”
the choir director!
Baby, he’s the choir director! You’re telling
people to love life, but you’re telling them to live a lie. If we’re
given these platforms and we are truly vessels of God or the universe —
the God that you think you’re representing — that gay person is his
child as well. You’re telling his child, “You’re going to hell.” I
don’t think God is appreciating how we continue to separate his
children. I just don’t think he’s appreciating that or she’s
appreciating that or they’re appreciating that — whatever that
beautiful thing is, I think they’re saying, “You know what? We gonna
slap the shit out of somebody because we love all of them!” [Laughs]
role as Mary Jones in Precious, when you walked away from that final
monologue, did something in you say, “I wore that out!”
Lee Daniels said, “Cut,” we left it right there. My husband was like Mama — just be it, don’t judge it, and leave it right there. We didn’t
celebrate after that scene. It was like, “All right, baby! I’m gonna
catch my flight!” That’s what it was.
You used to be a phone sex operator. Did you ever receive calls from women looking for a little same-sex hot talk?
Well, I was inside of the operation. I didn’t actually talk to the people. I actually had to connect the call and make sure you were doing the call properly! Yes, honey! Now, did women ever call in? Yes! I was like, “Go ahead, girl — do you! Ain’t nobody judging you! Get your money’s worth!” If the sex operator wasn’t doing it right, I would pick up the phone and say, “Listen! You’re not doing this right!” [Laughs]
I love how you use the terms “sugar” and “baby,” I know a lot of people use those words, but you use them in a way nobody else does. Where does that come from?
I think it’s innately in me. When I was doing radio, this guy e-mailed me and he said, “Coming from a grown black man, we don’t appreciate you referring to us as 'honey,' 'baby,' 'sugar.' Those are terms that should only be used by our grandmothers, mothers, and wives.” My response was, “I feel like I’m all of that. I feel like you’re my father, brother, uncle — you’re my family. That’s how I refer to my family, and I won’t waiver from that.” Then I signed, “My sweet sugar!” [Laughs]
Who would be your celebrity girl crush?
Ginger from Gilligan’s Island! Baby, that bitch was always sexy! Do you hear me? On an island — listen to me! Had new gowns every day, makeup and hair was beat — wasn’t no damn makeup artist there! Ginger pulled it together every day, baby! [Laughs]
If a Mo'Nique drag queen had to battle a Wendy Williams drag queen, what advice would you give the Mo'Nique drag queen?
To love him! All we could do was love on each other. Could you imagine what we’re looking like? Say, “Come here!” Because from time to time my husband calls me Mangy, which is “man-girl” — ’cause I have to shave! [Laughs]
When you get to heaven, what is the DJ playing?
Wow! “Move, bitch, get out the way” — no! [Laughs] I would say Jill Scott’s “Golden.”
Any last shout-out to your gay fans?
To all of my gay babies, free yourself. Be free to be who you are, and watch how life works out for you. With no apologies!