In a move to defend her character, Blackbird star Mo’Nique released several emails from Lee Daniels revealing that she was originally offered the “Cookie Lyon” role on the “Empire”. Read the emails inside and watch her discuss getting “lowballed” by Hollywood.
The verbal warfare between Oscar-winner Mo’Nique and famed-director Lee Daniels rages on. Yesterday, during a round of interviews to promote her Blackbird film, Mo’Nique called Mr. Daniels out for allowing his writing partner Danny Strong to defame her character.
A few months ago, an article in The Hollywood Reporter ignited a feud between Mo’Nique and Lee about her being “blackballed” by Hollywood. In response to the “blackballed” comment, Mo’Nique revealed to several media outlets that she’s been offered Taraji P. Henson’s role on “Empire”. But when Lee’s writing partner Danny Strong denied offering Mo’Nique the role, it made her look like a lair.
This brings us to yesterday’s interview. Mo’Nique appeared on “Sway In The Morning” where she released three emails from Lee, proving he did offer her a role on “Empire,” which directly contradicts what Danny Strong said previously.
Here’s the exchange:
Monique to Sway: You know when I heard Danny Strong had come on the show and was adamant about Mo’Nique was never offered that role and he’d gone on other places and said it. And I tweeted that brother and said, ‘Will you speak as loudly when you understand that you’re telling something that’s not correct?’ And it was important for me that I come on your show because as I said to you off air, I respect your opinion. And I’ve met a lot of people in this business. We know how this business works, there are not a lot of people that stand behind their word, behind closed doors it’s one thing, outside, it’s another thing.
But when he began to say things that just weren’t true, that’s when I had to say ‘Brother I can’t allow you to do that.’ Because when you start putting my character on the line–and I take pride in my career, I take pride in my integrity, I take pride in my character–but when you put it on the line like that and people begin to question me about my character–and these aren’t strangers, these are folks that know me. We done been in conversations, we done broke bread together. So, I wanted to bring the e-mails to you. And you can read them publicly or privately…I just wanted to put it out there, hey guys clear my name. That’s it.
Danny, clear my name. Lee, clear my name. And I have no animosity towards those brothers at all and want nothing but the best. When it comes to “Empire,” that show is doing history, numbers, breaking records. And they deserve everything that they’re getting because Lee Daniels is one of the most brilliant visionaries that our generation has seen. Taraji P. Henson, one of the greatest actresses, baby, that our generation has seen. So for all of them, I say y’all keep going. However, this situation is about principle. And when you know you have to stand up for right, you have to stand up for right even when people are saying that’s not the popular thing to do.
Now…..here are the three emails:
Feb 18, 2014
Lee Daniels had a conversation with Mo’Nique about his new television pilot for Imagine Tv/Fox called “Empire.” We would like to screen test her for the role of ‘Cookie.’ Please contact us with her television quotes, so that we can start a test, option, deal. We are tentatively looking at Monday, Feb 24 for the screen test.
Mo’Nique literally sipped her beverage as Sway read. But that’s not all.
Hello I am following up on my previous e-mail regarding Lee Daniels’ pilot and Mo’Nique’s television quotes. This is a time sensitive matter. Lee really does not want Mo’Nique to miss this opportunity.
Then another e-mail came through on February 19, asking for more television quotes. In fact, Mo’Nique said that Lee actually offered her the role but he told her since he’d never done television before, he told her that she had to go through the technical part, auditioning etc.
…Unfortunately it’s not going any further for Mo’Nique. Lee fought for her because he thought she would be great for the pilot but studio and network executives insisted on offering the role to Taraji. Thank you so much for providing us with her information. Sorry it didn’t work out. We’re all big fans of hers.
So there you have it….an offer was made to Mo’Nique. And nw she can stop speaing about it.
Mo’Nique also told Sway that she sent Lee the e-mails before she went public – and gave him the opportunity to clear her name. Because he didn’t respond to her, she’s revealing the emails to protect her reputation.
In another interesting twist, Mo’Nique says she did get Hollywood “offers” following her Oscar-win for Precious, but she turned them down because they “lowballed” her salary. She explained to Sway (at 10:06),
“If we keep accepting those low offers, where does it leave our babies coming up? And we have to think about those babies that are not here yet, just as Hattie McDaniel thought about me.”
She has a point. Does Lee Daniels owe Mo’Nique an apology?
Watch the interview here:
Blackbird debuts on April 24, 2015.