Comedian Mo’Nique has never minced her words, especially when discussing her unsavory experiences in Hollywood.
Since 2015, the Oscar-winning Queen of comedy has adamantly stated that she was “blackballed” in the entertainment industry. Mo’Nique stated Lee Daniels, who cast her in her Academy Award-winning role in Precious, was the one who told her the industry blackballed her. More specifically, Mo’Nique claimed Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey were behind her losing out on roles, ultimately affecting her income.
It would be a severe understatement to say Mo’Nique hasn’t come off of Oprah and Tyler’s necks since discovering their alleged activity. In February 2024, she addressed her ongoing feuds with the media moguls on Shannon Sharpe’s Club Shay Shay podcast. During the 2-hour and 55-minute interview, Mo’Nique shared why her issues with Oprah stem further than her allegedly plotting to ruin Mo’s career.
Here’s what happened between Mo’Nique and Oprah that led to their decade-plus feud.
What happened with Mo’Nique and Oprah?
Mo’Nique and Oprah’s feud began during their time working together on Precious. Oprah and Tyler were among 13 producers on Lee’s movie starring Mo’Nique and Gabourey Sidibe. Mo’Nique said on Club Shay Shay and in other interviews that she and Oprah initially had a friendly relationship.
The Parkers alum had long admired Oprah since she was on Baltimore’s WJZ-TV’s local talk show, People Are Talking. Mo’Nique, who grew up in Baltimore, Md., said on Shannon’s podcast that seeing Oprah on-air allowed her to see that someone who “looks like me” could one day be famous.
They say you should never meet your heroes, and Mo’Nique witnessed such firsthand during Precious. First, the two disagreed on Mo’Nique doing extra promotional appearances for Precious for free after working on the film. Then, their drama became more personal when Oprah brought Mo’Nique’s estranged brother, Gerald Imes, on her talk show in 2010.
Mo’Nique publicly said in an interview with Barbara Walters that Gerald, her older brother, molested her when she was a child. She would later use the horrific experiences to inspire her role as Mary in Precious. Following her Oscar win, Mo’Nique said Oprah called her directly to tell her that her brother wanted to come on Oprah’s show to apologize for his actions publicly.
Mo’Nique reportedly told Oprah she "didn't want anything to do" with her brother or the appearance but encouraged Oprah to proceed with the interview. However, she later discovered through commercials that Oprah also contacted her mother, Alice Imes, and her father, Steven Imes, Jr.
"We never talked about my mother being there," Mo’Nique said about the ordeal at Club Shay Shay, adding she felt “betrayed” by the billionaire.
Mo’Nique has also accused Oprah of intentionally taking movie roles offered to the comedian.
Oprah’s interview with Mo’Nique’s family was something the comedian said affected her day-to-day life. She claimed she couldn’t go into a grocery store without someone discussing her mother’s perceived greed and negligence with Mo’Nique growing up. Though Mo admitted she and her mom don’t have a good relationship, she didn’t want the world to see her mom’s behavior and said had she known she would be on, she would’ve told Oprah to “shut that s--t down.”
In addition to airing out her family’s business, Mo’Nique accused Oprah on Club Shay Shay of stealing leading roles from her following Mo’Nique’s Oscar win out of jealousy. Mo’Nique stated that Lee initially offered her the lead in his 2013 film, The Butler, where Oprah played Gloria Gaines.
“Lee Daniels came out and said 'I did offer Monique The Butler, but as he said to me, he said 'Mo, at the time I didn't have no power, and I didn't have no money,'" said Mo’Nique. "So when Oprah said she wanted it, who played the lead role in The Butler? Oprah Winfrey."
Mo’Nique recalled a similar situation when Lee started casting for a Richard Pryor biopic he had in the works. Once again, Mo said Lee offered her the part of Richard’s grandmother, which led Oprah to tell Lee she wanted the part.
Oprah has only addressed her and Mo’Nique’s feud publicly once.
Since their 2010 fallout, Mo’Nique has stated on several occasions, including her time on Club Shay Shay, that she “loves” Oprah and simply wants her to do better. However, she stated that their feud would never be resolved until the talk show queen publicly apologized to Mo’Nique. After hearing Oprah’s take on the feud, an apology in front of the world seems unlikely.
For the most part, Oprah dodged Mo’Nique’s claims in interviews. But in 2018, Oprah had time to address the beef during her press run for A Wrinkle In Time. When Global Grind asked Oprah about her and Mo’Nique’s issues, she gave her only response on record, which was delivered in the most Oprah way imaginable.
“You can’t meet negative energy where it is; you have to rise above it, you have to transcend it,” Oprah said while explaining why she never clapped back at Mo’Nique. “You have to be the light. It only takes a little bit of light to banish the darkness. It takes a lot of darkness to overcome the light. It takes just a little bit of light, and we are warriors of the light. I would never stoop to try to meet somebody where they are negatively. Don’t care who they are.”
Fortunately, Mo’Nique has squashed her beef with Lee, who apologized for his role in her being blacklisted from Hollywood in 2022. She also agreed to sit with Oprah and Tyler on another Club Shay Shay episode. Here’s hoping.