September 2001
Mo’Nique : The Queen of Comedy Recognizes Her Beauty

Interviewed by Midas

Mo’Nique : The Queen of Comedy Recognizes Her Beauty

For Mo’Nique, her inner understanding of self has been the underlying tenet to her success. Simply, she knows who she is and is ok with who she is. More individuals should be so lucky. It is this grounding that has propelled the sexy star of The Parkers into a position where all her dreams have seemingly come true. Despite this success, she continues to be one of the hardest working individuals in the entertainment industry. This entrepreneur has a clothing line, a radio show, a salon and a family that she juggles in conjunction with her acting career. You go girl! In this interview Mo’Nique discusses her comfort in herself, the solidarity of the actors on 2 Can Play That Game, and why she could no longer travel as a Queen of Comedy.

M: What attracted you to this role?

Mo’Nique: Well, money. (laughter) No, actually I got this movie and it actually just fell into my lap. My agent called me on a Friday and said there is a role in a movie with Vivica Fox if you want it you have to report to work on Monday. So I hadn’t even read the script. So I got there on Monday and I fell in love with the script. Actually, Tyra Banks was supposed to be Deidre. They went so far different, but I actually love that they put a glamour girl in with those tiny-weenie women. I loved that. I loved that Deidre was so close to Mo’Nique. She said what she felt and felt what she said and didn’t care. She loved who she was, she loved her man and was not afraid to talk about sex or anything. She was out there. That is who Mo’Nique is except I wouldn’t wear that cheap jewelry.

M: The outfits were nice.

Mo’Nique: Everything that I do even with The Parkers, I will not be the stereotypical black girl.

I will not wear Moo-Moo. I will not be the unattractive one because I am beautiful and I want to be glamorous. I want to show my cleavage and I want to show my legs. I want to be sensuous, I want to be all that. I will not allow them to do that. I won’t let them stereotype me as the fat girl.

M: Is that a common battle? Is it something that you feel you are constantly fighting against?

Mo’Nique: Not for me because I went into the door saying that. When I first got the Parkers, I went into a meeting with the producers, whom I love, I said to them that Mo’Nique is a sexy 200lb. woman. I will not be anything other than that. They said we won’t have you be anything other than that. So now they know I will be in mini-skirts, she is going to be fashionable. The issue of being different was more about other people than about myself.

I never thought I was different. My father always told me I was beautiful and that was all I knew. So I never, even when I went to Lane Bryant, I was always fashionable. Cause, I have always been big, but I knew that I was the prettiest girl in the world. So when I walked into a room, I made sure all eyes were on me. I didn’t walk into the room thinking oh, I am the fat girl. No, I went into the room thinking I was the pretty girl. I have always been glamorous. So when you say did I work on it, well we all do. Not just fat women, all women.

M: Is this the motivation behind your line of clothing?

Mo’Nique: Yes, my line came out in December of last year. Right now it on the Internet and the web address is BBLI is big, beautiful and loving it. Size 14-32 and hopefully, by the grace of God, it will be in stores beginning in January.

M: What kind of response have you had?

Mo’Nique: Awesome. For as good as I thought it would be it has been ten times greater. Big women were ready. When Oprah came out, I was like finally, there is someone who looks just like me and I am ok. For her own personal reasons she wanted to lose the weight. But when she did it big women were like oh, shit, what’s wrong? My message is that I am happy, healthy and 200lbs. I work out and exercise, but I am all right with me. I am not trying to lose weight as long as I am healthy and everything is all right, I want big women to know that it is all right to be sexy. The average woman is a size 14, that’s both black and white women. It is sad that retailers took so long to realize that the size 2s are not selling. Black women are not made that way. They are thicker. That’s why when I came to Hollywood, I was like sister why are you eating just carrots? Be healthy, but damn! a piece of chicken won’t kill you.

M: Where are you from Mo’Nique?

Mo’Nique: Baltimore, Maryland.

M: Talk about that day on the set where you do your dance.

Mo’Nique: Mr. Big Stuff? That just happened. We had to do that take about 20 times because I could not get the lyrics. But being a stand-up comedienne you always keep milking it until it happens until it works. SO the dance just happened. Plus I love to move, I love to shake. If I did not do this, I think I would work for that club called Chunky Asses. (Laughter) I love to move, I love to. Can you imagine that? Ladies and Gentlemen, Sexual Chocolate.

M: Were you happy with the portrayal of African American women in this film?

Mo’Nique: Oh yes! It was great to see African American women in positions of power. Lawyers, heads of companies, managers it was good to see that. I was very happy with the portrayals.

M: The women in the film seem to have a good relationship in the film.

Mo’Nique: We do because we are all friends off the set. Because when you are living your dream and then you can share that with your girls and it’s their dream to, it’s awesome. Before I came here, I watched them on TV and I was like wow, I want to be there to someday. So when I met them, it was like yeah and they were real. I can appreciate that about them.

M: Vivica communicated in her interview how proud she was of this film. Do you share her same enthusiasm?

Mo’Nique: Yeah! This was Vivica’s first starring role, it’s her baby. And she was phenomenal, her presence was powerful. Anything that we can do to push it for her and bring her credit we are going to do that. We were all in it but, that was her and anything we can do to make her shine we are going to do it.

M: Is this solidarity common in Hollywood among black actors and actresses?

Mo’Nique: We know how hard it is to get good positive roles. So we rally for each other. With the Queens of Comedy, I have been friends with Sommore for 12 years, Miss Laura for 6 years and I just met Adele two years ago. Now we are tight. We made a pact that if one of us couldn’t do it we wouldn’t do it. We were not going let anybody in because we were the Queens of Comedy. That’s dedication and that is loyalty because not everybody has a television show. We made that pact and that is a wonderful thing. I think that is awesome that we get behind one another and support one another.

M: What happened to the Queens?

Mo’Nique: Adele has a recurring role on the Hughleys, Ms. Laura is doing a one-woman show and Sommore is still touring and unfortunately, my schedule was too demanding. I work the radio Monday-Friday from 2:50 in the morning to 7:00 in the morning PST. I get off from there and I do the Parkers and then spend time with my kids and my husband. Then on the weekends I do spot dates. So my schedule would not allow me to do it.

M: Talk about your beginning in film and television.

Mo’Nique: I got my first interest from doing stand-up in Montreal and actually it was to do a talk show. I don’t know how they got a talk show from doing stand-up. But that didn’t work. But I went back again and I had a talk show deal on the table with Fox. People from the sitcom world saw me again performing in Montreal, but I had the talk show. Queen Latifah also was there and we both shot our pilots and they were like we love you Mo’Nique, but nobody knows you. Latifah’s show is already sold in half our markets. So goodbye. So my agent took the tape of the show and showed it around and presented me as a sitcom star. He had a meeting at 11:00 and they called me in and by 1:00 that same day a deal was done. That’s how the Parkers came about.

M: What do you do on the radio?

Mo’Nique: We play urban top 40 music, I do comedy, I have a Mo’Nique moment. It’s a regular radio show. It’s in D.C., WHUR 96.3. Wait a minute it’s not regular, I am not a regular girl.

M: It seems in this day and age that people are less inclined to call you names based on race or gender etc., but it seems that people who are overweight continue to suffer the ridicule. How do you deal with this?

Mo’Nique: You take that power away from them. I am ok with being fat. I am not pleasantly plump or thick, I am fat. I am ok with that and if I take that power away from you there is nothing you can say or do that will affect you. Usually, people know that they can call you fatty and that will make cry or breakdown. If you take that away they don’t have anything. I am ok at 200lbs, I am ok wearing a size 22. I am ok wearing a size 11 shoe. I am ok with Mo’Nique.