When comedian-turned-actress Mo’Nique was growing up in Baltimore, her friend’s mother made a prophetic comment.
“She said to me, ‘When you grow up, either you’re going to get your ass whipped a lot, [or] you’re going to make a lot of money with your mouth,’” Mo’Nique told me on this week’s “Renaissance Man.”
It was clearly the latter. But when did Mo’Nique know she’d be an entertainer?
“I was born Dec. 11, 1967, at 10:38 a.m. That is the moment,” she said.
Now the Oscar winner is roaring back onto the scene — following a high-profile fallout with Lee Daniels, who directed her in “Precious.” She is starring in my favorite show, “BMF,” and she has an upcoming Netflix special, “My Name Is Mo’Nique,” which she co-wrote with her husband, Sidney Hicks. It comes on the heels of her settling a discrimination lawsuit with the streaming giant.
“You get called angry. You get called bitter. You get called delusional,” she said as a vocal black woman in showbiz. “You get called so many things. You get called aggressive. You get called a bully.”
She added that her special will shed light on her industry battles. “You’ll understand why I do not back down.”
She was very candid about her 13-year feud with Daniels, which reportedly stemmed from her refusal to do press surrounding their 2009 film “Precious” and its awards campaign. In April, the pair patched things up onstage during a New York comedy show.
“I remember when Lee Daniels and I were taking a walk when we were doing the film ‘The Deliverance,’” Mo’Nique said of the upcoming horror film that sees them as co-workers again. “He said to me, ‘Why didn’t you just be quiet?’ And I said, ‘Had I been quiet, you and I wouldn’t be taking this walk down the river right now.’”
She added that the A-list director “sipped the Kool-Aid.” She remembered telling him, “You thought you wanted to be with the beautiful people, but you found out once you get there, like most people do, [you] have no real friends.”
“For he and I to reconcile, for him to take accountability and walk out on that stage in Staten Island and say, ‘I want to apologize for anything I’ve done to you and your family’ — I don’t know if it’s ever been done in history,” she said, adding that he “owned his stuff … So Oprah and Tyler, we waiting.”
Mo’Nique took the stairs, not the elevator, and there’s a lesson in that. As for her forming her character, she was influenced by shows like “Good Times” and “The Jeffersons,” which she said “embody different layers of the black family that we just don’t see anymore.”
She considered the great John Amos, who played James Evans Sr. on “Good Times,” her TV dad and admired Weezy Jefferson, played by Isabel Sanford, for her style. “Weezy always had on these beautiful caftans,” Mo’Nique said.
As for Florida Evans, played by Esther Rolle, Mo’Nique loved her approach to being a matriarch.
“I appreciated her because she knew how to be a black man’s wife,” the comedian said. “She knew how to stand her ground, but she knew when to back down. She knew that she could talk to her children, but she knew James had the final word.”
When it came to her own parenting, the actress, who is also a grandmother, has a few regrets.
“If I had to do it all over again, I would have been far more nurturing,” the star of UPN’s “The Parkers” said. “I wouldn’t have stayed so long at the meeting. I wouldn’t have stayed so long at the party … I wanted fame so much. And I wanted to be able to give my son, quote unquote, everything I thought my parents didn’t give me … That meant that I can’t read a bedtime story. Well, I’m trying to make it better.”
Over the past 13 years, she has leaned on her family. And now that she’s back in the fold, she has one objective:
“I’m thinking about growing old with my husband and meeting my great-grandbabies.”
Detroit native Jalen Rose is a member of the University of Michigan’s iconoclastic Fab Five, who shook up the college hoops world in the early ’90s. He played 13 seasons in the NBA before transitioning into a media personality. Rose is an analyst for “NBA Countdown” and “Get Up,” and co-host of “Jalen & Jacoby.” He executive-produced “The Fab Five” for ESPN’s “30 for 30” series, is the author of the best-selling book “Got To Give the People What They Want,” a fashion tastemaker and co-founded the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, a public charter school in his hometown.