Mo'Nique Recalls 13-Year Feud With Director Lee Daniels: "It's a New Chapter"
Mo'Nique is finally ready to put the past behind her, and by that she means her 13-year feud with Lee Daniels. In the midst of her return to TV, movies, and standup comedy (by way of her Netflix special, "My Name Is Mo'Nique"), the comedian sat down for an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, published on March 8, to recap the years of her career after she won her 2010 Oscar for Daniels's "Precious" — a movie that also led to their public fallout.
It all started in 2009 in the run-up to Mo'Nique's big night at the Oscars, when, according to the comedian, she refused to do full-court press for "Precious" because she wouldn't be compensated to promote it during award season, per THR. At the time, Mo'Nique was hosting a talk show on BET and also wanted time to spend with her husband (and manager), Sidney Hicks, and her sons Shalon, 32, and twins Jonathan and David, 17. Lionsgate, who backed the film, as well as "Precious" executive producers Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey, were allegedly unhappy with Mo'Nique's decision, which ultimately led to her and Daniels not speaking for 13 years.
During that more than a decade-long disagreement, claims were made by both Mo'Nique and Daniels in the press, with each telling their perception of how and why the feud continued as long as it did. In a 2015 interview with THR, Mo'Nique alleged that the movie director "blackballed" her from working in Hollywood, also leveling similar claims at Perry and Winfrey, who she's still on the outs with, claiming they aided in the effort.
"One of the networks said to [Lee] that I was 'really difficult to work with,'" Mo'Nique said at the time. "Whoever those people are who say, 'Mo'Nique is difficult,' those people are either heartless, ruthless, or treat people like they're worthless. And that's unacceptable . . . I come from a blue-collar town — and being from that place, you learn not to let anybody take advantage of you. You don't let people mistreat you. You stand up for what's right."
Which is what Mo'Nique did through the years as she continued to speak out about the feud and her mistreatment in Hollywood on various mediums. That is until Daniels issued her a public apology in 2022 during a comedy show in Staten Island, NY, where the two finally buried the hatchet.
Mo'Nique touched on the pair's mended friendship during an interview with Entertainment Tonight, published on April 4, recalling a moment when she and Daniels discussed how they naturally reunited. "When I tell you, we went for a walk one day . . . and he said, 'Someone asked me, was it awkward? You know, was it uncomfortable?' And he said, 'You know, when we got back together, it was as if we were never apart,'" she told the outlet. "And that's what it was."
Read ahead to find out more about what transpired during Mo'Nique and Daniels's years-long feud and how they later reconciled their friendship.
2010: Mo'Nique and Lee Daniels Fall Out After the Comedian Refuses to Promote "Precious"
Following the premiere of "Precious" in 2009, Mo'Nique refused to campaign for the critically acclaimed film during award season and was subsequently criticized by Daniels for her "demands" — which the director said, per a 2015 statement to THR, "were not always in line with the [movie's] campaign."
During her acceptance speech for best supporting actress at the 2010 Oscars, Mo'Nique thanked the Academy for honoring her film performance, as well as Winfrey and Perry, saying, "because you touched it the whole world saw it." She, however, didn't mention Daniels, which he was not pleased with.
In her March 2023 interview with THR, the comedian said that she and Daniels had a brief conversation the following day, and she even presented him with an award at an LGBTQ+ event months later. But when a role in 2013's "The Butler" ultimately went to Winfrey — a part that had originally been offered to Mo'Nique — the collaborators didn't speak again until years later.
2015: Mo'Nique Alleges That Lee Daniels Told Her She Was Blackballed
According to Mo'Nique, she never got a clear answer from Daniels immediately after their fallout explaining what had occurred. But in her 2015 interview with THR, she claimed that "six or seven months" prior, she received a phone call from Daniels in which he told her, "'Mo'Nique, you've been blackballed.' And I said, 'I've been blackballed? Why have I been blackballed?'" she recalled. "And he said, 'Because you didn't play the game.' And I said, 'Well, what game is that?' And he gave me no response."
2022: Mo'Nique and Lee Daniels Patch Up Their Friendship Privately
Just as a film tore their friendship apart, another put it back together in 2022 when Daniels and Mo'Nique, unbeknown to her, were joined again through her newest film, a thriller called "The Reading," directed by filmmaker Courtney Glaude. According to THR, Glaude reached out to Daniels about the film to ask for feedback. Daniels then spent five months working on the movie with Glaude — work that included editing footage of Mo'Nique.
"In that footage I saw the woman that I worked with some 13 years ago," Daniels told THR in 2023. "But I realized how much I loved her. And I realized how talented she was." Shortly after, Daniels called Mo'Nique (both pictured here in 2009) when he also realized "not only did I want to reach out to her, but I realized I wanted to work with her again."
That phone call eventually led to Daniels offering Mo'Nique a role in another film called "The Deliverance." But in that same conversation, the comedian told the director, "'Lee, we can't talk about a part until we talk.'" "And he was like, 'I know.' And then we had a real conversation," Mo'Nique told THR. "That was the moment that he said, 'I'm going to apologize to you and your family for anything I've done to hurt y'all.'"
2022: Lee Daniels Publicly Apologizes to Mo'Nique, Ending Their Feud
Daniels kept his word and apologized to Mo'Nique (pictured here in 2010) on stage at a Queen of Comedy event in Staten Island, NY, in April 2022. He said to her, "I am so sorry for hurting you in any way that I did," before turning to the audience and adding, "She was my best friend, my best friend," per footage posted by a Twitter user. "Y'all think that 'Precious' was just — that was God working, through both of us." "And we're gonna f*cking do it again!" he concluded, referring to an upcoming Netflix horror film titled "Demon House," Deadline previously reported, where Mo'Nique will replace Octavia Spencer, who bowed out of the movie due to scheduling conflicts.
2023: Mo'Nique Shares Update on Her Friendship With Lee Daniels
Looking back on Daniels's public apology, Mo'Nique (pictured in 2010) told THR, "I don't know if it's ever been done in history — that a big Hollywood director came out and apologized to an actress for a wrongdoing." Of their reconciliation, she added, "I'm just happy to have my friend back."