Mo’Nique Talks Taraji P. Henson, Says She Was the ‘Better Messenger’ in Hollywood Pay Inequality Fight

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Mo’Nique can empathize with Taraji P. Henson‘s complaints about experiencing pay inequality as a Black woman in Hollywood. On Wednesday, the actress and comedian appeared on Shannon Sharpe‘s podcast Club Shay Shay, where she revealed that the two had a discussion about it roughly ten years ago.

In response to Henson’s tearful SiriusXM interview on being undervalued as a Black actress, Mo’Nique called it “painful to watch” at the 23:40-minute mark. “However, Taraji and I had a conversation over a decade ago in my trailer when I was doing The Monique Show. And she said, ‘You know, you gotta keep on getting it until your turn comes.’ And I said, ‘Taraji, most of us die before our turn comes. We gotta ask for it right now.’ Now, I understand that because there was a time I felt the same way because that’s what I was told.”

Sharpe asked Mo’Nique why she thinks she didn’t receive the same public support as Henson. “It was the messenger,” she said. “I should just be grateful I got invited to the party. ‘You’re a big, fat Black woman. How dare you be the one.'”

“And then on top of that, you’re saying names,” she continued. “You’re saying Oprah’s name out loud. You’re saying Tyler’s name out loud. You’re saying Lee’s name out loud. You’re saying Lionsgate out loud. That’s not what we do. We say ‘they.’ We say the people. We say the studio. We say the producers. How dare you actually say our heroes names? These are our heroes. How could you say their names out loud?”

Like Katt Williams last month, Mo’Nique aired out Black Hollywood during her Club Shay Shay visit, also suggesting that there was tension between Henson and Oprah Winfrey on The Color Purple, despite both of their denials.

For background, Mo’Nique’s issues with Winfrey stem from the former Parkers star alleging that she was “blackballed” by Winfrey after declining to do unpaid promotion for the 2009 drama Precious. The relationship between the two has been strained ever since, with Tyler Perry and Lee Daniels being thrown into the feud, although the latter gave a public apology to Mo’Nique and re-established a working relationship with her.

As for Perry, in 2022, Mo’Nique recorded a phone conversation that took place after their decade-long rift. Perry reportedly said he intended to publicly apologize to Mo’Nique as long as her husband, Sidney Hicks, wasn’t involved, and as long as she apologized to him and Winfrey over her “blackball” allegations.

On Club Shay Shay, Mo’Nique insinuated that Winfrey made an example out of her when allegedly preventing the Oscar-winner from taking on consistent acting work post-Precious.

“We [acted] like our eyes didn’t see what it saw when we watched that promotion happen with The Color Purple,” Monique said at the 31:50-minute mark. “We wanted to act like we didn’t see how Oprah Winfrey treated Taraji.”

Mo’Nique also tackled Winfrey and Henson standing awkwardly together in promotional appearances for The Color Purple. “In my humble opinion, when you saw her walk up, you saw that there was tension,” Mo’Nique explained. “You saw that there was something happening. And then when you see Taraji write her a love letter, it’s like, listen, we gotta stand tall and stand strong on what we know.”

She continued, “We know you were mistreated. We know it wasn’t right. We know it was unfair. And then you turned around and say, ‘Oh, but Lady O handled it.’ I have a problem with that. That allows Lady O to keep doing what she’s doing and we’re in a position of, ‘I don’t want to say nothing because we saw how Mo’Nique got whooped.”