Mo’Nique pulled off her biggest win of award season by snagging the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
Mo’s performance in Precious had been generating Oscar buzz since the movie debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009. Beating out four other actresses including Penélope Cruz and Maggie Gyllenhal, the comedian was gracious in her acceptance speech.
“I would like to thank the Academy for showing that it can be about the performance and not the politics,” Mo’Nique said before offering her gratitude to Hattie McDaniel, who won the same award for her role as a slave named Mammy in Gone With the Wind back in 1940. The comedian took her tribute one step further by modeling her award night look after Hattie’s.
“The reason why I have on this royal blue dress is because it’s the color that Hattie McDaniel wore in 1940 when she accepted her Oscar,” Mo explained, adding that Hattie also wore a Gardenia that fateful night. “So, for you, Ms. Hattie McDaniel, I feel you all over me, and it’s about time the world feels you all over them.”
The actresses share the distinction of being honored for roles that are very controversial. As popular as Precious was in the mainstream, the film met harsh criticism from Black audiences who felt that it was demeaning to the community for showcasing it in the worst possible light. Still others said that Precious, which also won the award for Best Adapted Screenplay, simply didn’t grab their interest.
Mo didn’t pay attention to the naysayers, crediting her husband with helping her keep her focus.
“To my amazing husband, Sidney,” the Oscar-winning actress added, “thank you for showing me that sometimes you have to forgo doing what’s popular in order to do what’s right.”
Mo’Nique suffered abuse in her past, and she spoke to other victims in her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes. This time, however, a reporter asked if she could identify with the character or Mary Jones, and the comedian said she did—especially in the last scene because the dark, despicable character showed a vulnerability in stating that she just wanted to be loved.
“For as cruel as Mary Jones was” Mo’Nique told reporters, “for the monster that she was, everybody—and I don’t care who you are and what crime you’ve committed—everybody deserves to be loved even when they’re unlovable.”
But don’t think another award is going to change our girl Mo’Nique. As she put it, with a laugh, “I’m a comedian, who won an Oscar.”
Check out her full acceptance speech below.
— Sonya Eskridge