Oscar 2009: Mo’Nique for Supporting Actress Oscar

The buzz about Mo’Nique as an Oscar contender in the Best Supporting Actress category began in January, when her new film, “Precious: Based on the Novel by Sapphire,” won three awards at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival: Jury, Audience and Acting kudos. 

As I pointed out in my review of the film, which also played at Cannes Film Fest in May, the entire cast is good, but it’s Mo’Nique who give the most riveting performance in an unexpectedly dramatic and emotional turn as she’s mostly associated with comedies.

As of early September, Mo’Nique is a frontrunner for the Supporting Actress Oscar (and other kudos). For some critics, hers is the performance to beat!
How did she get the part? “I remember the conversation with writer-director Lee Daniels very vividly. He called me up and said, ‘Hey, I got something, but it might fuck your career! I was like, ‘You know what Lee? Let me talk to my 17-year-old son about it. Make sure he’s cool.’ After I did that, it was like, ‘Sign me up, because what I was asked to do is simply called acting.
Mo’Nique said that part was exciting because it was challenging, both physically and emotionally: “I never looked in the mirror and said, ‘Oh my God! Because I wasn’t looking at Mo’Nique. I would watch Mo’Nique transform into Mo’Nique. It never freaked me. My character, Mary can’t have on makeup, because she can’t afford it.”
As a story of abusive, dysfunction relationship between mother and daughter, “Precious” is obviously a dark, dark story, though there’s some black humor in it.
Mo’Nique recalls that “The moment Lee Daniels said, ‘Cut,’ we played like we were children at a park. The whole set went up as if we had just said, ‘Hooray, the last day of school.’ We had crab legs brought in. Nobody wanted to walk around that set in that dark emotional place.”
Mo’Nique is highly aware of the buzz about the film and about her performance: “Any buzz is appreciated. The NAAC Image Awards, the Oscars, the award they might want to give me down at Maxine Walters’ preparatory school, it’s always appreciated.”
For her, the most gratifying aspect was “the moment Lee Daniels said to me when we wrapped that movie, ‘You gave me what I needed.’ That was my Oscar.”
“Precious” opens theatrically in November as an Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry’s presentation, which should elevate the picture to the status of a mass-see, event film.