Being full-figured and successful in the movie business is an oxymoron. Mo’Nique defies the stereotypical narrow lens of what success looks like. Co-Executive Producer of the newly released film “Blackbird,” Mo’Nique tackles what others want to brush under the rug, religious views on homosexuality, self-identification and acceptance. Along side Queen Latifah in the HBO movie Bessie, aired May 16, Mo’Nique as Ma Rainey delved into uncharted waters of the 1920s and 30s.
Mo’Nique is very well-known for her role as the rash outspoken Professor Oglevee hungry mother on The Parkers, the self-absorbed borderline insane mother in the hit movie Precious, that garnered her an Academy Award, and the feisty no-holds-barred late night talk show host. Afterwards, it seemed as if she went underground. To the contrary, Mo’Nique was preparing herself for an even greater role and curator of change.
When Patrik-Ian Polk’s script, Blackbird, came across Mo’Nique, she knew it was a project that she had to be involved in. Delving into stereotypes and idiosyncrasies that exist not only in the African American community, but in other ethnicities as well, Mo’Nique speaks to and for the unheard. “I want to give the best honest…most raw and rare performance to try and bring those people to life. So hopefully, those [individuals] will see themselves in that character,” Mo’Nique explained. “Often times we can’t see ourselves until we see it in somebody else.”
Again as Bessie Smith’s loving supportive friend and music industry colleague, Ma Rainey, Mo’Nique’s character offered hope and guidance. After a very successful music career lulled to a near stop, Bessie found consonance with fellow Blues singer Ma Rainey. Through the turmoil of losing her husband and adopted son, the stagnation of her career, and final ending of her bisexual relationship, Bessie had hit an emotional brick wall, Ma Rainey consoled, reassured and guided her back to the life she loved. Singing the Blues was the heart and soul of Bessie Smith. A freak car accident caused the untimely demise of the sultry Blues singer at the age of 43.
Some times what seems to be a traumatic downfall can turnaround to be your biggest comeback. Just as Bessie’s life took a swift left turn, her inner strength was ignited setting her back center stage in a “once in a lifetime” deal with Columbia records. Bessie’s long reflective look in the mirror and ultimate redirecting of her focus is an inspiration to those aspiring for more in their careers, families and finances. For more on the biopic movie of Bessie Smith, visit HBO’s website. Check out Patrik-Ian Polk’s Blackbird website to find where to view the film in theaters near you. Follow Mo’Nique on Twitter and Instagram for the latest updates on what is next for her.