Mo'Nique says Oprah Winfrey 'betrayed' her, and she's still waiting for an apology

Mo’Nique is rehashing her grievances against Oprah Winfrey, whom she says owes her a slew of apologies.

The Oscar-winning multi-hyphenate detailed her yearslong disgruntlement with the media mogul Wednesday on the “Club Shay Shay” podcast, dropping Winfrey’s name several times over the course of the nearly three-hour interview.

“See, when I speak about Oprah Winfrey — and let me be clear, I love that sister — I speak about that woman because she’s spoken about me,” Mo’Nique prefaced her statements to host Shannon Sharpe. “And when you begin to speak about me privately, I’m going to speak about you publicly.”

It all started in 2010, Mo’Nique said, when she won the supporting actress Oscar for her role in Lee Daniels’ drama “Precious.” That night, husband Sidney Hicks told her that Winfrey seemed bothered that the crowd was cheering for Mo’Nique instead of her. (Winfrey was an executive producer on “Precious.”)

After that, Mo’Nique said, she started to notice that movie roles initially offered to her — including playing Gloria Gaines in 2013’s “The Butler” — ended up going to Winfrey. When she voiced her concern to Daniels, who was directing the film, he said he didn’t have the money or power to refuse Winfrey the job.

Mo’Nique said the same thing happened again after she was offered the role of a grandmother in an unnamed Richard Pryor biopic.

“Who then calls Lee Daniels and says, ‘I want to be the grandmother’?” Mo’Nique said.

Soon, the pattern felt like a coordinated effort to blackball her from Hollywood — an effort she suspected was spearheaded by Winfrey and Tyler Perry, who later admitted to Mo’Nique that he had started a rumor that she was difficult to work with.

Unbeknownst to Perry, Mo’Nique said, she had recorded his confession. But when she showed it to people, she said they were more troubled by her unauthorized recording than by Perry’s behavior.

“How does a Black woman win when you say, ‘Here he is right here,’ and I look to the community and say, ‘How long do we allow us to keep being exploited, used up, taken advantage of because we think somebody can give us an opportunity?,” she asked Sharpe. “If we keep operating like that, Shannon, you’re going to have a whole lot of us sitting right here in this same seat almost telling the same story.”

In the same year as the Oscars incident, Mo’Nique said, Winfrey “betrayed” her again.

One day, Winfrey called Mo’Nique and told her she had gotten a call from the comedian’s brother Gerald Imes, who sought to publicly apologize for molesting her when the two were children.

Mo’Nique in turn told the talk-show host that she didn’t want anything to do with her brother.

“She said, ‘Well if you want me to scratch the show, I will scratch it,’” Mo’Nique said. “I said, ‘Sis, don’t scratch it, because he could be a different person.’ I was like, ‘I appreciate that, sister,’ like, she didn’t have to call me.”

What Winfrey didn’t tell Mo’Nique was that her whole family would appear alongside her brother, discussing her trauma in her absence.

“I shared with her my family and what the dynamic was,” Mo’Nique said, “and you don’t tell me you’re going to have my mother and my father on your show, and you think that’s just OK?

“I can’t answer why Oprah Winfrey did what Oprah Winfrey did; only Oprah Winfrey can answer for her actions,” she added.

Mo’Nique also said that she’s tried several times over the years to discuss her issues with Winfrey personally, but she’s never been given the opportunity.

“I tried to talk to you privately, but then you became the great, mighty Oprah Winfrey and you were too busy to talk,” she said. “Well now I’m gonna talk about it.”

Mo’Nique said Winfrey’s behavior has been especially hurtful given that Winfrey had previously been a role model for her — someone she saw being successful, who looked like her.

When Sharpe asked Mo’Nique what it would take for her to forgive Perry and Winfrey, she replied: “Be accountable.”

“I’m hurt that y’all would allow yourselves to sit in something that you know that you’ve done wrong, and not say anything,” she said, adding that she’d like Perry to compensate her for the jobs she missed out on because of the rumor she says he spread about her.

“He cost my family millions,” Mo’Nique said. “If someone cost you millions, do you want that back?”

Representatives for Winfrey did not reply immediately to The Times’ request for comment.

Mo’Nique previously sued Netflix in 2019 for allegedly lowballing her in a deal for a comedy special. The two parties settled last June, and the special, “My Name Is Mo’Nique,” was released in April.

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