As Buffalo bears down to endure another cold, snowy winter, it’s easy to fall into dour and grouchy behavior. Comedian, entertainer and Academy Award-winning actress Mo’Nique is headed to Kleinhans Music Hall on Jan. 6 to open 2018 with a show that looks to lift hearts and temperatures … in the room, at least.
“I’m going to tell you something, this show is going to be so damn funny it’s going to warm everybody up,” Mo’Nique said during a recent phone interview. “I always tell people that if you want to get to know me, come to a show. You don’t have to read about me in the tabloids, you don’t have to listen to anyone else’s opinion.”
One of Mo’Nique’s enduring qualities is her outgoing positivity, which she wants to bring to the stage along with “real, open and honest conversations” mixed with “spicy words.”
“It’s not only being positive, but it’s speaking up and speaking out,” she said. “To tell the truth has almost become a bad word. What’s happening right now is that the world is getting a chance to see what America was built on. It’s in every arena and every walk of life. For us to stay positive is for us to stay honest.”
When Mo’Nique won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in 2009’s “Precious,” she was notably outspoken about the political gamesmanship played during awards season. She opened her award-winning speech with, “I would like to thank the Academy for showing that it can be about the performance and not the politics.”
In the minds of some, even “Precious” director Les Daniels, Mo’Nique’s attitude hurt her standing in Hollywood, although the actress wily notes that the same behaviors by her white counterparts are condoned and even celebrated.
On the phone, Mo’Nique is extremely warm and personable, but she’s not afraid to discuss difficult subjects without changing her empathetic tone. When the conversation moved to the recent news coverage of sexual harassment and abuse scandals, Mo’Nique – a survivor of abuse and rape – spoke openly about the issue.
“There are some women who have said they’ve been raped, and they can prove it, (the attackers) need to be dealt with accordingly,” Mo’Nique said. “But for the ones that are saying, ‘I got a script and he called me over to his house at midnight, that’s when I say, ‘Time out, guys.’ Are you upset because your character may be in question, or did you make a decision that may advance your career? That’s not rape. That’s not sexual assault.”
When pressed about abusers usually harass from a place of power and influence over the victim’s career, Mo’Nique responded:
“What we’re actually seeing right now is the blatant racism and sexism in a place called Hollywood,” she said. “I remember a few years back when I stood up to say, ‘Guys, it’s inequality. We’re not being paid fairly. We’re not being treated fairly.’ People looked at me and said, ‘What are you doing? Oh, here we go, here’s an angry black woman.’ Not only were people who were not my color saying it, people who were of color were saying, ‘Why won’t Mo’Nique be quiet?’ But when our sister Gwyneth Paltrow takes a stand, ‘I want to be paid like my male counterparts,’ we know she wasn’t talking about black men. She wants to be paid like white male counterparts. She received a standing ovation.”
Mo’Nique and her husband, Sidney Hicks, host a podcast, “Mo’Nique and Sidney’s Open Relationship” and even broadcast their workouts on Twitter (@moworldwide) and Instagram (@therealmoworldwide) to keep themselves accountable and engage with fans.
“Right now, we’re in a space where everybody wants to be quick and in a hurry,” she said. “We have spokespeople getting on TV saying, ‘You can do it in 90 days.’ No you can’t. I wanted to take people on the journey with me, and me with them, to see that it’s the turtle that wins the race, slow and steady. We post those videos as much as I can.”
As the new year begins, Mo’Nique is grateful for living through 2017 and looks forward to every day, because “Every day I get is a great day.”
“People always say, ‘What’s next for you, Mo’Nique?,’ she said. “I would run down this resume, and then the universe says to me, ‘Is that what you think it is? Because we have something different in mind.’ So I’ve learned to say that I hope tomorrow is next, because today is amazing.”
Mo’Nique, Nephew Tommy and Friends
8 p.m. Jan. 6 in Kleinhans Music Hall. Tickets are $32-$65. kleinhansbuffalo.org