Mo’Nique Wins Oscar Pays Tribute to Hattie McDaniel


First and foremost, congratulations to Monique Imes-Jackson (Mo’Nique) for her historic Oscar win.  Mo’Nique was classy and dignified,  when accepting the award in a gorgeous blue gown—her hair adorned with gardenias.  Her presence was a direct contrast to her  Precious character Mary–the role for which she was awarded the golden statuette–and in many ways a stark contrast to the Mo’Nique we know from her stand-up comedy shows and gigs like The Parkers. However, Mo’Nique has consistently “kept it real”, never compromising her beliefs and developing a bit of a controversial reputation because of it.

I loved Mo’Nique’s speech.  It was equal parts emotional, political, and appreciative.  Absent was the waterworks, so often displayed during such moments.  See  Halle Berry’s 2002 teary Oscar acceptance speech, in which she was so overcome with emotion she could barely speak and when she did it was erratic, inarticulate, and just plain too weepy for my taste.  Sure her win represented a 74 year barrier being broken, as she became the first woman of color to win the Best Actress Oscar.  But I would have been please to see her display slightly more dignity and poise—call it pride of craft.  She did after all earn the award? Right? In contrast, while Mo’Nique was clearly touched and honored; she stood tall, strong, and took the win, as an opportunity to reply to her critics.

Kate Harding features a terrific article on Salon.com entitled In defense of Mo’Nique’s Oscar speech, in which she confronts the mounting backlash Mo’Nique has faced by media critics, since the Oscar buzz began.  Mo’Nique’s refusal to campaign for the Oscar was met with disdain by Hollywood insiders,  who considered her ungrateful for the nomination.  For her part, Mo’Nique stated that her busy schedule [TV Talk Show, husband, twins] kept her too busy to go around schmoozing the Academy for the award.  Her win illustrates that the Academy voters sometimes recognize the talent and the merits of the performance above politics—a point Mo’Nique so pointedly made in her speech.  They got it right with Mo’Nique, but what are your thoughts on Sandra Bullock? I love Ms. Congeniality as much as anybody, but I’m not convinced her role in The Blind Side was better than Streep’s genius Julia Child or for that matter Gabourey Sidibe’s brave portrayal of the fictional Precious.   However, America’s latest Sweetheart has Oscar gold, so will go with it.  Why not?

Mo’Nique’s Oscar night wardrobe and speech paid tribute to Hattie McDaniel.   McDaniel won the 1940 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, making her the first African American to win an Oscar. She was also the first African American ever to be nominated.  When McDaniel won the Award in 1940, she too wore a blue gown and decorated her hair with gardenias.  Similarly, Halle Berry paid homage to Dorothy Dandridge, Lena Horne, and Diahann Carroll, among others, in her speech.  However, you will note Hattie McDaniel was suspiciously absent from Berry’s speech.  Mo’Nique’s speech will go a long way to resurging interest in McDaniel’s storied tapestry of a life.  As of 10:00 AM today “Hattie McDaniel” peaked as a top search term on Google Trends.  The book  Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition and White Hollywood is almost sold out on Amazon.com.

So what are your thoughts on Mo’Nique’s road to Oscar gold.  Has she been difficult and ungrateful as many critics might suggest? Did she display the proper amount of decorum and emotion that such a high honor deserves?  Was her cool, calm, and collected presences a purposeful critique of Berry’s theatrics?  Thoughts.

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