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Why Mo’Nique Deserves To Be Paid In Full

Her problems point to a larger societal problem we must address.

I really hope Get Out wins the Oscar for Best Picture on March 4, but I’m way more invested in getting Netflix (or some other PR-savvy streaming service — *cough* Amazon *cough*) to cut Mo’Nique a respectable check.

It’s difficult to rejoice in symbolic victories, like Jordan Peele’s well-deserved Oscar nomination, or the Recording Academy’s sudden taste for gentrified rap caviar, when an Academy Award-winning, box office-topping, stand-up-slash-sitcom-legend like Mo’Nique is still being low-balled by the same geniuses who tricked off $16 million to secure the talents of Amy Schumer and DeRay Davis, last year.

I’ve loved DeRay since he was freestyling about his imaginary broken arm in Kanye West’s “Through The Wire” music video, but he hasn’t put in a quarter of the work of his OG Mo’Nique. Yet, Netflix has a formula that says he’s worth $5 million to her $500,000? Is that based off touring? The number of points he won on Wild ’n Out? Or does Netflix really believe that 417,000 people are going to sign up to pay $10.99-per-month for their service off the strength of DeRay’s latest special?

For those fixing their minds to justify a market that pays $11 million for Amy Schumer, but offers $500,000 (before taxes?) to Mo’Nique, consider these box office receipts, from Mo herself:

“Amy Schumer’s budget for Snatched was $42 million, and it made $45 million … That’s a $3 million profit … Almost Christmas’ budget was $17 million, and it made $42 million.”

You read those numbers right. Monique’s movie made $22 million more, despite being in almost 1,000 less theaters. So what logic justifies the pay discrepancy, besides the fact that Mo’Nique is a big, black unapologetic queen in an industry that can barely stomach Lupita?

Is the real story here that Netflix blew their original content budget on Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock and the rest of their A-list stable?

If that’s what’s going on, at least they aren’t trying to play Mo’nique like this out of pure disrespect. It would be more like when the stock market crashed and the majority of the nation suddenly felt comfortable handing the keys to the country over to a black man.

If you haven’t sensed the pattern, white institutions only buy black when they’re in the red. It took for Hollywood to burn from sexual assault reckonings and literal wildfires for the Academy to act on its century-long diversity problem. But this year’s colorful list of nominees are still in for a rude awakening if they think their red carpet arrival will ensure good work and fair pay for years to come.

Whether it’s 2010’s best actress or the most beloved comedian of a generation, black artists have to go through hell to get paid their true worth.

Sure, it feels like a victory that 12 years of Dave Chappelle’s genius concentrated into a few hours of comedy specials is magically worth $40 million, but we can stop pretending that these numbers are based in logic or fairness. But you know better than Jada, right?

Netflix, if you broke the budget, just tell us like Kanye and Nelly did and we’ll stream you back into the game. But don't think you can pimp B-List icons like Mo’Nique and Wanda Sykes (B as in blacklist; or, individuals who sustain black excellence, against all American odds and obstacles) and not feel the karmic effects in your bottom line.


And any person of color who makes and/or consumes content everyday within this fucked up media Matrix that isn’t standing with Mo’nique, I’ll bet my measly paycheck you’re not getting paid what you’re worth at work, either. So you can stop acting like you have something to lose.


Just don’t use the excuse that you see her point, but don’t agree with her approach; as if you’ve spent decades fighting for quarters on the dollar while delivering thrice the results, and are somehow wiser than someone who paved your way; someone who continues to show you how to move through Hollywood vultures without being victimized.

But in Black Hollywood’s Colin Kaepernick moment, so many so-called fans, peers and leaders remain Cam Newton to the woke shit. Comfy on the stale side of history, worried about ruining their own chance at a trophy. Sitting blind to the truth of how worthless that gold is when all is said and done.

According to IMDB, Mo has more award wins (57) than Eddie Murphy (30), Whoopi Goldberg (55), Kevin Hart (15) and every aforementioned comedian (Schumer, Rock and Chappelle all have less than 20). And what has trickled down from her hope and history? A $500,000 offer from one of the only companies making money off streaming.

In the last months of Barack Obama’s presidency, The New York Times published a report stating that black American families make $57 for every $100 made by a white family.

According to the Washington Post, the median income for white families in Washington D.C. is $120,000. For black families, it’s $41,000. Average net worth: $284,000 to $3,500.

This is why numbers are more important than statues.

And why rap unicorn Jay Electronica has a line that I feel should be mentioned in every discussion about black art and white awards:

“(Kendrick’s) got 11 Grammy nominations, y’all not equal / Mannn — F*** these white people / My grandma died at 82 scrubbing floors / And niggas still running around begging for awards?”

— Jay Electronica "The Curse Of Mayweather"

For those critiquing Mo’Nique’s strategy — instead of the system that has forced her to stand up and demand her worth — just admit it, you don’t have the answers, Sway.

And you’re not as brave or honest as Mo, who never hesitated to speak up for the underdog, whether on stage or behind the scenes. 

For those in the Academy, keep your trophies and moral victories from here on. Mo’Nique’s current negotiations are proof that they were never worth much in the first place; and there’s no telling how much they’ll depreciate once Hollywood’s done burning.

So Netflix, cut the check before we’re really forced to cut the chord. I can borrow a password to finish Black Mirror. But trust me, nobody is going to miss Schumer and DeRay more than you will miss our monthly subscriptions.

Do the right thing.

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