Oscar-winning actor Mo’Nique and world-famous talk show host Oprah Winfrey have been at each other’s throats for years. Yes, even though the famous pair were once close friends, it seems that their bond broke down spectacularly. And in July 2019 Mo’Nique shared a brutally honest video that revealed new details of their nasty fallout and, in doing so, took the feud to new levels.
But why did their relationship turn so sour? Well, Mo’Nique has spoken out about the feud’s origins on a number of occasions. You see, apparently the Oscar winner felt betrayed by Oprah after the chat show host orchestrated a very public incident involving several of Mo’Nique’s family members. And even though the actor has called out her former friend demanding an apology, it seems that – as of July 2019 – she still hasn’t gotten what she wanted.
In July 2019 Mo’Nique recorded a video with Comedy Hype in which she revealed new details about the pair’s long, bitter battle. The actor also again requested that Oprah should properly apologize to her. And even though Oprah herself didn’t comment, it’s safe to say that Mo’Nique gained the internet’s attention, at least: the clip had accrued close to 900,000 views and over 7,000 comments less than two months after it was posted. But how exactly did the feud begin?
The pair’s animosity seems to have its roots in Mo’Nique’s Oscar-winning role in Precious – a movie inspired by Sapphire’s book, Push. In the film, she played a woman called Mary Jones: the cruel mom of the title character. As you may already know, Precious grapples with a number of serious themes, including rape and incest. And it seems that parts of the movie reminded Mo’Nique of her own personal experiences.
During promotion for the film, Mo’Nique alleged to Essence magazine in 2008 that she herself had been sexually assaulted by her own sibling. “I was molested by my older brother. And even when I confronted him and told my parents, he said I was lying, and nothing was really done,” she claimed.
Mo’Nique further revealed that while she didn’t view her parents as responsible for what had happened, she would always remember their reactions to her claims. “My father was very upset, but it never got mentioned again,” she said. “I’ll never forget my mother saying, ‘If it’s true, it will surface again,’ and I remember thinking, ‘Why would I lie? Why is there even an if in this?’”
Perhaps because Mo’Nique was able to draw on her own harrowing experiences, she was lauded by critics for her performance in Precious. The actor nabbed a number of awards for her role in the movie, including an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. And it seems that at this point in Mo’Nique’s career, she and Oprah were still firm friends. After all, when the actor accepted her trophy in March 2010, she thanked Oprah personally, saying, “Because you touched it, the whole world saw it.” But the stars’ budding friendship would soon be left in tatters.
In April 2010 Mo’Nique’s brother, Gerald Imes – the person she had accused of sexually abusing her – appeared on Oprah’s show. During their interview, Imes alleged that he had in fact abused Mo’Nique – just as she’d claimed. He apologized to his sister and admitted he had “betrayed everybody’s trust.” The actor herself, however, was not there.
According to Imes, he felt that taking illicit substances had led him to become abusive. “I started using cocaine, heroine [and] alcohol at the age of 11. I used these drugs to hide my own pain – to hide my own fears… The drugs allowed me and afforded me the opportunity to hurt my sister,” he said. The actor’s brother also claimed that he himself had been sexually abused.
Mo’Nique’s mother and father also appeared on the show. “It was such a heartbreaking thing to accept,” her mother, Alice, said. She then told Oprah that she wanted to believe that her daughter’s role in Precious may have been beneficial to her. “Okay, it took until she was 42 to do this. I don’t care how long it took. I’m just happy it happened,” Alice told the chat show host.
Imes – who spent 15 years behind bars for sexually assaulting someone else – then confessed to Oprah that he hoped to reunite with Mo’Nique one day. He also appeared to forgive his sister for the claims that she had made against him. “I’m not angry [about] the statements she made by coming forward. I’m proud that she was able to come to a place where she could relinquish her pain – her hurt,” he said.
But instead of healing a family rift, the interview appeared to have made the situation far worse. You see, in 2017 it became obvious that Mo’Nique had some serious beef with Oprah. During a comedy set at the Apollo Theater, the Oscar winner called out various people she was angry with, including the acclaimed talk show host. In fact, she said on stage that Oprah could “suck my d**k – if I had one.”
After this explicit outburst, Mo’Nique later released a video where she further explained her anger toward Oprah in that same year. “That particular night when I said what I said, I’m unapologetic for saying it,” she announced. The actor then detailed what had really happened in the lead up to her family appearing on Oprah’s show, and why she felt that her former friend had betrayed her.
The Oscar winner explained, “There was a time [when] I got a personal phone call from Oprah Winfrey. It was during the whole awards season.” According to Mo’Nique, the chat show host told her that Imes had been in contact. In Mo’Nique’s words, Oprah had said to her friend, “He wants to know if he can come on the show. And before I agree to him coming on the show, I need to call you up to get your approval.”
Allegedly, Oprah had then said she wanted Mo’Nique to be interviewed on the show, too. But the actor refused. “Everybody’s allowed to change. My brother could truly be a changed person and he could come on the show and explain it, but I don’t want no part of it,” the Oscar winner explained during her video.
Then, according to Mo’Nique, she and Oprah had a “very personal and intimate” conversation, discussing “how we dealt with our families, how we dealt with being in our position, how our families were trying to grab and take. We had that conversation. I shared with this woman – especially about my mother.”
And Mo’Nique went on, “Now I want y’all to hear me. I shared with Oprah that me and my mother were not on good terms. I really shared with her what’s going on with my family. She never says anywhere in that conversation, ‘Mo’Nique, I’m going to have your mother on the show.’”
After hanging up the phone, Mo’Nique was apparently pleased that Oprah had seemed to consider her feelings before putting her brother on the show. But then their friendship took a nosedive. You see, while the actor was taking a break from her own show in her trailer, she turned on her television and saw the episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show that her brother was scheduled to appear on. However, unbeknownst to Mo’Nique, her parents were also in attendance.
During the video, Mo’Nique revealed that she would never have consented to her mom being interviewed. “Had Oprah said to me, ‘I have your mother,’ I would’ve said ‘Shut that s*** down,’” she explained. “Because I don’t want the world seeing my mother being so greedy over money that she’s willing to do anything to go on your show.”
After the show aired, Oprah reportedly did call Mo’Nique. “When she called, I got butterflies in my stomach,” the Oscar winner said during the video. But apparently the host didn’t apologize, and Mo’Nique said she was too “caught up in the Oprah whirlwind” to tell her how angry she was. So she seemingly decided to convey exactly how she felt to the chat show host the next time that the pair crossed paths.
Eventually, the Oscar winner got in touch with Oprah again. According to Mo’Nique, the host told her, “I did not know that your parents were going to be there. Let me check into it, and I’ll get back to y’all.” But Mo’Nique alleged that she never did. In fact, the two apparently didn’t meet again until they both attended a star-studded Oscar party for Lupita Nyong’o – when their feud worsened.
At the party, Mo’Nique reportedly demanded an apology from Oprah in front of a number of their fellow partygoers. She apparently told the other woman, “Sister, you and I have to have a conversation.” She also allegedly said that she had admired her as a child – and this had made the situation hurt all the more. And according to Mo’Nique, the host responded with, “If I did something that offended you, I’m sorry.” But the Oscar winner seemingly didn’t consider this to be a proper apology.
By contrast, Oprah remained quiet about the affair until the following year. You see, while promoting her new movie A Wrinkle in Time, she opened up about Mo’Nique to Global Grind TV in 2018. “It’s a law that, if you meet negative with negative, you will just have a combustive, negative force of energy,” the star said.
The chat show legend went on, “You can’t meet negative energy where it is. You have to rise above it; you have to transcend it. You have to be the light… It takes just a little bit of light, and we are warriors of the light. I would never stoop to try to meet somebody where they are negatively. [I] don’t care who they are.”
After Oprah’s interview, one of her fans took to Twitter and shared the following comment: “Warriors of the Light… And it takes a great amount of darkness to overcome the light! So we can see clearly who is shining vs. who is whining. I love me some Oprah.” Mo’Nique, though, saw the tweet and responded, “My love, fake gold shines, too, but it doesn’t change the fact that it will turn your neck green.”
The feud between the two women still seemingly hasn’t ended, either. As we already know, in 2019 Mo’Nique released another video calling out the chat show host. What’s more, parts of this one – made in conjunction with Comedy Hype – were directed right at the host herself. “Oprah Winfrey, you know what you need to do,” the Oscar winner said. “And stop hiding behind what you call ‘negative comments.’”
Mo’Nique then explained the whole situation once more: the problem of her mother being on Oprah’s show. But the actor seemed most hurt over the conversation she’d had with the host about their respective moms. “I shared my relationship with her about my mother, and she shared hers with me, which I will never repeat, because she shared it with me about her mother and father,” she stated.
Oprah has, in fact, shared a lot of details about her life – and her parents – over the years. Her mother was a teenager when she had her. The young single mom left the little girl with her grandmother, who allegedly beat her with a stick if she ever behaved poorly. And the family was also so impoverished that some of the future star’s clothes were made from sacking.
The famous host also opened up about her childhood and her relationship with her mom in an interview with the Washington Post in 1986. “I ran away from home. I started acting out my need for attention – my need to be loved. My mother didn’t have the time. She worked every day as a maid,” the TV personality explained. “I was smart, and my mother – because she didn’t have the time for me, I think – tried to stifle it.”
If this type of candid comment was similar to the secret that Oprah shared with Mo’Nique, though, the world will probably never know. But the Oscar winner had a lot more to say in her Comedy Hype video. “I’m watching my brother, who molested me, sit on this stage trying to paint this picture of ‘I’m trying to be a help,’” she said. On the show itself, the host had told Imes, “[Mo’Nique] said if you expressing what you had done to her could save one family, then it would be worth it.”
The Oscar winner then revealed that she was still waiting for a real apology from Oprah. “Until that woman says, ‘Let me apologize to you publicly,’ it’ll be ’til the day I leave this earth,” she said, before talking to the star directly. “Because what you did was malicious, and it was intentional, and it was ugly,” she said.
And during the video, Mo’Nique also detailed the ways in which she had tried to contact the chat show host before resorting to confronting her at the Oscar party. “Keep in mind I was trying to reach out to have this private conversation. No return calls, [and] whatever numbers she did give no longer worked. However it went, I could not get to Oprah Winfrey.”
Mo’Nique also reflected on what she remembered happening at the infamous Oscar party during the video, too. According to the actor, other women had witnessed her and Oprah argue. “People can say I’m loud, they can say I’m tactless, they can say I’m overbearing – as Oprah Winfrey has considered me – but what they’ve never said is, ‘She’s a liar,’” she announced.
The actor continued, “Ain’t nobody ever said Mo’Nique is lying. So for all the women that was there last night, they know exactly what was said. I said to her, “How could you have my mother on your show? That’s not what we discussed, and you don’t understand what I’ve had to walk through since you had my mother on your show.”
In fact, Mo’Nique had had to deal with people approaching her on the street and offering their own – unsolicited – opinions about her mom. “I gotta deal with women coming up to me in Walmart and saying, ‘Your mother ain’t s***,” she explained. “I gotta defend. They ain’t lying, but I still got to defend it, cos that’s my mother.”
Mo’Nique then opted to speak directly to Oprah once more. “You don’t understand what position you put me in, doing that,” she said. “So, this my moment to talk to you.” And the actor also took the opportunity to again rip into the host’s first apology to her. “’If you think I did something wrong?’ No, Oprah, it ain’t what I think.”
Mo’Nique then talked about the first time she had met Oprah, and the massive impact it had on her. “I’m a little black fat girl from Baltimore, Maryland,” she said on the video. “And I saw this fat black woman on a TV show [and] said, ‘When I grow up, that’s what I want to do.’”
That woman on TV was, of course, Oprah. It turns out that a young Mo’Nique even got to meet her on a field trip. “I hugged that woman,” the Oscar winner revealed during the video. “I said, ‘When I grow up, Miss Winfrey, I want to do what you do.’ And she said, ‘You know, you’ve got to work really hard.’” So the aspiring actor seemingly followed Oprah’s advice to the letter, resulting in her own fame.
At one point, Mo’Nique went on to Oprah’s show, and the Oscar winner remembered what the host had said to her when she was a little girl. According to Mo’Nique, “The woman hugged me and said, ‘When I look at you, I ain’t doing nothing but looking at me.’” The actor went on, “And then when I remind her that’s what she said to me, she says, ‘Oh, I say that to everybody.’ Well, then what does that make you?”
However, comments about Mo’Nique’s video were slightly mixed. “[Mo’Nique] needs to not give people who mistreated her so much power over her emotions. It’s not healthy,” one person said. Conversely, many others sang the actor’s praises. One person was conspicuously absent, though: Oprah has yet to respond to the video, and perhaps she never will. So, at least for now, it seems that the pair’s feud is far from over.