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MoNique went from Oscar winner to Hollywood pariah play free

edit:casino time:2019-02-08

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It's unclear who said the word "go," but that was definitely a race, and Mo'Nique, the Oscar winner and Queen of Comedy, wastes no time figuring out the pesky details. She's gone - sprinting ahead like a woman who still has something to prove.

Before heading back to the SLS to get ready for her Saturday night show, Mo'Nique passed an alfresco party scene near the Palazzo. She spotted a woman on top of a table in a body-con dress doing deep body rolls for no other reason than Vegas.

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"I got family members. I've seen these people before," she said. "I've seen them in my dreams. I've seen them in the bathroom mirror."

Honesty is not like Spanx to Mo'Nique. It isn't something you squeeze into to look better and then yank off at night to breathe. She needs it. She couldn't breathe without it.

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"I got to think about the little girl on the Greyhound bus coming to a place called Hollywood with no idea what she's coming into," Mo'Nique said. "For me, that little girl who's not here yet, she means everything to me. That's why I won't back down or back up."

It's as if Mo'Nique is in a constant state of uplifting everyone - whether they want it or not. She's giving crash courses in radical self-love, empowerment, taking no crap and how to be grown. Being grown in Hollywood might mean being difficult, leaving some money on the table or not getting the jobs - even if you have the Oscar.

When asked about Mo'Nique and her Netflix boycott in a GQ profile last spring, fellow comedian Tiffany Haddish had this to say: "My business run different than her business. I don't live her life. I don't have that husband of hers." Haddish also said that Netflix had opened doors. But Mo'Nique is far past the simply-being-grateful-for-the-opportunity phase of her career.

"Y'all all right?" she asked. "You sure?" she coaxed. Where is your mother? She wanted to know. Who is in charge? A small one points to a bigger one. "Y'all got money? Are y'all hungry?" One little girl is eating straight from a jar of Nutella - the sugary hazelnut spread. "Now that's gonna be your last spoonful!" commanded Mo'Nique.

Photo: Washington Post Photo By Marvin Joseph

"Hattie McDaniel took an ass-whooping for me. Eartha Kitt took an ass-whooping for me. Louise Beavers took an ass-whooping for me. These women took ass-whoopings so that I would not have to. So as I called their names out, it would be an honor for me if a little girl who's not here yet was able to say, 'Mo'Nique took an ass-whooping for me.' "

You can hear Mo'Nique's great exhale in her Vegas stage show. There isn't a subject she won't touch, from her "sister" Roseanne's recent missteps to homophobia in the black community to how good sex will save not just a marriage, but the world. Yes, she goes there, in six-inch stilettos and a strapless cocktail dress.

On the walk back toward the hotel there's an - apropos of nothing, really - debate between Mo'Nique and her opening act, comedian Correy Bell, about whether the devil is, in fact, a lie, or if he does, as they say, stay busy. Bell is in the anti-devil camp. Mo'Nique is playing his advocate.

"Who are these babies?" asked the comedian after spotting a group of ragtag-looking kids ranging in age from maybe 5 to 15. They're wandering aimlessly down the sidewalk in front of her, the Little Rascals reincarnated.

Mo'Nique inside the SLS Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, where she just started a residency - and became the first black female comedian to do so. The actress and comedian recently called for a boycott of ... more

She's been calling it like she sees it since way back, when she starred in "The Parkers," the 1999 UPN hit sitcom that gave her a platform on television. Back then, a UPN exec asked her to shave her legs, and she said no thank you.

Wait. No, they are not "fans" to Mo'Nique. She is big on word choice. Fans is short for fanatics (which can have a disapproving connotation), she explained, and she'll have none of that. The people who come to see her shows, which are packed, might be holding off on paying the light bill to buy a ticket to see her, and those are not fans.

Photo: Washington Post Photo By Marvin Joseph

"That was me keeping my truth, because if I shaved my legs, then you're going to tell me, 'Well, listen, we really don't like how you talk,' " she said later at the Sayers Club, where she's opening her Vegas residency. "And if I change the way I talk, 'Well, now we don't like the way you dress.' Well damn, now I'm looking in the mirror, and I don't know this b----, because I've changed her all up to satisfy what you think I should be."

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Perhaps the better question is: Who is it? Hollywood can't mention Mo'Nique without also mentioning her husband, manager and business partner, Sidney Hicks. It's Sidney's voice you hear (on phone recordings the couple released) pressing Tyler Perry to admit that Mo'Nique's reputation was unfairly damaged after she declined to do international press for the film "Precious" unless more money was involved. Sidney is even-keeled and unapologetic, direct and yet polite. He's an unwavering advocate for his wife. Mo'Nique described the pair, who met cracking jokes in the back of class at Randallstown High School, 30 minutes north of Baltimore, as an enigma.

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