Comedian and actress Mo’Nique has accused Oprah Winfrey of treating black and white people who were “accused of the same allegations” differently.
In an open letter to Oprah posted on her Instagram (see below), Mo’Nique referred to an interview that Oprah did with Norah O’Donnell on CBS’s This Morning Show in October 2017.
That interview took place soon after the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault scandal broke.
During the interview, Oprah, according to Mo’Nique, was asked about Weinstein.
Mo’Nique claimed that Oprah warned about making it all about Harvey Weinstein although she was “going to be part of a documentary on Michael Jackson and Russell Simmons.”
“… you said as it pertained to him [Harvey Weinstein] that ‘you always try to look at the Rainbow in the clouds, whatever is the silver lining.’ You also said ‘if we make this all about Harvey Weinstein then we have lost the moment’. When you either are or were going to be a part of the documentary on Michael Jackson and Russell Simmons. How is that not making it all about them?”
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Dear @oprah, I felt compelled to write you this open letter after observing the disparity in the way that you seem to treat people, who were accused of the same allegations. You did an interview on the CBS Morning Show and were asked about Harvey Weinstein by Norah O’Donnell, and you said as it pertained to him that you “always try to look at the Rainbow in the clouds, whatever is the “silver lining”. You also said “if we make this all about Harvey Weinstein then we have lost the moment”. When you either are, or were going to be a part of documentary on Michael Jackson, and Russell Simmons, how is that not making it all about them? Interestingly, Brother M.J. was acquitted, and deceased, so how is he not off limits? Russell and Harvey are accused of the same thing so in fairness how do you not “support” the accusers of both as you said you did with R.S. or you look for the silver lining for both like you said you did for H.W.? The only difference between the two is there skin color and doesn’t H.W. have way more accusers? My personal experience with you is you’ve watched me as a black women be accused of being difficult for not promoting “Precious” internationally for Lions Gate, at Lions Gate, Tyler Perry and your request, despite the fact my deal was with Lee Daniels Entertainment. And, how are you for black women when you hear Tyler on audio saying I was right and he was going to speak up but you or him still haven’t said a word? When I was sixteen and I meet you at your local show in Baltimore, I told you I wanted to be just like you when I grew up. You responded, “ you have to work really really hard”. My sixteen year old self didn’t know that you in your silence in the face of wrongdoing, would make my life “harder”. Lastly, please consider standing by the people who are right and not just the “right people”. Love you to life, Mo’Nique
Mo’Nique accuses Oprah of treating people differently based on their skin color
Mo’Nique, 52, argued that since a court had acquitted Michael Jackson and he has since died, he should be “off limits.” She said that Russell and Harvey were accused of the same crimes and wondered why Winfrey was willing to support the accusers of Russell Simmons while looking for the silver lining in Weinstein’s case.
She argued that Winfrey’s position was hypocritical and that the only difference between Russell Simmons and Weinstein was their skin color.
Winfrey recently withdrew her support for the documentary film, titled On the Record, that Mo’Nique referenced in her statement. The documentary details the allegations of sexual misconduct that some women made against hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons.
The Daily Beast also noted that Winfrey did say on the CBS This Morning interview that the Weinstein scandal was a “watershed moment” that went beyond Weinstein himself. According to the report, Winfrey said that if we make it all about Weinstein we would lose the opportunity to address the problem of sexual harassment and assault on a broader scope.
Mo’Nique is also not the only African American who criticized Oprah Winfrey before she withdrew her support for the Russell Simmons documentary. Rapper 50 Cent also criticized her, saying that she was overlooking the fact that “the penalties have been far more extreme for African American men.”
Mo’Nique said Oprah’s silence made her life “harder”
Mo’Nique then moved on to her personal experience. She alleged that Winfrey did not stick up for her when she was accused of being difficult for not helping to promote Lionsgate’s 2009 drama film, Precious.
“My personal experience with you is you’ve watched me as a black women be accused of being difficult for not promoting ‘Precious’ internationally for Lions Gate… how are you for black women when you hear Tyler on audio saying I was right and he was going to speak up but you or him still haven’t said a word?”
She recalled that when, as a 16-year-old, she first met Oprah Winfrey in Baltimore, she told Oprah that she wanted to be like her. Oprah responded that she would have to work very hard. She said that she never anticipated at the time that her hero would by her silence be the one to make her life harder.
“My sixteen-year-old self didn’t know that you in your silence in the face of wrongdoing, would make my life ‘harder.'”
She then ended her statement by saying that Winfrey should stand by people “who are right,” and not the “right people.”
This is not the first time that Mo’Nique has publicly aired her grievance against Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, and Lee Daniels, over how she was allegedly “blackballed” due to her refusal to campaign for the movie Precious. She made comments about the issue during an appearance at the Apollo Theatre in Los Angeles in May 2017 (see video below).
Mo’Nique won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Precious.
Monsters and Critics also reported that Mo’Nique accused Winfrey of bringing her parents and her brother, Gerald Himes, to her show. Mo’Nique had previously accused her brother of sexually abusing her. She said Winfrey only told her that her brother would appear on the show. She did not tell her that her parents would also appear with him.