OPINION | Mo’Nique’s triumph shows me I can do it, too


“Momma, you woke me up!” my son Andrew yelled down from upstairs.

My husband Shawn shouted from down in the basement, “Hey up there, cut out all that screaming. I’ve told you about that yelling!”

I didn’t have time to apologize. I was jumping and clapping and crying and screaming all at the same time. My sister Mo’Nique had just won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Precious.

When she took that deep breath before speaking, I could feel her spirit up on that stage and it moved me to tears. Her image with that statue in her hand was not only deserved, but a testament to her determination.

Mo has battled abuse as a child at the hands of her brother as well as a broken marriage, and still she is a survivor. Not just a survivor – she shows women who look like her what is possible if you never let your obstacles and the bad things that happen in your life keep you down. If you just keep putting one foot in front of the other and don’t look back, God will get you where He wants you to be!

See, Mo’Nique ain’t Halle Berry. Halle Berry is a Hollywood starlet with a body like a Greek goddess. She’s untouchable, always put together, and her stomach is a six pack instead of a keg like mine.

Halle is our idol; she ain’t one of us! The closest we can come to Halle Berry is buying her cologne and trying to smell like her. Mo’Nique, see, she’s our sister; she is one of us. She’s a sister girl, down home and real, just like a lot of women I know. Just like me!

So when Mo began speaking, she wasn’t talking to all those folks in the audience – she was talking just to me. When she began her speech, we shared an intimate moment in my living room, as if we were talking on the phone or via Skype. I felt like she could see the tears rolling down my face as I heard her words…

When she paid tribute to Hattie McDaniel on stage and referenced the bigotry and racism that Hattie went through, I curled up on the couch in the fetal position. Back in 1940, when Hattie became the first African American woman to win an Oscar for her supporting role in Gone with the Wind, they were on her behind like a spider monkey with death threats, racist rants, hateful and hurtful letters.

All Hattie wanted to do was act, and she did a good job at it, so much so that she was nominated for an Oscar and won. We will never know the cruelty that Hattie faced! There was no TMZ in 1940 to show the crosses burning in her yard or the death threats that came in the mail or the racist telephone calls that came to her home that called her a ni**er.

She endured all that, as Mo’Nique said, so that Mo’Nique didn’t have to. And I appreciated the fact that not only did Mo honor Hattie with the flower in her hair and the color of dress that she chose to wore at the awards ceremony, but with a portion of her speech. Hattie took it all so that Mo could walk on that stage with her head held high and accept that award based on her performance and not the politics of the Academy Awards.

The folks in Hollywood came down hard on Mo’Nique because she refused to campaign after being nominated for an Oscar. Once you’re nominated, you’re supposed to work up until the day of the awards ceremony kissing butt and brownnosing, hoping the people who vote for the winners give you favor.

That’s how it’s been done for years, but Mo’Nique flat out refused to do it. They thought she was crazy and called her “selfish” and accused her of not being a “team player.” But Mo stood strong in her conviction that her body of work should speak for itself…and she was right!

Shawn and Andrew couldn’t understand what it meant for me to see her up on stage. They didn’t understand why I was screaming. Mo’Nique on that stage meant to me that I could do it, too. She looks like me. She comes from where I came from. Her story is my story. Her husband looks like my husband.

After seeing her there, I’m kicking it up and taking it to the next level.

Yeah, that’s right, I said it: God has a plan, and I’m going to keep walking toward my destiny until I get there.

Sheletta Brundidge is a regular contributor to the MSR and host of the CrossRoads television program airing Sundays at 7:30 am on KSTC TV. She welcomes reader responses to sheletta@msn.com, or visit her website at http://sheletta.com.