Mo'Nique has parlayed an extremely successful stand-up profession into a career that's seen her become an actress, author, clothing designer and even the host of her own late night talk show.
Mo'Nique got her start as a young college student when, on a dare from her brother Steven, she took the stage one night during an open mic session at the Comedy Factory Outlet in Baltimore. The audience loved her, and the club owners offered her the chance to host her own show at a local beauty parlor the following week for $25. Soon, Mo'Nique was taking the stage every chance she could. When she was offered the chance by her employer to relocate to Atlanta, Mo'Nique jumped at it, believing she'd catch more breaks and find more opportunities in the South to pursue her comedy.
In 1989, Mo'Nique got her first significant break when she was selected to appear on "It's Showtime at the Apollo." Other big-ticket appearances soon followed, including Russell Simmons' Def Comedy Jam and BET's Comic View. After a handful of appearances on the UPN comedy "Moesha," and several other television spots, including an appearance on "The Bernie Mac Show," Mo'Nique was launched full-time in the living rooms of American homes in 1999 with a starring role in the UPN sitcom, "The Parkers." The comedy ran five seasons, and garnered Mo'Nique three NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series.
To help stay atop her game, Mo'Nique headlined the 2001 smash hit Queens of Comedy, the successful female version of The Original Kings of Comedy tour. The album produced from those Queens shows, which also featured Adele Givens, Laura Hayes and Sommore, earned a 2002 Grammy nomination for Best Spoken Comedy Album. From there, Mo'Nique returned to the Apollo, this time as host of the program, "It's Showtime at the Apollo," the first female comedian to ever hold that title.
In 2003, Mo'Nique added author to her expanding resume when she penned the riotous "Skinny Women Are Evil: Notes of a Big Girl in a Small-Minded World." A second title, "Skinny Cooks Can't Be Trusted" was published in 2006.
Her comedy was also the focus of smaller roles in "Soul Plane" and "Hair Show." In addition, she co-starred with Vivica A. Fox in "Two Can Play That Game," which earned her an NAACP Image Award Nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture. Mo'Nique returned to television to host the Oxygen Network's "Mo'Nique's F.A.T. Chance," a beauty contest featuring all plus-sized women. In 2006, the comedian's extra pounds were at the center of "Phat Girlz," a film about an overweight fashion designer in search of love. That same year, Mo'Nique stepped into her meatiest role yet in "Shadowboxer."
She next appeared in "Precious," a film based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire. She was cast as Mary Jones, an angry and abusive mother. It was an ugly role, but one Mo'Nique knew how to play. As a child, she herself had been molested by her oldest brother, Gerald, and she says she drew on that experience to play the part. It resulted in her first Academy Award win.
BET forked over the most money it ever has to a performer for her to host her own late night talk show, "The Mo'Nique Show," which debuted in the fall of 2009.
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