Mo’Nique honored to fill void created by Arsenio’s absence

ATLANTA—Mo’Nique takes her position as one of the limited number of Blacks to ever host a nationally televised talk show very, very seriously.

In fact, during a recent phone call from her Atlanta residence, the 2010 Academy Award winner spoke on the significance of her Oscar award in addition to her successful late-night talk show on BET.


Although she earned the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for the film, “Precious,” she downplays her acting abilities and out of respect for the acting artistry, continues to call herself a comedienne who happened to win the prestigious acting award.

“I still stand on the shoulders of pioneers like Hattie McDaniel and Butterfly McQueen,” she offered humbly, while naming Richard Pryor as her ultimate comedic hero. She didn’t provide any foresight on upcoming new movie roles. “I’ll let you know when it happens,” she said.

Obviously, her focus has been on her TV career.

Since the debut of her BET talk show in October 2009, Mo’Nique has witnessed her Atlanta-based show quickly attain phenomenal success.

Earlier this spring, “The Mo’Nique Show” was rewarded with a new contract and will return for a second season this fall. Currently, the production is on summer hiatus while airing re-runs from the first season.

Mo’Nique concurs that her show fills a longtime void that has existed since the cancellation of the Arsenio Hall show on Fox-TV in May 1994.

Not since the Hall show, have Black notables and personalities been spotlighted “on the couch” where they are interviewed and given opportunities to provide insight into their career development and achievements.

Like Arsenio, the show offers a chance to showcase personalities typically ignored by major-media talk show hosts like Jay Leno, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel and Conan O’Brien.

“The Mo’Nique Show” offers a chance to witness both old and new school music acts—while providing a way to see their similarities, she says. “It’s a healthy mix of talent.

“I particularly enjoyed having Lenny Williams and Angela Winbush perform and give their testimonies,” said Mo’Nique.

In addition to mature soul music artists of the ’70s and ’80s like Chaka Khan and the SOS Band, her show also features young talent like T.I., Lil Wayne, Roscoe Dash, Souljaboy and Trina.

Meanwhile, old school hip-hop acts such as Biz Markie, Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick, Doug E. Fresh and Rob Base provide a transitional phase between old school R&B and today’s hip-hop.

Political and sports figures including Rev. Al Sharpton, Benjamin Chavis Muhammad and Aliquippa native Tony Dorsett have also graced Mo’Nique’s stage.

When questioned about the small number of Whites who have been guests on her show, she offers that her forum is a way to finally spotlight the large numbers of Blacks who have been without a national stage to present viewpoints and life’s stories in a talk show forum for nearly 20 years.

Mo’Nique is a native of Baltimore and a one-time Morgan State University student.

At 42, she has three sons and is married to Sidney Hicks, her show’s producer.

She says she chose Atlanta and its CNN headquarters, as her show’s hub, because “Atlanta says family, Atlanta says community, Atlanta says pride.

“Atlanta also says successful Black people and I’m proud to be a part of it all.”


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