Jada Pinkett Smith on Mo'Nique's Netflix Boycott: She's Shining Light on the Truth
Mo'Nique claims gender and racial bias afflict the company's contract negotiations and both Pinkett Smith and Wanda Sykes have come to her defense.
Academy Award-winning actress and comedian Mo'Nique continues to call for a Netflix boycott after she says executives offered her only $500,000 for a comedy special compared to the $13 million comedian Amy Schumer was paid last year. Mo'Nique said that accepting the offer would set a precedent for a pay gap when it comes to Black women.
"If I accept that, what does the Black female comedian have coming?" Mo'Nique, 50, said in an interview.
This week's addition of Rodolphe Belmer to Netflix's all-white board of directors brings the total number of directors to 10 — seven men and three women. Reed Hastings is the CEO and co-founder of the video streaming platform. He also serves on the board.
Actress Jada Pinkett Smith posted a message Tuesday on Twitter in support of Mo'Nique. Pinkett Smith argues that even if one doesn't agree with the comedian's boycott, the racial and gender pay gap she speaks of can't be denied:
You don't have to like Mo'Nique's approach. You don't have to agree with her boycott but don't allow all of that to make you blind to the fact that non-white women and impoverished white women are underpaid, underrepresented and undervalued EVERYWHERE by EVERYONE.
— Jada Pinkett Smith (@jadapsmith) January 23, 2018
As a community, we should be supporting the light she is shining on this truth.
— Jada Pinkett Smith (@jadapsmith) January 23, 2018
Comedian Wanda Sykes posted a tweet on Sunday thanking Mo'Nique for coming forward with her claims. Sykes said Netflix offered her less than $250,000 to do a comedy special:
— Official Wanda Sykes (@iamwandasykes) January 21, 2018
The other home Sykes found is Epix, a premium cable and satellite television network.
Mo'Nique replied to Sykes' tweet in the following Instagram video:
"But how is it that when it comes to these two Black female comedians that are still at the top of their game after 50-plus years being in this business be offered $750,000 collectively?" she said. "Make that make sense."
Mo'Nique's campaign against Netflix started on Friday when she took to Instagram to get support from her fans.
"I'm asking that you stand with me to boycott Netflix for gender bias and color bias," she said.
"I was offered a $500,000 deal last week to do a comedy special. However, Amy Schumer was offered 11 million dollars, Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle 20 million dollars. Then Amy Schumer went back and renegotiated for [2 million dollars more] because she said 'I shouldn't get what the men are getting [because] they're legends, however I should get more,' and Netflix agreed."
Mo'Nique said that she and her husband, Sidney Hicks, who is also her manager, asked Netflix execs, "What about my résumé?" to which she said they responded, "We don't go off of résumés."
The couple then inquired about Schumer's payment.
"They said, 'Well, she sold out Madison Square Garden twice, and she had a big movie over the summer,'" Mo'Nique said.
"Is that not a résumé?" she questioned.
Last year, Schumer, 36, renegotiated her salary for a Netflix comedy special, "The Leather Special."
"When Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle made headlines for commanding eye-popping deals for $20 million per special, Schumer's team went back to Netflix and flatly asked for more money," Variety reported in August. "According to a source, Schumer was initially paid about $11 million for her special. She received significantly more compensation after she raised the question of fairness relative to the Rock and Chappelle deals."
In regard to Mo'Nique's claims, Netflix said in a statement that it "does not comment on contract negotiations."
On Friday, she talked about her call for a boycott on the radio show, "Sway In The Morning."
"In 2017, Amy Schumer did a film called 'Snatched.' That film made $45 million domestically," Mo'Nique said. "In 2016, I did a film called 'Almost Christmas.' That film made $42 million domestically. Amy Schumer's budget for 'Snatched' was $42 million … 'Almost Christmas'' budget was $17 million … Could somebody please make it make sense?"
The show "allows me to reshape what it is to be a fully recognized Black woman on TV," Ross wrote.
She also explained why she didn't take Netflix's offer.
"I couldn't accept that low offer, because if I did … I couldn't sleep at night," the comedian said. "I say this humbly: I am the most decorated comedian alive.
"But if I accepted $500,000, what does Tiffany Haddish have coming? If I accept that, what does the Black female comedian have coming? Because what they'll say is, 'Mo'Nique accepted this and she's got that.' So what do they have coming?"
In 2010, Mo'Nique won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Lee Daniel's "Precious." Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry were executive producers and Lionsgate distributed the film. The actress hasn't had any major film roles since her win. She said in 2015 that Daniels told her she was "blackballed," "Because you didn't play the game."
On "Sway in the Morning," she again slammed Daniels, along with Winfrey, Perry and Lionsgate, who she said blacklisted her for not accepting less than what she believe she's worth.
Along with support, Mo'Nique has also received criticism on social media and by other celebrities. Comedian Tony Rock, the brother of Chris Rock, said she is showing poor business etiquette in her approach.
"First of all, it's poor etiquette, it's poor comedy etiquette, it's poor people etiquette to count someone else's money," he told TMZ on Sunday. "Don't worry what everybody else's checks say. You get your weight up, you get your check to say what you want your check to say."
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Lynching Memorial and Museum Opening Highlights America's Racist Past, Parallels Today's Killings of African Americans
"We're dealing with police violence. We deal with these huge disparities in our criminal justice system. You know, if everything was wonderful you could ask the question, 'Why would you talk about the difficult past?' But everything is not wonderful."
Hundreds of people lined up in the rain to experience a long overdue piece of American history and honor the lives lost to lynching at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and the Legacy Museum in Montgomery Alabama on Thursday.
The Equal Justice Initiative, sponsor of this project, has documented more than 4,000 "racial terror" lynchings in the United States between 1877 and 1950.
The first memorial honoring the victims includes sculptures and art depicting the terror Blacks faced; 800 six-foot steel, engraved monuments to symbolize the victims; writings and words of Toni Morrison and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and a final artwork by Hank Willis Thomas capturing the modern-day racial bias and violence embedded in the criminal justice system and law enforcement.
Among memorial visitors were civil right activist Rev. Jesse Jackson and film director Ava Duvernay. According to the Chicago Tribune, Jackson said it would help dispel the American silence on lynchings, highlighting that whites wouldn't talk about it because of shame and Blacks wouldn't talk about it because of fear. The "60 Minutes Overtime" on the memorial just three weeks earlier was reported by Oprah Winfrey, who stated during her viewing of the slavery sculpture, "This is searingly powerful." Duvernay, quoted by the Chicago Tribune, said: "This place has scratched a scab."
The Montgomery Downtown business association's President, Clay McInnis, who is white, offered his thoughts to NPR in reference to his own family connection to the history that included a grandfather who supported segregation and a friend who dismantled it. "How do you reconcile that on the third generation?" he asked. "You have conversations about it."
A place to start: The Montgomery Advertiser, the local newspaper, apologized for its racist history of coverage between the 1870s and 1950s by publishing the names of over 300 lynching victims on Thursday, the same day as the memorial opening. "Our Shame: the sins of our past laid bare for all to see. We were wrong," the paper wrote.
The innumerable killings of unarmed Black men and the robbing of Black families of fathers, mothers, and children today not only strongly resemble the history of lynchings, but also bring up the discomfort and visceral reactions that many have not reckoned with.
Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and the man who spearheaded this project, told NPR: "There's a lot of conflict. There's a lot of tension. We're dealing with police violence. We deal with these huge disparities in our criminal justice system. You know, if everything was wonderful you could ask the question, 'Why would you talk about the difficult past?' But everything is not wonderful."
WFSA, a local news station, interviewed a white man who had gone to see the Legacy Museum downtown, also part of the EJI project, located at the place of a former slave warehouse. He talked about how he was overwhelmed by the experience and that "Slavery is alive in a new way today."
Reactions on social media were reflective of the memorial's power and the work that is continuing toward progress.
If you sincerely believe in justice and dignity for all, make the pilgrimage to Montgomery, Alabama to experience the lynching memorial and legacy museum established today by Bryan Stevenson and his stellar team at #EJI. It will take your breath away, then breathe in new life. pic.twitter.com/hPio0BNiwD
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) April 26, 2018
I was so moved by #equaljusticeinitiative in #montgomery #alabama Congratulations to eji_org… https://t.co/4SdSl01xrS
— Meta Golding (@metagolding) April 26, 2018
Love that @ava pointed out that these same folks putting together this museum are the same folks doing legal work and 'lawyering'. #equaljusticeinitiative
— Zee_like_zorro (@Zjlord) April 26, 2018
During a launch event, the Peace and Justice Summit, Marian Wright Edelman, activist and founder of the Children's Defense Fund, urged the audience to continue their activism beyond the day's events on issues like ending child poverty and gun violence, according to the Chicago Tribune: "Don't come here and celebrate the museum ... when we're letting things happen on an even greater scale."
Perhaps the reason to honor and witness the horrific experiences of our ancestors is to seal in our minds the unacceptable killings of Blacks today, and the work we ALL have to do now to stop repeating the past.
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