Why Oscar-Winning Actress and Comedian, Mo’Nique, Is Suing Netflix
Mo’Nique broke the mold as a comedian when she won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the 2009 drama, Precious. Since then, the actress has been on a rollercoaster after falling out with director, Lee Daniels, who publicly claimed the actress was blackballed in Hollywood for being considered difficult to work with. Mo’Nique has been on a mission to change the perception about her but it hasn’t been easy.
She made a triumphant comeback after appearing in the 2016 holiday family comedy, Almost Christmas. Fans were excited to see her back on screen but it was short-lived thanks to a Netflix deal gone bad. Now, the actress is suing the streaming service company.
Mo’Nique calls for boycott of Netflix
In January 2019, Mo’Nique posted a call to action to her fans and colleagues on Instagram. She claimed that she was in talks with Netflix to produce a standup comedy special but ultimately, it fell flat. Around the same time that Mo’Nique was negotiating her deal, other comedians released projects through Netflix.
Salaries were leaked to the public regarding a few comedians Netflix specials. The Huffington Post reported that Amy Schumer was paid upwards of $13 million dollars in 2018. Just a year prior, it was reported by Business Insider that Dave Chappelle was paid $60 million for his comedy specials. Mo’Nique claimed that Netflix offered her a payment of $500,000 for her special. Knowing the salaries of her peers compared to her small offer was no laughing matter to the Oscar-winner.
In a passionate plea, Mo’Nique made her frustrations known. “I was offered a $500,000-deal last week to do a comedy special,” Mo’Nique said. “However Amy Schumer was offered $11 million, Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle — $20 million. Then Amy Schumer went and renegotiated two more million dollars because she said, ‘I shouldn’t get what the men are getting, they’re legends, however, I should get more,’ and Netflix agreed.”
Mo’Nique summed up Netflix’s refusal to increase her offer as a result of “gender bias” and “color bias” before asking fans to boycott the streaming service.
Mo’Nique details why she declined Netflix’s offer
Mo’Nique’s Instagram post was just the start of her campaign against pay inequality. After Mo’Nique told her side of the story, Rolling Out Magazine claimed that journalist, Jawn Murray, negated her version, which he denies. He did however speak out in opposition of Mo’Nique’s claims and like Daniels, attributed the actress’ struggles to her own deficits.
The Rolling Out article claimed that Netflix offered Mo’Nique $3 million and not the $500,000 as she claimed.
Mo’Nique addressed the alleged allegation by Murray directly in a follow-up Instagram post by showing a copy of the email communications between her team and Netflix. The contract mentions the $500,000 payout as well as other terms that Mo’Nique ultimately declined.
According to the terms outlined by Netflix, the streaming company would own the copyright of the special and control all exhibition rights, as well as all audio rights. For 12 months after the special premiered, Mo’Nique would not be allowed to tape or negotiate another comedy special with a competitor. At the close of the 12 months, Netflix would have dibs on her next comedy special and she’d only be able to accept another offer if Netflix passed first.
For Mo’Nique, the restrictions outlined by Netflix were unfair and not worth accepting.
Mo’Nique sues Netflix for pay discrimination
Mo’Nique is not letting her issues with Netflix go. On November 14, she shared on Instagram that she was pursuing legal action against Netflix for the contract she was presented last year. She wrote, in part, “I filed a pay discrimination lawsuit against Netflix today. I had a choice to make: I could accept what I felt was pay discrimination or I could stand up for those who came before me and those who will come after me.”
TMZ released details about Mo’Nique’s lawsuit. According to the legal documents, Mo’Nique claims that Netflix lacks diversity, which contributes to its discriminatory practices. She references a specific incident involving the company’s Chief Communications Officer who allegedly used the n-word in a meeting with 60 people in 2018. Mo’Nique was not present for that meeting. She also claims Netflix allowed actor Kevin Spacey to use the n-word while on the set of House of Cards without any consequence.
In regards to the pay discrimination portion, aside from mentioning other comedians who were offered more for their specials, Mo’Nique uses the streaming service’s hit show, The Crown, as an example. She says the actress who plays Queen Elizabeth II was paid $14,000 per episode less than the actor who played Prince Philip and only received an increase after the pay discrepancy was made public.
Netflix responded, telling TMZ, “We care deeply about inclusion, equity, and diversity and take any accusations of discrimination very seriously. We believe our opening offer to Mo’Nique was fair — which is why we will be fighting this lawsuit.”
A source with direct knowledge of the lawsuit told the media outlet that the executive Mo’Nique referenced for using the n-word during a meeting was fired.