Pay Mo'Nique, Netflix

Citing the high, high rates Netflix paid her peers and the low, low offer they gave her, the comedian speaks out

By D. Watkins

Editor at Large

Published January 22, 2018 1:28PM (EST)

Mo'Nique (AP/Willy Sanjuan)
Mo'Nique (AP/Willy Sanjuan)

As both the #MeToo and Time's Up movements are heating up in Hollywood, we are seeing more and more celebrities speaking out against what appears to be the systematic sexism and racism they encounter within the entertainment industry.

Last week, the fact that "Black-ish" star Tracee Ellis Ross makes significantly less than her male co-star, Anthony Anderson, grabbed headlines. Ross, a class act, ironed out the truths and mistruths about that story with a Twitter post that graciously pointed toward the overall issue of pay disparity, rather than making the controversy about her and her alone.

Now, Oscar-winning actress and veteran comic Mo'Nique is detailing what she claims is a case of another studio, this time Netflix, lowballing a woman of color.

After receiving what she feels was a stingy, disrespectful offers from Netflix for a possible comedy special on the streaming service for her and Wanda Sykes, respectively, Mo'Nique took to Instagram to air her grievances and thoughts through a video.

Mo'Nique noted that she had been offered $500,000 and Sykes $250,000, while Amy Schumer had negotiated $13 million for her show. "How is it that these two black women who have 50-plus years in the comedy game be offered $750,000 between the both of us and Amy Schumer get $13 million?"

Noting that she had nothing against Schumer getting that money, she again repeated the disparity, saying "make that make sense."



A post shared by Mo'nique (@therealmoworldwide) on

In a second post, the comedian said, "I am asking that you stand with me and boycott Netflix for gender bias and color bias," adding that, "I was offered a $500,000 deal last week to do a comedy special. However, Amy Schumer was offered $11 million, Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle $20 million — then Amy Schumer went back and renegotiated 2 more million dollars." 

According to Mo'Nique, Schumer argued during her renegotiations, "'I shouldn’t get what the men are getting, because they’re legends, but I should get more,'" and Netflix agreed. Mo'Nique added, "When we asked Netflix to explain the difference, why the money was so different, they said, 'Well, we believe that’s what Mo'Nique will bring. We said, 'What about my résumé?' They said, 'We don’t go off of résumés . . . then we asked them, 'What was it about Amy Schumer?' And they said, 'Well, she sold out Madison Square Garden twice and she had a big movie over the summer.'" Mo'Nique added, "Is that not Amy Schumer’s résumé?"   


A post shared by Mo'nique (@therealmoworldwide) on

Wanda Sykes quickly chimed in, tweeting a response about the poor offer she received from the streaming company.

Many on social media also had pointed thoughts, disagreeing with Mo’Nique and referencing her absence from comedy while failing to acknowledge that Dave Chappelle took a 12-year hiatus and still received a record offer. But this is all beside the point, to some extent.

In the end, Mo’Nique didn’t take shots at Schumer, Chappelle or any other comic. She just wants what she feels she deserves, and there's nothing wrong with that. That she felt compelled to bring up the disparity, and that no one else near the top of the chain saw what was wrong with it, is proof enough that, even though #MeToo and Time's Up is getting much deserved attention, the industry is still a boys club.

Honestly, if Mo’Nique was a man, we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation. Pay up, Netflix.

By D. Watkins

D. Watkins is an Editor at Large for Salon. He is also a writer on the HBO limited series "We Own This City" and a professor at the University of Baltimore. Watkins is the author of the award-winning, New York Times best-selling memoirs “The Beast Side: Living  (and Dying) While Black in America”, "The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir," "Where Tomorrows Aren't Promised: A Memoir of Survival and Hope" as well as "We Speak For Ourselves: How Woke Culture Prohibits Progress." His new books, "Black Boy Smile: A Memoir in Moments," and "The Wire: A Complete Visual History" are out now.

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