LOS ANGELES (AP)—Mo’Nique became the fifth Black woman to win an acting Oscar, 70 years after Hattie McDaniel won the same honor for “Gone With the Wind”—the first Academy Award ever given to a Black performer.
MO’NIQUE with her Oscar
The 42-year-old standup comedian portrayed an abusive mother in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire.”
“I want to thank Miss Hattie McDaniel for enduring all she had to so that I would not have to,” Mo’Nique said in accepting the Oscar.
Mo’Nique, who has insisted on being considered a standup, not an actress, was asked backstage if she still feels that way.
“I am a standup comedian who won an Oscar,” she said, laughing. “Oh, baby, that tickled me.”
She noted that her outfit evoked McDaniel, who also wore a blue dress and a gardenia in her hair the night she received her award.
“For you Miss Hattie McDaniel,” she said. “I feel you all over me and it’s about time that the world feels you all over them.”
At the Golden Globes, Mo’Nique revealed hairy legs under her glamorous gown. Did she clean up for the Academy Awards?
“Of course not!” she said earlier on the red carpet, laughing again. “I didn’t shave my arms nor did I shave my legs. I think Oscar would really like this.”
She was asked backstage what would happen if more actresses didn’t shave their legs or worry about their size.
“They’d win Oscars,” the full-figured entertainer said.
In “Precious,” Mo’Nique’s character, Mary Jones, inflicts relentless physical and verbal abuse on her daughter, allowing the teen’s own father to sexually assault the girl, impregnating her twice. It was an eye-opener for audiences accustomed to seeing Mo’Nique in brazen, bawdy comic roles. She is chilling in presenting Mary’s heartlessness and brutality, revealing startling dramatic depths in scene after scene.
Mo’Nique, who hosts “The Mo’Nique Show” on BET, was the overwhelming favorite in the run-up to the awards show, having racked up supporting actress wins at the Golden Globes, Spirit Awards and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards, among others.
The only other Black women to win supporting actress Academy Awards were Jennifer Hudson for “Dreamgirls” (2006) and Whoopi Goldberg for “Ghost” (1990). Halle Berry is the only Black woman to win the best actress honor for “Monster’s Ball,” in 2001. Four Black men have won Oscars for Best Actor, and three for Best Supporting Actor.
The men to win Best Supporting Actor are Cuba Gooding Jr. in “Jerry Maguire,” Denzel Washington in “Glory” and Morgan Freeman in “Million Dollar Baby. ”
Best Actor winners are Sidney Poitier in “Lilies of the Field,” Denzel Washington in “Training Day,” Jamie Foxx in “Ray” and Forest Whitaker in “The Last King of Scottland.”
There have only been eight women nominated over the years. Dorothy Dandridge was the first in 1954 for “Carmen Jones,” with McDaniel being the first Black nominated for anything. She won in 1939 for “Gone With The Wind.”
The next Black to be nominated wasn’t until 1948 when singer, actress Ethel Waters was nominated for “Pinky.” Poitier was the first male nominated for “The Defiant Ones” in 1958 and the first to win a Best Actor Oscar in 1963 for “Lillies of the Field.” Washington and Freeman are the most nominated Blacks with five each.
(Ulish Carter contributed to this story.)