Following Oscar-winning actress Mo’Nique’s essay on being “blackballed” in The Hollywood Reporter, Empire creator Lee Daniels spoke out about the comments on Wednesday when he appeared on CNN with Don Lemon.
The actress said in the essay her Oscar win should’ve granted her “more respect, choices, money,” but then she received a phone call from Lee Daniels claiming she’d been “blackballed.” Mo’Nique described how she’d been offered roles in Lee Daniels’ projects The Butler, Empire, and Richard Pryor’s biopic that all just “went away.”
Daniels initially said in a statement to THR, “her demands through Precious were not always in line with the campaign. This soured her relationship with the Hollywood community.”
During the Don Lemon interview, the director again spoke of the “unresponsible” demands Mo’Nique made during the Precious campaign, and how it was important for her to think of the producers of the film and the studio. But he believed she got in her own way.
“I love her. I’ve spoken with her. She’s brilliant and I like working with brilliant people,” Daniels said. “But sometimes artists get in their own way. I know I certainly do. I have my own demons that I get in front of myself.”
Don Lemon asked if she could change her current Hollywood status, and Daniels responded by saying she has to “play ball.”