The career of funny girl Mo’Nique began in her early twenties, when she took to the improv comedy stage on a dare from her brother. The impulsive decision met with success, and she began to pursue a career in standup comedy, eventually performing on such renowned shows as Def Comedy Jam, Showtime at the Apollo, and Snaps.
Mo’Nique’s big break came in 1999, when she landed her own sitcom, starring on UPN’s The Parkers as a single mom attending college alongside her daughter. She was 32 years old, and the days when she was working at the phone company in her hometown of Baltimore were about to seem very far away. The critical and commercial success of The Parkers led to a slew of awards and movie roles, including Two Can Play That Game, Baby Boy, Half Past Dead, Shadowboxer, Domino, and Soul Plane.
Despite having her pick of scripted roles, Mo’Nique was still itching to get back to her standup roots. She joined Adele Givens, Sommore, and Laura Hayes for a hugely successful comedy tour called The Queens of Comedy, which was captured on film and released by Paramount Home Entertainment and the Showtime network in 2002.
Never shying away from her status as a full-figured woman, Mo’Nique has used her notoriety and her famously sarcastic wit in order to advocate for voluptuous women everywhere. Her funny and empowering book Skinny Women Are Evil became a best-seller in 2003, and she soon afterward began working with the Oxygen network on a beauty pageant for full-figured women called F.A.T. Chance — an acronym for “fabulous and thick.” She also starred in the movie Phat Girlz in 2006, playing a struggling fashion designer looking for love and success in a world of “hot bodies.” Later that same year, the large-and-in-charge star could be seen onscreen with the Broken Lizard comedy troupe in the alcohol-chugging chuckler Beerfest. In 2009, she began hosting her own talk show on BET, The Mo’Nique Show.
It was Mo’Nique’s harrowing turn as an abusive mother in Precious, however, that made people aware of the full range of her talents. Her blistering portrayal won her the Best Supporting Actress award from a great many critics groups, the Screen Actors Guild, and the Hollywood Foreign Press. She went on to win the Oscar in that category as well.