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Mo'Nique Says Oprah 'Betrayed' Her With Show About Her Traumatic Childhood

Mo’Nique did not hold back while reflecting on her yearslong beef with Oprah Winfrey.

On Wednesday’s episode of Shannon Sharpe’s Club Shay Shay” podcast, the “Parkers” alum opened up about the agonizing experience of finding out the former talk show host had withheld information from her in order to exploit her trauma for ratings.

In 2010, Winfrey aired an interview on “The Oprah Winfrey” show with Mo’Nique’s estranged family. The conversation centered on how her brother, Gerald Imes, sexually assaulted Mo’Nique routinely as a child.

Although Mo’Nique says that she signed off on her brother going on the show, she would have never consented to her entire family being involved in the on-air conversation.

HuffPost has reached out to representatives for Winfrey for comment on Mo’Nique’s allegations, but did not receive an immediate response.

Mo’Nique admitted that she understands why Oprah Winfrey made the move to capitalize on her recent Oscar shine and tragic backstory, but she felt Winfrey “betrayed” her.
Mo’Nique admitted that she understands why Oprah Winfrey made the move to capitalize on her recent Oscar shine and tragic backstory, but she felt Winfrey “betrayed” her.

Mo’Nique admitted that she understands why Oprah Winfrey made the move to capitalize on her recent Oscar shine and tragic backstory, but she felt Winfrey “betrayed” her.

The incident occurred shortly after Mo’Nique won her Oscar for best supporting actress in 2009’s “Precious” — a film Winfrey co-executive produced. Mo’Nique told Sharpe on Wednesday that Winfrey had reached out to her before filming to ask her if it was OK for her to interview her brother on her popular talk show. 

“When Oprah Winfrey called me up, and she said … ‘Your brother wants to come on the show, and he wants to apologize to you for molesting you, and he wants to tell people how to look out for predators,’” Mo’Nique recalls nearly 58 minutes into the episode. Mo’Nique said she told Winfrey she “didn’t want anything to do” with her brother or the interview, but she was fine with him appearing on the show. 

“I said, ‘Sis, don’t scratch [the interview] because he could be a different person, and I don’t want to get in the way if that cat is a different person, I just don’t want no parts of it,’” Mo’Nique recalls telling Winfrey. 

The “Bessie” star said she initially appreciated Winfrey asking for her blessing. But when Mo’Nique noticed commercials promoting the interview also included her parents and her other brother — who was once her manager and “knew the fear that I had of the brother that was onstage” — she felt deceived. 

“We never talked about my mother being there,” Mo’Nique explained. “Imagine … [you see your family on a show] and they’re talking about someone who violated you, and that woman didn’t tell you that they were going to be there, how would you feel?”

Mo’Nique admitted that she understands why Winfrey made the move to capitalize on her recent Oscar shine and tragic backstory, but she felt Winfrey “betrayed me.” 

“Had Oprah Winfrey said, ‘I’m [going to] have your mama [on the show],’ I would have said, ’Shut that shit down,” Mo’Nique said. 

Mo'Nique shows off her Oscar for the Best Supporting Actress award for
Mo'Nique shows off her Oscar for the Best Supporting Actress award for

Mo'Nique shows off her Oscar for the Best Supporting Actress award for "Precious” in 2010.

Mo’Nique also claimed on the podcast that her family had actually approached Barbara Walters first about doing an interview, but the journalist told Mo’Nique that she had turned them down.

“‘Mo’Nique, I told your family I can’t do that to you, I wouldn’t do that to you,’” the comedian recalls Walters telling her. “‘You just won that award, why would I do that to you?’”

Last year, Mo’Nique explained to The Hollywood Reporter why she didn’t want her mom involved in the interview.

“I see the show, and I can tell that my mother is trying to make a dollar,” Mo’Nique. “I know my family.” 

Mo’Nique told Sharpe that not only was she uncomfortable by her mom’s behavior on the show, but she was in an odd position of having to defend her to naysayers. 

“I would be in the store, and I would have elderly women coming up to me, and they would say, ‘Your mama ain’t shit.’ … But still it’s my mother! … I’m having to defend something. I don’t need nobody seeing my mama being greedy.”

Mo’Nique added to THR last year that she tried to contact Winfrey after the interview aired, but received radio silence. She said she finally confronted Winfrey at a party in 2014.

According to the comedian, Winfrey said her brother showed up to the interview with the other family members in tow — which Mo’Nique suspects was a lie. Mo’Nique said Winfrey also offered her a lackluster apology that was along the lines of “something like, ‘If I’ve done anything to offend you, I apologize.’”

Mo’Nique maintained to THR that this apology wasn’t enough, and “still demands and expects” a public apology from Winfrey.

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