Mo’Nique inks deal with Endemol Shine North America to develop unscripted TV projects

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Mo’Nique [Courtesy photo]

Endemol Shine North America is teaming with Academy Award-winning actor, producer, comedian and author Mo’Nique to develop unscripted TV projects.

Endemol Shine North America, a Banijay Company, and Hicks Media, Mo’Nique and her manager/husband Sidney Hicks’ production label, are developing unscripted series for Mo’Nique to both host and star in, as well as to develop and produce as projects for other performers.

The deal reunites Cris Abrego – chairman of the Americas, Banijay and president and CEO of Endemol Shine Holdings – with Mo’Nique, whom he originally cast in the unscripted hit series “Charm School” 15 years ago for VH1.

Abrego, who originally co-founded 51 Minds, the production company behind the hit series, now oversees eight different production studios in the U.S. and across Latin America for Banijay, including Los Angeles-based Endemol Shine North America.

“It is an honor for Hicks Media Inc. to be forming a partnership with such a creative force in the industry as Endemol Shine, and it is an exciting opportunity to have an ally with the fearlessness, integrity and vision of its CEO, Cris Abrego,” said Mo’Nique and Hicks in a statement.

The new partnership with Mo’Nique and Hicks was solidified as a result of a call Abrego made to the duo during the pandemic inquiring about potential unscripted collaborations, according to a news release.

Mo’Nique helped deliver record ratings to VH1 with “Charm School,” but it was a message she delivered during production that really caught Abrego’s attention, he said in a statement.

“I’ll never forget my first time working with her on ‘Charm School,’ where she made it very clear that there was a lack of diverse faces behind the camera and that things needed to change,” Abrego said. “That was 15 years ago, and Mo’Nique has been a champion of equality and representation in our industry ever since.”

Abrego added, “Mo’Nique is an icon in every sense of the word, and I can’t think of anyone who is more relevant and whose authentic voice should be heard right now more than hers. Our team at Endemol Shine is thrilled to be working with her and excited by the top names that both she and Sidney are already bringing in to collaborate with.”

Mo’Nique has captivated audiences across stand-up comedy, television, film and literature. Her portrayal of Mary Jones, a mentally disturbed and abusive mother in the film “Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire,” landed her an Academy Award, the Special Jury Prize for Acting at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, as well as Golden Globe, SAG, Critics’ Choice, BAFTA and NAACP Image Awards for Best Supporting Actress, amongst others.

She starred in the hit sitcom “The Parkers,” wrote the New York Times best-selling book “Skinny Women Are Evil” and headlined “The Queens of Comedy” tour and film. Mo’Nique also received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Ma Rainey in HBO’s “Bessie” in 2015.

In 2019, she made history by becoming the first African American female comedian to have a residence in Las Vegas at the SLS Hotel. Plus, she recently hosted and served as executive producer with Hicks on the Showtime special, “Mo’Nique & Friends: Live From Atlanta.”

Mo’Nique’s show biz career began more than 30 years ago, after her brother dared her to take the stage at a local comedy club in Baltimore, Maryland. After receiving a standing ovation, she quickly found herself performing on “Showtime at the Apollo,” on HBO’s “Def Comedy Jam,” at The Montreal Comedy Festival and more. A single mom at the time, Mo’Nique quit her day job at the local phone company and dove full-time into an entertainment career.

In 1999, Mo’Nique’s career took a quantum leap after she landed the starring role on “The Parkers,” UPN’s hit television series about a single mom who attends college with her daughter. The family sitcom earned Mo’Nique numerous accolades, including four NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Actress in a comedy series in 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2005. Mo’Nique is the first and only Black female comedian in TV history to star in a sitcom that reached more than 100 episodes.

In 2002, Mo’Nique was named the first female host of NBC’s nationally televised program, “Showtime at the Apollo,” a role she had for three consecutive seasons. “The Mo’Nique Show” launched in 2008 and was both a nationally syndicated radio show and into a late-night talk show that aired weeknights on BET.

Her additional film credits include “Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins,” “Farce of the Penguins,” “Beerfest,” “Shadowboxer,” “Phat Girlz,” “Domino,” “Soul Plane,” “Hair Show,” “Three Strikes,” “Baby Boy” and “Two Can Play That Game,” which earned her an NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture. She also co-starred in the Showtime tele-film “Good Fences,” opposite Whoopi Goldberg.

Mo’Nique has gone on to executive produce with Hicks, two independent films, the award-winning cult classic “Blackbird” and “Interwoven.”

She shared her personal perspectives, philosophies and frustrations through her New York Times best-selling book “Skinny Women Are Evil” in 2003 and followed up three years later with “Skinny Cooks Can’t Be Trusted.” In 2008, Mo’Nique published fictional teen novel “Beacon Hills High.”

In 2005, “F.A.T. Chance” was created, produced and hosted by Mo’Nique as an original program for the Oxygen network. Not only was the broadcast America’s first full-figured reality beauty pageant, but it was also the highest-rated show in the history of the network at the time. In 2006, the show earned an NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Variety Special.

Her relationship with Oxygen continued in 2006, when she hosted a documentary on female incarceration titled, “Mo’Nique: Behind Bars at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, Ohio.” While there, she also taped her groundbreaking stand-up comedy special, “I Coulda Been Your Cellmate” for Showtime.

-BAM

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