‘Empire’ Co-Creator Disputes Mo’Nique’s Claim She Was Offered Taraji P. Henson’s Breakout Cookie Role

Danny Strong suggests the Oscar winner should check her facts

Getty Images

According to Mo’Nique, “Empire” creator Lee Daniels offered her the role of Cookie before Taraji P. Henson was hired on the Fox series, but co-creator Danny Strong says otherwise.

“Mr. Daniels offered me the part of Cookie, and I have the emails and the sides to go along with it, and what he said was, ‘I’m new to this TV thing. This is just a technicality… you have the role.’ Okay. I have the emails,” Mo’Nique told Access Hollywood, adding: “Well, four days have gone by because I didn’t receive a phone call or another email for the location of where I was supposed to go to do this screen test.”

That’s not the only project the Oscar-winning actress says her “Precious” director promised her. She claims she was also in talks with Daniels to play the character that Oprah Winfrey ultimately portrayed in the critically acclaimed 2013 civil rights drama “The Butler.”

“I really don’t know what happened in reference to ‘The Butler,’” Mo’Nique said. “Mr. Daniels and I had a conversation. I had the script, the email that goes along with it in reference to the character, read the script, loved it. Then I never heard from Mr. Daniels again, and the next I saw was that Oprah Winfrey is now playing the part.”

Strong, who also wrote and executive produced “The Butler,” took to Twitter last week to say the exact opposite.

Mo’Nique’s claims followed her reaction to Daniels’ assertion that she was “blackballed” from Hollywood after making “unreasonable demands” during the Oscar campaign for “Precious.”

“It wasn’t that I was blackballed like Mr. Daniels said,” Mo’Nique insisted in an interview with CNN last week. “The phone was ringing and the scripts were coming but the offers that were associated with them made me say ‘I can’t accept that.’”

In an exclusive interview with TheWrap published on Tuesday, the actress suggested that those “offers” weren’t particularly “fair,” either.

“When you win an Academy Award, what do you believe that the award is supposed to do? Should it elevate your career financially?” Mo’Nique asked rhetorically. “So, when we get offers that appear as if I just got off the Greyhound bus and just got to Hollywood and we say, ‘Well, can we get what’s fair?’ That’s gonna appear overly aggressive if they [studios and production companies] are not used to people saying, ‘Can you just give us what’s fair.’”

Despite her previous issues with Daniels, Mo’Nique told TheWrap she is proud of him and “Empire’s” success.

“I want the world to continue to support my brother Lee, my brother Terrence [Howard], Taraji [P. Henson] and that whole cast. They are breaking record numbers,” she said, before admitting that she has not seen the series.

“I have young babies and if it ain’t happening on Nickelodeon and if it ain’t happening with SpongeBob and all of them, I’m a little behind the times right now.”