“Most of us die before our turn comes. You gotta ask for it right now.”

Out of everything Woodlawn native Mo’Nique said in her immensely quotable podcast interview with former Baltimore Raven Shannon Sharpe, this quote burrowed the furthest into my brain and has refused to budge, even a week later. For most women, particularly Black ones, that sentence could be the basis for an entire business school course.

For nearly three hours, Mo, as the comedian is nicknamed, challenged Sharpe and his “Club Shay Shay” viewers on their assumptions about what it means to be grateful, to be difficult and to get what you’re worth, particularly for a self-proclaimed “little fat Black girl from Baltimore, Maryland.”

The crux of the Oscar-winning actress and comedian’s message is that it’s worth speaking up and naming names, even the big ones, so that other Black women now and in the future feel that they can speak up, too — even if it costs them everything. And for a while, for Mo, it seems to have.

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No matter how you feel about her, it’s absolutely true that her Academy Award-winning role in 2009′s “Precious” failed to garner the success that usually follows such a win, not only because she refused to promote the movie without being paid for it, but because she openly said director Lee Daniels and co-executive producers Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry pressured her to do so. “‘These are our heroes,’” Mo said people told her. “‘How could you say their names out loud?’”

For years, Mo has said plainly, as she did with Sharpe, that Perry retaliated by spreading the rumor that she was hard to work with, and eventually other former allies like Winfrey and Kevin Hart abandoned her. Watching her tell this story, and seeing the obvious pain it’s caused her, is hard to watch — yet sadly easy to believe.

We all know about the “angry Black woman” trope, right? I wrote last year about how Baltimore basketball star Angel Reese and others, myself included, have been labeled aggressive harpies with bad attitudes for behavior that would be referred to as spunky or spirited in others. It happens when we ask for raises, or consideration for our work. Those stereotypes have made it easier for people to buy Perry’s allegations about Mo’Nique because people don’t need that much nudging to believe it.

The discussion reminded me of the mountainous climb that Black women often have to endure to even get credit for what we’ve already accomplished. Just last week, a story from The Daily Beast said singer Tracy Chapman made more than $500,000 in residuals “off the back of [Luke] Combs’ success” from the his cover of her single “Fast Car.” The phrasing suggested that Chapman was leeching off this young man when she was actually just getting the money she was owed for the song she wrote and performed in the 1980s.

Combs wasn’t doing Chapman a favor. That’s just how royalties work. The Daily Beast has since deleted the sentence from the story, but it’s hard to ignore the subconscious assumption that Black women are asking for too much, even when it’s ours. One of the more fascinating lessons Mo shared with Sharpe was a cautionary tale about knowing what’s in your contract. That’s the kind of thing that good representatives keep you informed about, and not having that knowledge cost her millions she’s owed from her former hit sitcom “The Parkers.” She won’t let that happen again.

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Some may have tuned into “Club Shay Shay” expecting a wild, reckless rant, but what they got was a relatively subdued and clear-eyed recitation of receipts. That included an apparently legally tapped phone conversation with Perry in which he admits he lied about her being difficult, which Sharpe confirmed he’d heard. (There’s a lot of back and forth online about who the tape makes sound worse, Perry or Mo’Nique.) The proof then took a very Baltimore turn when Mo’Nique mentioned that Winfrey had once stood up for herself and her own paycheck when she asked to be paid on the same level as her “People Are Talking” co-host Richard Sher on WJZ. When she was turned down, she left.

But what’s good enough for Winfrey, who, as Mo pointed out was, at the time, also a fat Black girl who competed with her for roles, hasn’t translated to the comedian and others, she thinks. I admit Winfrey has been an idol of mine, journalistically and otherwise, since I watched her and Sher on the black-and-white TV in our kitchen. But it was painful to watch Mo’Nique relay her feelings of betrayal on Sharpe’s podcast of when Winfrey told Mo’Nique the brother who molested her would be on Winfrey’s show, and didn’t mention Mo’s mother and several other family members would be there, too.

Winfrey was also a producer of the musical film version of “The Color Purple,” released in December and featuring the divine Taraji P. Henson as heavy-drinking diva Shug Avery. Henson spent much of the subsequent press tour painfully recounting being financially and professionally undervalued throughout her career, including by those who worked on the film she was promoting. On “Club Shay Shay,” Mo’Nique pointed out subsequent appearances in which it looked as if Winfrey was distancing herself from Henson.

Mo’Nique recalled a conversation she’d had with Henson 10 years prior, when the comedian was on her own truth-telling tour. Wasn’t it better, the “Empire” star asked, to just keep working without the risk of alienating the people that sign the checks, and wait our turn? Mo’Nique’s response to Henson — that “most of us die before our turn comes” — speaks to the Oscar winner’s refusal to accept that Black women, who are underpaid in pretty much every profession, grin and bear it for a “maybe.”

That Henson, whom Mo describes as “broken” during those press tour confessions, is being given more grace than Mo’Nique was for similar accusations, might be, as she put it, proof that “we’re so caught up in the messenger, we overlook the message.” In other words, a conventionally attractive Black woman’s words might hit differently than those from her heavier counterpart, although it still comes out to us getting screwed.

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I very seldom call famous people brave, because sometimes that just refers to them leaving the house without makeup to go get milk. But Mo’Nique — whose interview face was immaculate, by the way — fits the bill for me in this case because she knows what she’s up against and she’s saying it anyway. No more, she said, should we accept “that we should be grateful we got invited to the party” when we’ve paid dearly to get on the list.

Toward the end of the interview, Sharpe extended an on-air invitation to Perry and Winfrey to come on “Club Shay Shay” and talk things out with Mo’Nique (Daniels has previously publicly apologized). Mo’s willingness to consider such a thing, particularly with Winfrey, had me literally applauding. “She’s still our sister,” she said of the media mogul. “She’s got to come back across the street. We got the light on.”

I don’t know if Winfrey will knock on that door, but if she did, it might strengthen the argument that Mo’Nique, Henson and all of us are making when demand our fair share now. We’re tired of waiting. If that makes us seem difficult, so be it.

Leslie Gray Streeter is a columnist excited about telling Baltimore stories — about us and the things that we care about, that touch us, that tickle us and that make us tick, from parenting to pop culture to the perfect crab cake. She is especially psyched about discussions that we don't usually have. Open mind and a sense of humor required.

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