(Todd A. Smith)
The Will Smith slap has gotten enough media attention to last a lifetime.
Many media personalities, including yours truly, have talked about how wrong Smith was to slap Chris Rock and how well Rock responded during the violent confrontation.
But what the same media personalities, myself included, should talk about instead is how filmmaker and television producer Lee Daniels (“Empire”) has mended fences with friend and Academy Award-winning actress, Mo’Nique (“Precious”).
When Mo’Nique got into a spat with media moguls Daniels, Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey for not playing the Hollywood game, such as not doing enough promotional work for “Precious,” many Hollywood insiders labeled her difficult to work with.
Whether the aforementioned moguls blackballed her or not, Mo’Nique felt the ramifications of her fractured relationships with some of the biggest powerbrokers in Black Hollywood.
Television and movie roles stopped coming her way at the rate that one would expect for an Oscar winner.
During a 2015 interview, Mo’Nique said, “But I got a phone call from Lee Daniels…and he said to me, ‘Mo’Nique, you’ve been blackballed.’ I said, ‘Why?’ And he said, ‘Because you didn’t play the game.’”
When Mo’Nique asked what game her friend was speaking of, she said he did not give her an answer.
In a letter to The Hollywood Reporter, Daniels said, “Mo’Nique is a creative force to be reckoned with. Her demands through Precious were not always in line with the campaign. This soured her relationship with the Hollywood community.”
The so-called blackballing, the lack of opportunities that obviously came with it, and Mo’Nique’s outspokenness about it, caused many fans of her, Perry, Winfrey and Daniels to take sides in the beef to an extent.
However, time heals all wounds or at least it should.
Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson called out those media moguls over the last couple of weeks, vowing to put Mo’Nique back to work, possibly on one of his successful television dramas on Starz, causing Perry to respond by saying that he never told people not to work with the actress/comedienne.
But on April 1, Daniels proved how big of a person he is by apologizing on stage to Mo’Nique and announcing that she will take Octavia Spencer’s place in a Netflix movie called “Demon House” that he is currently working on.
Daniels said, “I am so sorry for hurting you in any way that I did. She was my best friend, my best friend. Y’all think that ‘Precious’ was just—that was God working, through both of us.”
He added, “And we’re gonna f***ing doing it again,” speaking in reference to Netflix’s “Demon House.”
Unfortunately, disputes happen, friendships go through bad seasons and careers have ups and downs.
Life is truly a roller coaster.
Furthermore, there is no way any celebrity or business can make everyone happy.
Therefore, beef is inevitable, especially if you are outspoken like many comedians are.
But the way Daniels is now handling his beef with Mo’Nique is exhibit A on how adults hash out their differences, no matter how deep the beef runs.
Real men admit their mistakes and are not afraid to even apologize publicly.
If the beef becomes public, the apology and reconciliation should be public as well.
Smith should follow suit.
The Instagram apology to Rock was necessary.
But a more public apology is even more necessary.
If Smith is ever able to return to the Academy Awards, that’s where the real apology should take place.
If not, it needs to happen on stage during one of Rock’s performances, if the comedian would allow him at one of his shows.
While many Black media personalities and social media users have said that Smith made Black men look bad for resorting to violence on such a big and integrated stage, I think the impact it has on younger Black males is more important.
How White people view us should be as important to Black people as how deaf and blind animals view us?
It simply should not matter at all.
But what should matter to us is how young Black males view conflict resolution.
In a world inundated with images of violence, from all races, young Black males need to see that disputes and disagreements are natural.
However, the natural way to handle verbal disputes is through conversation, not violent and physical confrontation.
While Smith has received justified ridicule for his ridiculous behavior at the 2022 Academy Awards, the brother is human and is entitled to one mistake in life.
At this moment in time, the R&B world is going crazy about “The Culture Tour,” which consists of R&B supergroups New Edition and Jodeci and legendary soul singer, Charlie Wilson.
New Edition has a well-documented history of having beefs, which has unfortunately consisted of physical confrontations and even some pistol play on stage.
The supergroup has had verbal disputes in the media, which has led to many of the groups’ breakups throughout the decades.
Nevertheless, the six members of New Edition have always been able to be men and come together to reunite, despite real life beef that has destroyed many similar groups and many regular brothers.
They have even used past beefs in their shows, such as debating why Bobby Brown left (or was fired from) the group back in 1985.
It is not totally necessary for Smith and Rock to take the route of Mo’Nique and Daniels, or New Edition by working with each other on a business project.
But it sure would be beautiful to see two brothers come together, admit their mistakes and move forward together.
Like her or not, as Jada Pinkett Smith said, it is time for healing.
And thankfully, Daniels and Mo’Nique are showing us the way.