Precious is the tragic and triumphant story of an obese and illiterate teenager pregnant for the second time by her rapist father and beaten down physically and mentally by her monstrous mother. When Precious gets the opportunity to attend a special high school program, a whole new world opens up. "When I first saw the movie Precious, I was so deeply moved, I immediately called up the director, Lee Daniels, and told him that it just split me wide open," Oprah says.
Comedian Mo'Nique takes a brutally dramatic turn as Precious' abusive mother, Mary Jones. Oprah says she had to call Mo'Nique after she saw her performance. "I remember exactly what you said when you called me," Mo'Nique says. "You said, 'Hey, girl, what you wearing to the Oscars®?'"
To play such a hateful character, Mo'Nique says she drew inspiration from her own childhood molestation. "I knew very well who that monster was. I knew Mary Jones," she says. "When he would say 'action,' that's the monster that I became."
Mo'Nique says she felt empowered—not traumatized—by reliving such a painful part of her past. "I got to get all of it out," she says. "I no longer want to be considered a victim of molestation. ... I want to be considered the victor."
To play a woman ugly in every way, Mo'Nique made sure she looked the part. She wore no makeup and even grew hair under her arms. "When I'm not in front of a camera, that's how I normally look," she jokes.
Mo'Nique says her appearance in the film gave the role authenticity. "I wanted to play that part as deep as I could to let people see the realness in it and the honesty in it and the reality of it and not try to dress it up," she says. "It was very in your face, and that's exactly who Mary Jones was."
The performance was so honest it earned a compliment from screen legend Sidney Poitier. "After seeing the screening, he said, 'There was not one insecure moment in your performance,'" she says. "I'm so thankful for that because we didn't want [there] to be any insecure moments. We didn't want anyone to look at that and say, 'Wow, they're nervous about doing that part.'"
Regardless of race or class, Mo'Nique says this is a movie everyone needs to experience. "It's so important because it's so honest," she says. "[This abuse is] happening every day. And we keep wanting to sweep it under the carpet and act like it doesn't exist."
The movie can also help end the cycle of abuse, Mo'Nique says. After a screening and a Q&A with the cast, Mo'Nique says she was approached by an Asian man. "He had tears in his eyes," she says. "He said, 'I am Mary Jones. I was Mary Jones to my brother and my sister,'" she says.
Mo'Nique says she hugged the sobbing man. "I said to him: 'Congratulations for being honest enough to say it. Now go get you some help,'" she says. "I'm proud and I'm excited for people to get to know these people onscreen because they may be looking at themselves."