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Mo Nique Biography

Monique Imes known professionally as Mo'Nique is an American actress, comedienne, and talk show host.

Mo'Nique was born Monique Imes in Woodlawn, Baltimore County, Maryland. She is the youngest of four children born to Steven Imes, Jr., a drug counselor and Alice Imes, an engineer. Mo'Nique graduated from Milford Mill High School in Baltimore County and attended Morgan State University.

Before obtaining success in her chosen career, Mo'Nique worked as a phone sex operator. She was in charge of monitoring the phone call conversations. She got her start in comedy at the downtown Baltimore Comedy Factory Outlet when her brother Steve dared her to perform at an open mic night.

Television roles
She is best known for the role of Nicole "Nikki" Parker on the UPN television series The Parkers. The show ran from 1999 to 2004. Mo'Nique was subsequently featured on a number of leading stand-up venues, including stints on Showtime at the Apollo, Russell Simmons' Def Comedy Jam, and Thank God You're Here.

She was also named hostess of Showtime at the Apollo, and is currently the hostess and executive producer of Mo'Nique's Fat Chance, a beauty pageant for plus-sized women, on the Oxygen cable network. She hosted the first season of Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School on VH1, where she crowned Saaphyri as the winner.

Her 2007 documentary I Coulda Been Your Cellmate!, focuses on women who are incarcerated. Mo'Nique touches on the common factors that bring many women into the penal system while interviewing women one-on-one. In the interviews, she does not shy away from the facts of what happened or excuse the actions of the inmates but she attempts to help the women see the worth they still hold. The documentary was in conjunction with the filming of a comedy special at the Ohio Reformatory for Women also known as The Farm. In 2007, she had a guest starring role on the hit television series, Ugly Betty as L'Amanda, Mode's weekend security guard.

Mo'Nique stars in her own late-night talk show called The Mo'Nique Show. Taped in Atlanta, the show premiered October 5, 2009 on BET.

Film and video career
Mo'Nique has had a number of supporting roles in film. She appears in the 2008 comedy film, Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins with Martin Lawrence. She has had roles in Beerfest, 3 Strikes, Two Can Play That Game, Half Past Dead, and Garfield: The Movie, in which she voiced a CGI character but her role was cut from the movie. She also appeared in Soul Plane.

In 2005, Mo'Nique played a significant role in the Tony Scott bounty hunter thriller Domino, co-starring Keira Knightley and Mickey Rourke. In 2006, Mo'Nique was cast as the lead in Phat Girlz, a comedy about an aspiring plus size fashion designer struggling to find love and acceptance. The film was met with lukewarm response from critics and fans. It did earn back its $3 million production cost in its first weekend of release.

She was featured in soul singer Anthony Hamilton's video "Sista Big Bones", the second single from his Ain't Nobody Worryin' album. She plays the role of a beautiful plus sized woman whom Anthony secretly admires because she has always loved herself.

Mo'Nique hosted the 2003 and 2004 BET Awards and appeared as the host again for the 2007 BET Awards. She received positive responses in July 2004 with her opening performance of Beyoncé's famous "Crazy in Love" dance; as well as in 2007 by performing her "Dé Jà Vu".

Mo'Nique claimed on the January 28, 2008 Oprah Winfrey Show that Martin Lawrence gave her invaluable advice about show business: "He pulled me to the side and he said, 'Listen, don't ever let them tell you what you can't have.' Since that day, I've made some of the best deals I've ever made in my career because it keeps ringing in my head. ... It will stay with me forever."

Mo'Nique's first play was Eve Ensler's Obie Award-winning production of The Vagina Monologues, in March 2002. Mo'Nique, along with Ella Joyce (Roc); Wendy Raquel Robinson (The Steve Harvey Show & The Game (U.S. TV series)) and Vanessa Bell Calloway (What's Love Got to Do with It), were the first all black celebrity cast to perform The Vagina Monologues. Executive produced by YYP & Associates, LLC, the show was produced and directed by noted theater producer/director, Yetta Young.

Books and radio
Mo'Nique is the author of the best-selling book Skinny Women Are Evil: Notes of a Big Girl in a Small-Minded World. She also released a 2006 cookbook called Skinny Cooks Can't Be Trusted.

Mo'nique was part of the Washington DC WHUR radio show with George Wilborn.

In 2006 she occasionally substituted for afternoon personality Michael Baisden when his contract with ABC Radio was in the process of getting renewed.

In 2008, Radio One inked a deal for her to get her own radio show, Mo'Nique In the Afternoon (or The Mo'Nique Show) which premiered on several Radio One-owned Urban Adult Contemporary-formatted R&B/soul radio stations in July 2008. The show lasted until March 18, 2009 when Mo'Nique decided leave to "further her career in television, film, and comedy."

Personal life
Mo'Nique was briefly engaged to accountant Marvin Dawson.

Prior to her current marriage, Mo'Nique has been married and divorced twice. She has twin sons Jonathan and David, and another son, Shalon. She and her husband, Sidney Hicks, have what she calls an open marriage, as she mentioned in a profile in The New York Times:

    "We have an agreement that we'll always be honest, and if sex happens with another person, that's not a deal breaker for us, that's not something where we'll have to say, 'Oh God, we've got to go to divorce court because you cheated on me.' Because we don't cheat".

She later clarified her comments on The Oprah Winfrey Show that aired January 28, 2008. She told Winfrey that in her prior marriages, she was constantly searching for "that extra oomph". Mo'Nique explained, "When I said I had an open marriage, people automatically jumped to sex. They automatically went there. But I've been best friends with my husband since we were 14 years old. When we say open, we're very honest. There are no secrets. Oftentimes you have people that are married, but they're strangers, and we refuse to be those people".

She concluded, "I've had to sneak and I've had to lie, and I don't want to do that any more. But my husband is so awesome and so fine and so—oh, girl....No other man can compare".
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