Monifah on being black, gay and an R&B Diva

AE: They see what they want to see for sure. When you say “your community,” were you talking about R&B, black artists? Were you saying you were religious? Which community are you talking about?
I was saying the LGBTQ community, because I have a large following. I’m a singer and it is what it is. I have multitudes of people that I care about and we’re part of this community. We’re part of this community of humanity. But this is a sub community, because it’s not “normal” so there has to be an LGBT community. You understand what I’m saying?

AE: I often think it’d be really cool if every single person that was gay would do like “Hands Across America.” Like everybody would come out at the same time and minds would be blown!
Do you know how many people would fall on the floor? I mean, first of fall, that’s way too deep to get into… Like I said, there’s a lot of self-loathing and self-conflicted people and I think that it’s based out of fear and fear because of the social climate. People are unforgiving and people are mean and hateful and are not moving in love these days. It’s really hard, these days, to find that. And I get it. But you gotta start somewhere, right? Somebody has to do something somewhere. It always starts with one person. It starts with a few people.

AE: And I really commend you because one of the reasons we’re so self-hating is we’re taught that we’re wrong. And so it contributes to that, and you coming out and being a role model, kids get to look up to you and be like “She’s cool, I’m cool! Why would I hate myself? This is great!” I guess that answers how you feel about people that are in the closet.
I love them. I love people. You can only live for you and that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing because I feel it’s what’s right for me. It’s what I believe. I’m walking and being the change I’d like to see in the world. In my way. A small portion, that’s how I feel, I’m doing it. And I’m proud of myself. I can’t knock anybody else for not, because everybody has to come to their conclusions about who they are and what they want out of their lives for themselves. Or not, you know what I’m saying?

AE: Let’s just pretend that Terez was in the closet, or unwilling to be open about the relationship. Would you be able to date someone that wasn’t open? Would you be able to climb back into that closet? Have you ever had to do that?
I don’t know. Depending if it was a decision of livelihood, not about self, but maybe something external like her livelihood or something like that, I might consider it. But I don’t know because I never opted to do that and I never had to do that.

AE: You said, in the show’s trailer, that your definition of a diva is “talented, fearless and vulnerable,” which I just loved. I thought that was so perfect. And you really have made yourself vulnerable in this show, talking about your drug addiction and the fact that you’re sober now. You also talked about having a baby early and you felt that you’d be a different or better kind of mother now if you were to have a child. Do you feel like that’s the same with your career, now that you’re trying to jumpstart your career again? Are there mistakes that you made in the past that you’re looking to not do in the future and what are those?
Well I won’t do them! Once you know, you can’t go back and not know them! I absolutely do have a set blueprint. I do have a better idea of the minefield that I won’t step. I know the path of the minefield and I know how to get around it. It was youth-driven. We think we know it all, we think we’re invincible. When you’re younger, you think the world is revolving around you. So experiencing life and going through stuff has I think made me an extremely grateful, much more savvy and gracious person. Mistakes, I’ve outgrown them. I can’t repeat them because I know now and I can’t go back to not knowing and I choose to adhere to what I know and move accordingly.

AE: Was that the first time you came out to your daughter or was that for TV?
No, no no no. It wasn’t for TV, it wasn’t about that. What it’s about was that, in her walk, in her growth experience — I will speak for her through my eyes. She’s found her faith and she has some conviction, as many as she can have at 21 in the experience she’s had, up until now. And that has yet to be seen. People change. If you took a question from an interview when I was 24 and asked me the same question now, I will guarantee you that there’s a different answer because of the years of living and the experience that has come in between. It changes your perspective. I’m leaving room for that, for the experience, for her to know. Who she is, I have to respect what she feels and what she believes and what it’s helping her go through. And I’m proud of that because that’s how we raised her. We’ve instilled some stuff in her. How can I be mad at that?

AE: Are you a religious person?
I’m a spiritual person. Religious, no.

Photo from TvOne

AE: Well I think that’s really neat! Obviously I wouldn’t ask you to talk about your daughter, but from what I saw on the show, she is so lovely and so smart. That couldn’t have been a better answer. I found it interesting when you were talking to the camera and you said you weren’t hurt because you love her so much so you’re giving her that room.
Yeah! How can I do that? That’s what we have to stop doing as a people! As humans, we have to agree to live differently and still respect each other and tolerate and be patient and compassionate. Those are the things that are going to move this world to another place. It’s not about forcing each other’s belief systems and beliefs and “You should think like I think.” How whack would the world be if that’s what we were all alike? How can I be upset? I hope that she knows how to stand for what she believes by watching me and her dad and my mom and the people she’s around. How could I be angry about that? No.

AE: It’s a really beautiful thing. You are there to lead by example and not by force. It really shows through. I also found it interesting to see Michael’s reaction to your having a same-sex partner and Keke and him getting into almost an argument and her saying “I have three gay brothers!” That for me was a turning point of the show. I was like “Woah, that’s a twist!” Is that an ongoing dispute with them?
You gotta remember, too, that certain things add spice to other people’s storylines. I think they used it for a tease a little bit. He didn’t know. He wasn’t aware, that’s absolutely true. That strong reaction, it was just the initial thought. It was a little pulled, stretched. Because he has a great relationship with her brothers, they’re cool. I’ve seen it! I think it was just for some spice. Some of it!

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