Monday, July 17, 2006

Living Large and in Charge: Mo’Nique’s F.A.T. Chance 2

America, there’s a new “Vivrant Thing” in town and she’s F.A.T.--no, not just p…h…a…t, but F.A.T., f…a…t, fabulous and thick. Replace the fresh-from-the-factory, skinny women prancing around in Hip Hop music videos, with vivacious brick houses, sizes 14 and up, and you get just a glimpse of the landscape of “Mo’Nique’s F.A.T. Chance”. Taped at Hollywood Center Studios, this untraditional parade of beauty has enough pageantry to make Bert Parks and Jayne Kennedy proud. And by replacing the boring one piece bathing suit with lingerie so sexy even Victoria would reveal her secrets, F.A.T. Chance boldly goes where most beauty shows would not, but with class. Confidently, 10 full-figured “real” women show off their natural curves for an enthusiastic crowd of family, friends, and fans. Like the shows of old, “F.A.T. Chance” awards prizes and cash to the winner, but the ultimate prize is priceless. Without a doubt, it’s pageantry with a deeper purpose. Each lovely participant gains a stronger sense of self and an elevation in self-esteem and pride that will exist long after they leave the stage. Such awards are invaluable in a time where a woman’s worth is still often only skin deep.

Comedienne, actress, and author, Mo’Nique, hosts and Executive Produces the show. Her first time on stage began as a dare in Baltimore. Challenged by her brother to deliver jokes before a crowd, Mo’Nique not only showed up, she showed out. The audience loved her brash style of comedy and a fabulously thick star was born. But it wasn’t until she quit her day job to pursue comedy full time, that her talent became known outside of Maryland. Then in 1999 came a pivotal moment in her career; the star from the east was granted an opportunity in the west. Hollywood called and Mo’Nique responded eagerly.

In her first starring role, Mo’Nique, graced tv screens as the comical mother and college student, Nikki Parker, on UPN’s hit sitcom, “The Parkers”. During it’s successful 5 year run, the show earned five NAACP Image Awards and was nominated every year of it’s existence. The winning streak continued when Mo’Nique took home the organization’s Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series honor in 2001, 2002, 2004, and 2005. That led to magazine covers and more work in front of the camera. From hosting the televised amateur night at “Showtime at the Apollo” to starring in films, Shadowboxer, Two Can Play that Game, Beauty Shop, and Queens of Comedy, which earned a GRAMMY® nomination for Best Spoken Comedy Album, Mo’Nique’s star power grew by leaps and bounds. Her new film F.A.T. Girlz is currently in theaters.

And just when we became comfortable seeing Mo’Nique on our living room flat screens, she placed herself proudly next to the remote on the coffee table. She and co-author, Sherri McGee, authored a hilarious book that resonated with F.A.T girls across the country. Skinny Women Are Evil hit bookshelves in 2003 and in a matter of months made it to the New York Times Best Sellers list. Contrary to it’s title, the book was not meant to insult any particular group of women, but instead, to give hilarious insight into the world of plus sized women. Within its pages, Mo’Nique shared funny stories about her life and insights about self esteem.

Then in 2004, Mo’Nique proved to the world that not only can the F.A.T lady sing, she can dance amazingly well too. As host of that year’s BET Awards, she and a group of plus-sized dancers gave Beyonce a run for her money by performing a perfectly choreographed routine to the hit song, “Crazy in Love,” at the top of the show. The audience responded enthusiastically, giving Mo’Nique and her dance squad a long and well deserved standing ovation. The memorable performance earned her another spot as host and helped shatter any notions that heavy-set women can’t dip it low as well as their thinner peers.

The next year, this “Phenominal Woman” showed us once again that she can’t be boxed in creatively. In 2005, she created “Mo’Nique’s F.A.T Chance,” America’s first full figured reality beauty pageant. Aired on the Oxygen Network, the tv ratings were overwhelming better than expected. In fact, it was the highest rated show in the history of the cable network. So it’s obvious she and Oxygen definitely have a hit show on their hands. However, there may also be an underlying mission. In case you haven’t noticed, a revolution has begun, and yes it will be televised. Big girls are in. From films, to commercials, to inspirational talk show hosts, big girls are steadily making a positive impact around the country in visual mediums. So when evil skinny women began screaming, “Super-size me!” don’t be alarmed. It’s only natural for them to want to be a part of the movement.

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