When it was announced that Mo'Nique's arrival was imminent, the crowd began chanting her name. At noon the doors at the back of the auditorium opened. When the host entered, the women screamed and stood on chairs to take pictures. It dissolved into chaos.
Mo'Nique slowly made her way to the stage at the front of the room, stopping to embrace excited women along the way. When she reached the podium, she was verklempt. She touched one hand to her face as if to stop the tears. When she finally spoke, it was in a purposeful, husky tone.
Mo'Nique Imes addresses contestants at an open call for her reality-TV series
"I honestly wish that I could bottle up what I'm feeling right now to give to y'all for the days that aren't too bright for the days that your thighs rub too hard together. Because I am y'all. I know how you feel," she said. "All of you ain't coming to LA, but all of you who are here have already won. Walk away with a pride that says I am a fat girl. Embrace it and love it."
Contrary to the Frankie Valli song, big girls do cry. After Mo'Nique left, many aspirants trudged slowly away with their heads hanging, tears trickling down perfectly made-up cheeks.
Even though she wasn't asked to return for a callback, Tess, a pretty, zaftig woman with caramel-color skin, expressed gratitude and happiness. "There are so few opportunities for women of size. Even though nothing came out of it, just the fact that I supported this makes me feel good."