Jackée Harry tells Mo’Nique: stop complaining, get paid!

Jackee Harry amused a group of journalists at a special OWN-sponsored dinner Thursday, January 25, 2018 at the Four Seasons to promote her role on the new OWN series “The Paynes.” CREDIT: Rodney Ho/rho@ajc.com

Posted Saturday, January 27, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Jackée Harry won an Emmy three decades ago for her role on “227” as best supporting actress in a sitcom. She was the first and so far only black actress to take home that role.

Now back in sitcom land on Tyler Perry’s spin-off show “The Paynes” on OWN, Henry plays the cousin of Curtis Payne, who had just moved to Florida to retire. She convinces him to invest in a crappy laundromat and he and his wife Ella’s retirement is threatened.

Harry, at age 62, is still beloved among viewers of a certain age who remember “227” and her time on “Sister Sister” in the 1990s. When OWN publicity invited about 20 press members for a dinner with Harry at the Four Seasons Hotel this past Thursday, virtually everyone showed up. She jokingly compared her appearance at the hotel with journalists to scenes from the Julia Roberts film “Notting Hill” – minus Hugh Grant.

“Tyler Perry wrote this part for me,” she said. “I had no idea it was for me. When I got there, ‘He said, ‘I got you!’ ”

She hasn’t fully figured out her character just yet. “She will evolve. She will get a man somewhere!” She likes how he combines social issues and comedy, such as women empowerment. And she appreciates how direct he is.

“He looks you right in your eyeball!” she said, of Perry.

She is sad that it’s been 31 years since her Emmy and no other minority has won it since. “It ain’t right,” she said. “We got to get the writers and producers to think up stories for us. It has gotten visually better but for women of color, across the board, there are not enough parts. I’m proud of it, though. I would like to be joined by another sister.”

Harry has lived off comedy acting for decades now. She said she was trained to do drama and being typecast made her “very bitter about it for years.” But now she’s okay with it though she can see herself blending drama and comedy.

And said she doesn’t mind people coming up to her to talk “227,” repeats of which airs on OWN.  “I don’t think about it,” she said. “I don’t live in the past anymore… I’m a different woman today. I’m evolving.”

Perry works quicker than virtually anyone out there on TV. For any veteran actor, it takes adjustment and she admitted she didn’t take it well at first: “You get there at 5 a.m. and leave at 1 p.m. wandering around Atlanta. “What did I just do?’ He’s so fast. We do a whole show by the afternoon, sometimes two… He is clever, very clever.”

By the way, she is no fan of kale. “I don’t eat no kale!” she said, when she saw a kale salad arrive. “That’s all they eat in California. Child! Naah!”

And when Mo’Nique’s rejection of $500,000 for a Netflix special came up, Harry didn’t mince words: “Mo’Nique should have taken that money and did that special. I miss her. We haven’t seen her. She’s an excellent actress. I don’t want to belittle her. She’s just so good. She has to come to grips with what she does. Take that money!”

And she can’t blame Netflix for paying Amy Schumer so much more in comparison: “She puts butts in seats. She’s another female. I don’t like to put other women down at all.”


“The Paynes,” 9 p.m. Fridays, OWN

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Is her last name Henry or Harry? It's really hard to know the way the write keeps flip flopping between the two names.