Mo'Nique was born in Baltimore, Maryland, to Steven Imes, Jr., a drug counselor, and Alice Imes, an engineer. She is the youngest of four children. Mo'Nique graduated from Milford Mill High School in Baltimore County and attended Morgan State University. She is a 1987 graduate of the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland.
Before working in her chosen career, Mo'Nique worked as a phone operator. 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.
Mo'Nique revealed during an interview with Essence magazine in 2008 that she was sexually abused by her brother from the age of seven until she was eleven. He went on to sexually abuse another girl and was sentenced to 12 years of prison. After her twin boys were born in 2005 she cut all contact with her brother and they have not spoken since.
On April 19, 2010, Mo'Nique's brother admitted on Oprah to sexually abusing her and that the abuse continued for over several years. Her brother, who has struggled with substance abuse, was also abused himself by other family.
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