Actress Gabourey Sidibe: “I Was Born To Stand Out”

Gabourey-Sidibe

For an actress who has only been in the game four years, being nominated for an Oscar for her very first feature film is pretty major! Were talking, of course, about Gabourey Sidibe, the 30 year old who burst into our pop culture conscience’s in the 2009 dark film Precious where she played an illiterate sexual-abuse victim.

Not only was it a stand-out role and movie that year, but the fact that she is not a size zero, and African-American was a double-whammy in the face of all convention and reason in a lot of people’s minds. But her performance spoke for itself, and forced a lot of people to think outside the box when it came to Oscar-worthy leading roles.

Well the dynamic diva is back again, this time playing the role of Queenie in FX’s American Horror Story, season 4. She told Parade Magazine how stoked she is to be on the show, because she was already a huge fan of (creator) Ryan Murphy (Glee, The Glee Project) and AHS itself.

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Pleasantries and plotlines aside, of course they asked her about being a larger black woman, because it seems she can’t escape this questioning! This is exactly what Mindy Kaling and Lena Dunham were talking about in their interview where they say women who are large or ethnic always get stuck with this line of questioning, where as men in the industry don’t. Seems absurd to us, because talent is talent, regardless of race, background, gender, education etc.

When asked how she has changed in the past four years since Precious, Gabby says she has funnily enough become more introverted as a person, but as an actress more daring.

“I’m less likely to talk to strangers or have loud or emotional conversations in public. I don’t make friends as willingly as I did before, so I hold on to my actual friends very dearly. I’m a very careful person now. As an actor, I’m much more willing to embarrass myself if it will serve the story. I hunger for strange and daring stories. I’m less and less afraid of dark material and that’s really saying something, as my first role was an illiterate sexual-abuse victim with HIV.”

She continues to talk about how being part of an “it” crowd is certainly not her thing, and that she would rather be different to everyone else. This is why she is not trying to lose weight or fit in to conventional Hollywood standards. Lets hope this line of questioning will eventually cease, but in the meantime we know it goes a long way to inspiring other women.

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“I’m less and less concerned with fitting in. I was born to stand out. I don’t care whether or not people will find me attractive on screen. That’s not why I became an actor. I know that more and more with each new role.”

As one of only two African-American women on the show (Angela Bassett is the other) there are a few racially-themed story lines which will no doubt stir some controversy amongst media and viewers alike. Gabourey shares her experience:

“During the first episode, there is a scene in Madame LaLaurie’s torture chamber, where she imprisoned her slaves. I went to see the set because I heard that it was really cool. I stepped in and saw those actors in cages and tattered clothes and saw the special effects scars on their bodies. I lost my breath and started having a minor panic attack and, after only a few seconds, I had to leave. I didn’t see actors playing on a set. I saw reality. I saw history. My history. My mother, my father, my entire family and everyone I know. I later threw up. I can’t say that it resonates deeper with me because I’m black. It resonates deeply with me because I’m black and because I’m a human being who has love for my fellow human beings.”

We are excited to see her performance on the show and know whatever Gabourey does in her career will be brilliant. Thank goodness for Hollywood stereotypes and conventions continuing to be broken down, and making way for more diverse types of talent.

While we can’t wait for the day women in any industry aren’t considered “special” because of their gender or physical appearance, we might as well take the small empowering victories for each other as they come up, and continue to fight for more visibility wherever we can.

Gabourey-Sidibe

 

 

6 Comments

  1. I like her. She is beautiful. Glad she is staying true to herself.

  2. Pingback: Gabourey Sidibe: "I Choose To Live My Life Without Hiding My Body In Shame"

  3. Pingback: Here's Why We Believe Gabourey Sidibe Is The Most Important Star On 'Empire'

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