She’s got the kind of giggle that’s infectious and makes you laugh almost as if hers is contagious and you’ve caught the laugh bug. Within the first two minutes of chatting with Gabourey Sidibe, I was hooked on her personality. She was surprisingly bright and cheery and I realized that I was guilty. I saw Gabourey in Precious and assumed she was just like her character–sullen and lonely. I also referred to her as “Precious,” (behind her back) when referring to her and clearly that’s something she hates.
As a big girl, I should not only be a card-carrying member of the Gabourey club, I should be the president. I’ve seen the error in my ways and judgment and now I know that Gabby (as she told me to call her) is a shining beacon of light.
Seeing her on the big screen is damn-near life affirming. I understand having to smile harder, speak softer and step lighter so that my weight wouldn’t make the people around me uncomfortable. But Gabby displays the type of contentment within herself that is the stuff inspiration is made of.
In the midst of celebrating the release of Yelling To The Sky, where Gabby plays a bully with self-esteem issues and filming her latest drama, White Bird In A Blizzard, with Angela Bassett, Gabby’s quite the busy gal. But she still made time to treat me just like a girlfriend and chat about everything from weight insecurities, wanting to play roles that remind her of herself and she even shared her feelings on the MTV docuseries, “Catfish.” Check out our chat below.
HelloBeautiful: Your role in Yelling To The Sky, from what we’ve seen in the trailer, you look like you’re a bully to Zoe Kravitz’s character. And obviously in Precious, you were almost bullied by your mother. Have you also seen both sides of that in your life?
Gabourey Sidibe: Growing up, I was always the fat kid and I always had different ideas. I read a lot as a kid and I went to school in the Lower East Side and I just spoke a different language. I had a different voice from everyone, because my mom has a southern accent and my dad holds an African-French accent, so my accent isn’t very New York. I used to get people saying I was adopted by white people, which is so offensive. So I was really bullied for the wrong reasons. I just got over it. But there have also been times where I’ve been the bully too. I definitely have been on both sides. The bully and the bullied.
HB: Do you feel that affected your self-esteem?
GS: Yeah, Definitely. When you’re a child, it hurts. The first instinct is to know who you are. As children, we get told, ‘Don’t do this, ‘don’t do that.’ ‘Don’t think that way’ “Don’t say that.’ And so other people start telling us who we are. And that’s a form of being bullied too and that definitely affects your self-esteem, because you don’t know who you are in the world, because others have an idea of you.
HB: What part of you did you bring into your role in ‘Yelling To The Sky?’
GS: Definitely the hurt little girl that I was when I was a kid and wanting to be cool. That’s who that character is, faking it. She’s faking it; she’s being a bigot and she’s being the loudest in all these ways because she actually feels really small. She plays the aggressor to throw people off of her.
HB: There’s a lot of red tape in Hollywood. Being a black woman, roles are already going to be limited to you. And being a plus-sized woman, roles are even more limited. Furthermore, being a darker-skinned black woman, the roles must be a little bit more unavailable for you. Do you feel that’s true?
GS: I do. I think that they are in the eye of Hollywood. I can’t play the love interest and I can’t play the sultry ingenue. I’m like, ‘They don’t know my life!’ In my actual life, I am the love interest and I am sometimes the loser. But I think Hollywood has a very limited idea of who can play what. They don’t know what I can play. I’ve been very fortunate and my career is very young. I haven’t hit that wall yet where I can’t do this and I can’t do that. I feel like I’m just doing my part to change the idea and to change the mind of people making movies.
HB: Do we get to see more of the funny Gabourey soon?
GS: I hope so. I feel that I’m really funny. At least my mom thinks I’m funny. [laughs] My friends think I’m funny. It’s almost natural for me to want to do straight comedy.
HB: What is your dream role?
GS: I think my dream role involves a lot of different things, a lot of roles in one. That’s what we are as people. You’re the woman, so you’re a sister, a mother a daughter, the lover and adviser. You’re intuitive and all those things. It sounds real vain, but I guess my dream role is…me. I hope that I can encompass everything that I am into a role one day. I think I have done that a lot. I bring some of myself into every role.
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HB: What has been your biggest disappointment in Hollywood?
GS: My biggest disappointment–I didn’t realize just how much I would get made fun of in photos. Sometimes getting chased by the paparazzi, it happens and it’s very aggressive. It’s also a very small fraction of my life and my career. But it’s really hurtful. Another disappointment–I didn’t pursue a career in acting before I was an actress because I knew that I would be opening myself up to criticism and being made fun of by people who I’ll never meet, who’ll never meet me. It hurts my feelings. And I think the people don’t understand why and don’t know that it would, but not because I’m a sensitive, crazy person. It hurt my feelings because I’m a person. If that happened to anyone, it would hurt their feelings. And it doesn’t make it better. It doesn’t dissolve all the pains in my body because I’m a movie star. I still hear them.
HB: Have you seen the new MTV show, “Catfish?”
GS: I am obsessed with the new show. I’m upset with Nev.”
HB: Watching it, I saw a common theme of people looking for love online that are “overweight…”
GS: It’s not just overweight people on the show; it’s anyone who wants to hide who they are. In their own minds, they’re being who they are. I think that It might be people who don’t believe that true life can exist in their own face. Either they’re too small or too short or whatever. It’s their face. It’s who they are. It’s really sad.
HB: Well, what do you have coming up?
GS: I’m actually doing a Gregg Araki film called White Bird In A Blizzard. And it’s so fun. Angela Bassett is in it. When I saw her in the trailer, my heart stopped. She has no idea how crazy I am about her. I saw her when I was 10-years-old in the movie What’s Love Got To Do With It? Phenomenal! And I’m so excited to be part of any film that will have her. I think that will be showing in January. Exciting things, I’ll be on TV next year!
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