Yes, I know that when I created this particular category, I said was mainly with the intention of spotlighting established actors and actresses that I thought were underrated, or new actors and actresses that I think should be more well-known. I don’t know if Gabourey Sidibe really fits either of those criteria, but my main reason for writing this is to admit something:
I was wrong.
Yes, I know, shocking. This is a such a rare occurrence that I feel like should make a point to admit it when it happens.
Back in 2009 when Gabourey starred in the film PRECIOUS (which, for the record, I have never seen, so I can’t judge her performance) she was almost universally praised for her performance, and got a multiple awards and award nominations. But all the talk was not positive. On his radio show that year, Howard Stern said she wouldn’t have a career, because of her appearance. Many media outlets attacked for that, but at the time I thought he was just speaking the harsh truth. I figured, look, she lucked out in that the role in Precious specifically called someone who looked like her, an obese dark-skinned Black woman (who was still young-enough to convincingly play a 16 year old – Gabourey was 26 at the time). But, after that? What?
Hollywood sucks for women in general, and especially Women of Color. Halle Berry has struggled to get quality roles over the years, so I didn’t think Gabourey would have much of a shot after Precious. How many roles would be written with someone like her in mind. And it’s not just because she’s female, I compared her to actor Jamal Woodard, who played the Notorious B.I.G. in the film NOTORIOUS, which also came out that same year, 2009. Like Gabourey, this was his first professional acting role, and it was lucky this particular role called for a very specif-looking individual, that few matched. But after B.I.G., how many roles would there be for a tall, obese, dark-skinned Black man?
And in his case, that prediction has so far born out, as Woodard has had a few roles, mostly in small-budget indie films, in the 8 years since his debut. In fact, he’s only just now getting his next big role in a major film, and it’s playing Notorious B.I.G. again, this time in a TUPAC biopic.
On the hand, look at Gabourey. Specifically, look at her IMDB page. The woman’s been working non-stop! Mostly TV work, but she’s been playing significant roles in some acclaimed series, like THE BIG C, and AMERICAN HORROR STORY and, of course, currently on EMPIRE, the latter of which she even got a love-scene!
So yeah, I was wrong, and I’m very happy to say so. Gabourey clearly is a great talent that is propelling her to success despite any so-called disadvantages. It’s good thing she didn’t listen to people like me who doubted her. I am excited for her career and will continue to watch and see what further heights she reaches!