Gabourey Sidibe is an American actress famous for the portrayal of Claireece "Precious" Jones in her debut film ‘Precious’ in 2009. The role garnered wide acclaim for Sidibe and she grabbed Independent Spirit Award in the Best Female Lead Category with Best Actress nomination at the Golden Globe and Academy Awards, in addition to a nomination at every renowned award ceremony that year. She also became one of the only ten female actors of African–American descent to have received an Oscar nomination in the Best Actress category. Gabourey Sidibe made her television debut in 2010 as a main cast in 30 episodes of ‘The Big C’, a Showtime series. As a child, she acted in school plays, but never had any aim to pursue acting as a career. Sidibe carved a niche for herself in the entertainment industry post her highly appreciated debut film with appearances in popular television shows such as ‘American Horror Story’, ‘Empire’ and ‘Difficult People’. Gabourey Sidibe’s struggle and the ensuing success remains a great inspiration for plus-size women trying to be comfortable in their own skin.
Childhood & Early Life
Gabourey Sidibe was born Gabourey MaLingair Sidibe on 6 May 1983 in Brooklyn, US, to Ibnou Sidibe, a cab driver and Alice Tan Ridley, a gospel singer. Alice appeared on ‘America’s Got Talent’, in the fifth season of the talent hunt show on television. She was bullied for being overweight at school while she also faced harassment at home from her parents.
She is an alumnus of Borough of Manhattan Community College and The City College of New York. She enrolled for a course in psychology at Mercy College, New York, but quit studies to act in ‘Precious’, her debut film.
After her parents’ divorce, she, along with her mother and brother, moved to Harlem to live with her aunt, Dorothy Pitman Hughes. Hughes, a renowned activist for civil rights and feminism, had been one of the greatest inspirations for Gabourey Sidibe during her growing up years.
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In 2009, Gabourey Sidibe’s debut movie ‘Precious’ received critical appreciation from all quarters for her portrayal of Claireece, a teen sexually abused by her father and physically abused by her mother. She co-starred with Mo'Nique and Mariah Carey in the movie.
In 2010, she appeared for the first time on television hosting the Gabourey Sidibe/MGMT episode of ‘Saturday Night Live’. She debuted as an actor on television in the same year with the role of Andrea Jackson in the series ‘The Big C’ and continued with the show til 2013.
In 2011, she appeared ‘In Yelling to the Sky’ playing the role of Latonya Williams, a bully and in ‘Tower Heist’ as Odessa Montero. She also appeared in the television series ‘American Dad!’ during 2011 and 2012.
In 2016, she directed ‘The Tale of Four’, a short film with a plotline inspired from the song ‘Four Women’ by Nina Simone.
In 2011, she appeared in a music album by the Indie Pop band ‘Foster the People’ and later in Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx’s music album in 2014.
In 2017, she released a memoir ‘This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare’, a humorous but complex account of her struggles before making it big in the entertainment industry.
Awards & Achievements
During 2009-2010, Gabourey Sidibe received nominations at several prominent awards for her work in the movie ‘Precious’. She won 19 awards as ‘Best Actress’ for the film.
In 2012, she received the Boston Society of Film Critics’ Awards for Best Cast for her role in the film ‘Seven Psychopaths’.
Gabourey Sidibe has been breaking barriers in an image-conscious industry solely with her acting prowess.
She received many negative remarks for the lovemaking scene in an episode of ‘Empire’ aired on primetime television.
Sidibe, diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes in 2017, had to undergo laparoscopic bariatric surgery to reduce weight.
Before making it big with ‘Precious’, she worked with a phone sex hotline as a telephone executive, where she had to pretend to be a white woman.