Her film debut Precious – a bleak, uncompromising portrayal of an obese, black, disenfranchised teenager in the projects who is beaten by her Mother and raped and has two babies by her Dad -was a runaway hit at the US box office last year. Mama Mia it ain’t, but as actor and brand-new superstar Gabourey Sidibe describes it, “it’s dark but uplifting too”. As the Oscar season draws ever closer, you’re going to have a lot of conversations about this girl, so here’s a handy cheat sheet for your information.
26 year old actor Gabourey was born in Brooklyn
She saw off competition from 400 other girls to be cast as Precious (as an abused, mute single-mom schoolgirl) in the film of the same name
Her surname (from her Senegalese Dad) is pronounced SIH-deh-bay (so now you know)
The film won numerous awards, including the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Award, and six others so far, plus being nominated for countless others, INLCLUDING a Golden Globe for Gabourey AND the Oscar nominations aren’t even out yet!
One of her biggest fans is Oprah Winfrey. On seeing the film she says: “I didn’t know what to do with myself,” and has given plenty of interviews and airtime to promoting the film.
Gabby gets frustrated when journalists expect her to resemble the withdrawn, traumatised character she played in Precious. In reality she’s extrovert and charming. In the film the only sign of this side to her is during the fantasy sequences, where Precious is a star on the red carpet. She also talks openly about her size in interviews, explaining how she became confortable with her shape and how 'there's no such thing as normal, anyway'
She’s enjoying the
The fashion world have been the latest milieu to embrace her – V Magazine have shot her for one of two covers for their infamous Size Issue as well as Harpers Bazaar who have styled her as well.
She has finished shooting her next film, Yelling to the Sky, a Sundance Lab project directed by Victoria Mahoney and starring Zoe Kravitz, in which she plays a bully.
Precious is in cinemas from January 29; watch the trailer below (hankies at the ready).
UPDATE! Look out for our exclusive interview with Gabourey in our magazine issue dated January 26th!
- Naomi Attwood