Gabourey Sidibe is a goddamn national treasure. Whether she’s reclaiming “Becky” on Empire, doling out the best clapbacks on Twitter, stumping for Covergirl, or modeling lingerie, she’s out here killing the game. She’s got a memoir, This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare coming out in May, and she just landed the cover of Nylon’s beauty issue looking like a dream.
In an interview with the magazine, Sidibe delved into all sorts of topics like bullying, Trump, finding success, and body image. She explains that while Precious solidified her as a critically acclaimed actress, it didn’t grant her the same access that was thrown at other breakout stars of her caliber. She witnessed a “prominent fashion magazine editor” explain to Lee Daniels, director of Precious and creator of Empire, that “she was too overweight and dark to be the cover girl.” From the interview:
“It really devastated me,” she says. “I guess I thought that going from literally nothing to the lead in the movie would show people that I wouldn’t be just fat anymore, or at least that’s not the first thing people would think of me, that I’m not too fat or too black or ghetto or nappy—that wouldn’t be part of my narrative anymore, but it was.”
Despite her continued success, Sidibe's haters, as they are wont to do, kept hating, getting particularly malicious during season two of Empire when Sidibe’s character Becky gets a steamy rooftop sex scene. Because in a scandalous show where pretty much everyone has sex, it’s just too much for a bigger woman to get it on. From the interview:
“It was only a big deal, though, because I happen to be in this body, this body that I have had my entire life and career. You all knew I was fat then; don’t turn on the TV and still be surprised I am fat. It implies that people with bigger bodies don’t find love and aren’t worth loving. Why don’t I deserve it? Because I’m not skinny? I love my body and I deserve love. We all do at any size.”
Throughout the interview, Sidibe maintains this honesty and reflection, sharing the intricacies of bullying, confidence, and happiness. As a bigger black woman, it seems her existence in pop culture has people constantly trying to render her an outsider of sorts. Her talent and her body are more subject to public consumption than other celebrities. But Sidibe has a unique way of disarming and owning the conversation, and, of course, embarrassing the hell out of her detractors—something we will always need more of.
Read the full interview here.