All we knew of her last fall was that she was making her acting debut in that much-whispered-about indie flick. We were still learning to pronounce (and spell!) her name when, in a flash, “Precious” caught the world’s attention and Gabourey Sidibe became a mainstream superstar. Earning that coveted Oscar nod and an NAACP Image Award was just the icing on the cake.
In a chat with Essence.com, the 27-year-old native New Yorker – now, affectionately-known as, simply, “Gabby” – introduces us to her new character, Andrea, on the Showtime series, “The Big C.” Without giving too, too much away, we’ll just say that she’s a real piece of work! Sidibe took a break from packing boxes for her interborough move to speak about her latest gig, why she can take a joke and the advice she wishes she had imparted on herself.
After all of the Oscar buzz, how does it feel to be settling into a new role?
First of all, it’s amazing that I’ll forever be known as an Oscar-nominated actress! [Acting] isn’t what I’d planned to do with my life, so just knowing that Precious wasn’t a fluke for me is really an awesome feeling.
So, tell us about Ms. Andrea.
Andrea’s sassy and colorful, but she’s kind of mean, too. That’s her defense mechanism.
Speaking of mean, Andrea’s teacher (portrayed by Laura Linney) tells her that she has two choices in life – either she can be “fat and jolly or a skinny bitch.” As a full-figured woman, did that line offend you?
I have a very sick sense of humor, so I thought it was hilarious! [laughs] Besides, I know jolly, fat girls and bitchy, fat girls, so perhaps it’s not an either/or situation.
Perhaps! You enjoyed quite a ride while promoting Precious. Which experience was the most fun?
My first, really fun moment was sitting on Conan O’Brien’s couch and then, there was SNL! I love Saturday Night Live and at one point, I was watching it like six times a day on Comedy Central. Because I’m such a fan of the show, it was ridiculous that I would get to host it, which is not something I’d ever considered.
You’ve become a symbol of self-love and empowerment. Was that your intention?
It was a happy accident, actually. People thought I should hate myself because I don’t look like ‘the norm,’ but what is the norm? I absolutely believe that you can be anything you want to be and should love yourself, no matter how you look or what anybody thinks.
Knowing what you know now, is there anything you wish you could’ve whispered to yourself last year?
I would’ve kept it simple and said, “It’s going to get a little weird, but you’ll make it through. Just be cool – just be you.”