Gabourey Sidibe on Carving Her Own Path from ‘Precious’ to ‘Antebellum’

     September 20, 2020

If you’re looking for a mood booster right now, we’ve got “sunshine personified” right here for you – Gabourey Sidibe. While chatting with Antebellum directors Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz on The Witching Hour, they noted that Sidibe has a beauty, soul, and spirit that radiates out to everyone around her. It’s something you can feel in much of her work, on her Instagram page, and now, having had the pleasure of chatting with Sidibe for 40 minutes about her journey in Hollywood, I’m lucky enough to say I felt it firsthand.

When asked where that sunny disposition comes from, she first noted, “I’m just really tired of having a shitty attitude. When negativity hits, when I’m drowning in it, I get so tired that I just pop out of it, whichever way I need to.” In addition to just not having any time to waste on negativity, Sidibe also highlighted the value of understanding her role in the world:

“I understand my role in this universe. I understand my role in my family, my role in my relationships, my role on any set, in any script. I understand why I’m here, and I just try to live through that because that feels better than not knowing my purpose. That feels better than thinking I suck. That feels better than hating myself. It simply feels better.”

But on top of that, Sidibe also had a pretty powerful force nudging her in this direction from the very beginning, her mom:


Image via Lionsgate

“My mom was a singer for the bulk of her life and mine, and my mom used to tell people that she was in the ‘joy business.’ I was just reminded of that the other day. I remember she used to say it and I used to be like, ‘Uh, okay mom,’ because I’m a shitty teenager. But remembering that that’s what my mom says about her gift and her talent and her voice, I’m reminded, ‘Oh, that’s me too. That’s what I do. That’s what I am. I’m in the joy business.’ And honestly, the person who benefits from whatever ball of sunshine or light or joy I exude, is me. If it didn’t do anything for me, I wouldn’t do it.”

Check out Sidibe’s full episode of Collider Ladies Night to hear more about her experience carving her path in the world her way. She also digs into what happened post-Oscar nomination, her journey with American Horror Story, her ambitions as a director, what she thought of Antebellum the first time she saw the film in full, and so much more! You can hear about it all in video form at the top of this article or, if you’d prefer, we’ve also got the conversation in podcast form for you below.

Antebellum is now available to watch on premium VOD. 

Gabourey Sidibe:

  • 00:46 – Sidibe talks about her two cats.
  • 01:19 – When Sidibe was young, was she watching movies and shows just for entertainment, or was the itch to create always there?
  • 01:58 – When she realized she wanted to be an actor.
  • 02:24 – She used to be obsessed with the movie My Left Foot as a kid.
  • 03:40 – What shocked her most about the filmmaking process on Precious.


    Image via Lionsgate

  • 04:54 – The challenge of ADR, especially for someone who ad-libs as much as she does.
  • 06:34 – The unforgettable moment of “gorilla filmmaking” Sidibe experienced while making Precious.
  • 09:51 – As someone with no formal training, what’s it like for Sidibe when she steps on set with someone who did study an acting technique?
  • 11:15 – The vital advice Sidibe got from Kathy Bates.
  • 12:00 – What happened after Sidibe got that Oscar nomination?
  • 15:16 – Sidibe’s Antebellum directors called her “sunshine personified.” Where does that positive attitude come from and how does Sidibe bring that to her sets?
  • 18:18 – Sidibe on knowing her role in Antebellum and bringing that joy to the film.
  • 19:08 – The key to making a supporting character feel like a full person.
  • 20:17 – Sidibe finds someone she knows that her characters remind her of; who is that person for Sidibe’s Antebellum character?
  • 21:35 – What was Sidibe’s first reaction when she found out what was going to happen to Queenie in American Horror Story: Hotel?


    Image via FX

  • 23:52 – Does Sidibe have any interest in directing an episode of AHS?
  • 24:45 – As a director honing her craft, what’d she learn from Bush and Renz that she’s going to take with her?
  • 27:31 – How Janelle Monáe’s manager got the ball rolling when it came to Sidibe getting involved in this project.
  • 29:30 – Sidibe talks about Monáe’s presence on set; “she oozes cool.”
  • 32:16 – Antebellum spoiler warning! Sidibe’s reaction to seeing the full film for the very first time.
  • 36:55 – How the ending ensures the film stays with you.