Back in 2009, Gabourey Sidibe wowed the world with her acting debut in the film Precious. It wound up getting four Academy Award nominations and two wins, and one of those nominations went to Sidibe, putting her in the Best Actress category alongside icons like Helen Mirren and Meryl Streep. So, Sidibe essentially comes out of nowhere and delivers work worthy of an Oscar nomination; you’d think (and hope) that’d put her on the fast track in Hollywood. Turns out though, that wasn’t quite the case.
“I remember when I got nominated for an Oscar. It was The Today Show or Good Morning America, one of them, and they hid me backstage while they’re reading the nominations to be like, ‘And when you’re nominated, you go out.’ And I was like, ‘But what if I don’t, guys?’ And they’re like, ‘Uhhh, then we won’t do it. But you’re here in case!’ I guess the host did not know that I was there. So I was nominated and then they send me out. I used to live with a roommate at the time, and when I got home, my roommate had watched it and he was like, ‘So did you hear what they were saying right before you came out?’ And I was like, ‘No!’ He was like, ‘Yeah, they were like – ugh, and Gabourey Sidibe, the dark horse of the race.’ And I was like, ‘Oh!’ And he was like, ‘And then you come out like you had not heard that and they were already talking about how you’re definitely gonna lose, and you’re a dark horse.’”
For the record, Sidibe’s name was on a significant amount of Oscar nomination prediction lists that year. But from there, she went on to address the road ahead and how her Oscar nomination didn’t pave the way to the same opportunities that it did for others.
“I’ve heard the idea that I’m just lucky before. I’ve heard that. I’m an extremely unlucky person, actually. I’m very, very unlucky in a lot of ways. I work really, really hard though. I work really, really hard. An no, the Hollywood seas didn’t part for me in the same way that it might have for maybe Anna Kendrick who was nominated for the first time that year as well, who then went on to star in films and television and the whole thing. The seas did not part that same way for me and I assume that there are a few factors that made that so, but I am still working 10 years later. I’m still working 12 years after having filmed it. I have agency. I am comfortable with who I am. I know my voice. I know what I want to say to the world. I know what I want to give to the world and what I want to give to myself. I know my artistry. And so, you know, starring in things or being on the covers of magazines, all of these things that say that I’ve ‘made it,’ everything that solidifies my position on the A-list, whatever that means, doesn’t actually mean anything to my self-worth and my sense of artistry.”
While it’s most certainly a downright shame that Sidibe didn’t have the abundance of opportunities to choose from after her nomination that she deserved, she’s certainly excelled while carving her own path in the industry over the years. As you’ll hear in Sidibe’s full episode of Collider Ladies Night soon, I’m a diehard American Horror Story fan and cannot get enough of the electric energy she’s brought to the role of Queenie. But, even beyond her screen presence, Sidibe brings something to the industry that it vitally needs, kindness and positivity. While talking to her Antebellum directors, Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz, they called her “sunshine personified.” We’ll be talking more about that in Sidibe’s full episode of Ladies Night dropping on Collider on Sunday, September 20th. But, if you’re itching for more of Sidibe’s good vibes right now, I highly recommend checking out her Instagram.