Actress Gabourey Sidibe’s memoir This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare hit shelves this week. In the book, Sidibe talks about her upbringing and tackles issues like confidence and body image.
“I was Gabourey M. Sidibe in American elementary school, in a pre-Lion King world,” she writes. “I was Gabourey in a school full of Jennifers, Stacies, Ericas, and Elizabeths. Brandons, Johnnies, and Anthonies. My round little belly and my dark chocolate skin made me look different, and the way I sing songed by African name made me sound different.”
Sidibe also talked about her early fame from her breakout role in Precious, and the impact of that character.
Having people call me Precious and having people confuse me for this character was both really scary, frustrating, but also really endearing and powerful. … People would see the film and then come up to me and say, you know, “I was Precious and I was abused by my parents,” and “I was abused by this family member,” or, you know, “I’ve dealt with these issues.” And these people were 70-year-old white men and [Asian teenagers], just like so many different people from all over the scope of the world. So many different people connected to this struggle because it’s not about race, it’s not about gender, it’s not about sexuality, it’s not about age — it’s not about any of that. It’s about humanity. …
And people would say, even when they couldn’t see me as a different person from this character, they would say, “This happened to me the same way it happened to you.” And I didn’t feel like I could say, “This didn’t happen to me. This is a character.” All I could do was give sympathy and push forth strength, in a way. Say, “She made it and you can make it too.”
This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare is now available.