Academy Award Nominee Gabourey Sidibe (“Precious” and "The Big C") was raw, real and really funny yesterday at the 2014 Women In Film celebration of Black History Month in Malibu, California. Producer Kim Olgetree (“The Big Bang Theory”) moderated a fun discussion with the award-winning actress about her family, first red carpet and biggest challenges. You hear more laughs in our VIDEO: Oscar Nominee Gabourey Sidibe talks Crazy Strangers.
While studying Psychology in college and working for the phone company, this Brooklyn, New York, native’s life took a complete 360 when she got a casting call for “Precious.” Gabourey described her fast-track this way, “To tell the story short, I didn’t know where I was going, but I showed up and auditioned on Monday, was hired on Wednesday and we started shooting 3 weeks later, and then 1 ½ years later, I was nominated for an Oscar.”
As only the 8th African-American female to be nominated for an Oscar, Kim asked Gabourey about her support system. Growing up in a talented family, her mother was her rock. She “knew” that Gabourey would get nominated for an Oscar. And Gabourey gave her this shout-out, “My biggest supporter was my mom who always told me that I could be a writer, I could be a comedian or I could be an actress, I could be all these things that I didn’t believe until I was those things.”
Looking back, Gabourey shared that she paid very close attention to films like “The Color Purple” and “Roots,” who had strong performances with “amazing black women and black men.” And these role models helped when she got the “Precious” casting call.
Below are some of the fun Q&A from this Women In Film breakfast filled with tears and laughter over her accomplishments and challenges.
Kim: Were you at home when the announcements came out?
Gabourey: No, They knew that I would be nominated for an Oscar… So they wanted me to go on Good Morning America as a “surprise.”…So I was backstage…I was so excited and screamed because I was really happy, and then I walked out on the stage while the newscasters were saying “And the dark horse of the Best Actress category…is Gabourey Sibibe”…that was my surprise. (LOL from audience)
Kim: What was your first red carpet like for “Precious”?
Gabourey: I had to deal with the press line. There were 30 cameras and newscasters (at Sundance) and all these people who had no idea who I was…and they shouldn’t…they didn’t care who I was because no one has seen the movie…So 30 cameras and all they asked me was What’s Mariah Carey like?
Kim: What is your biggest challenge?
Gabourey: My biggest challenge has been getting used to walking into a room full of strangers, and having all those strangers know something about me. You can watch the full funny and heartfelt response in our VIDEO: http://youtu.be/YVI_tkss0VM
Kim: As a successful African-American actress, what has been your most difficult challenge?
Gabourey: My most difficult challenge has been public opinion and dealing with that….I’m putting whatever I do out to the masses thru film or TV and I’m asking strangers in the entire world to like me too,…and it’s hard to take in the feedback…Like, I just started a Twitter account…I hate Twitter. I think it’s disgusting. It’s ridiculous that you as a stranger can type something to me, and I see it. Technology has gone too far….but I have to have it. Watch her Twitter Rant and the LOLs in our second VIDEO: Gabourey Sidibe Twitter Rant.
In closing, when asked about advice for young actors, Gabourey shared, “If you want to be an actor, then know that you want to be an actor, and good storyteller, and figure out where you want to do that, and know that that’s very different than wanting to be famous.”
After the panel, Manager Dolores Robinson presented Gabourey Sidibe with a special thank you award. Many thanks to Women In Film Los Angeles for hosting this Black History Month brunch at Casa Escobar. The walls were decorated with black and white photos of African-American actresses such as Angela Bassett and Whoopi Goldberg, and purple and white orchids decorated the tables. And everyone walked out with a big smile!