Gabourey Sidibe Visits ISU

“Please don't lie to me, Ms. Rain! Love ain't done nothing for me... but beat me... rape me... call me an animal! Make me feel worthless! Make me sick!” A famous line from Gabourey Sidibe’s role in Lee Daniels’ Academy Award-nominated film, Precious. The spring 2018 Women’s History Cultural Dinner celebrates influential women of the past, present and future. Last Thursday, Gabourey Sidibe gave us a look at what it is like being a celebrity, as she was interviewed by ISU students and how she overcame her obstacles as an African American woman.

How is to be an African American woman in the show business?

GS: “I don’t know because I don’t have any other choice. All I know is it’s pretty dope from where I stand but I mean I love it. I don't know honestly, there is so much for me to do now and on top of that, there’s so much for me to create and so I never thought it was a good idea to just sort of wait around for somebody else’s yes. You know, wait around for someone to cast me in this or someone to ‘Oh I see you here so you should do this’ I think it's more important to create the roles and not just create the roles but create other ways and means to be an artist. I can do that and I’m not sure if I would have the same ability to do it if I were black--if I weren't black rather. But I’m glad I am. I’m glad I do have the ability to do this. I am extremely happy to be black. I really don't want it any other way, so out here, it's dope for me.”

What’s the hardest part of dropping into fame?

GS: “The hardest part of dropping into fame and all of a sudden being famous is the visibility. It's very hard I mean. The film came out when I was 26, and so for 26 years I was a normal girl, walking around, kind of being ignored, you know. Now I go to Walgreens and people want to take pictures of what’s in my cart. I live in Chicago and I love Chicago”

Do you live in Chicago because of Empire?

GS: “Correct. For nine months out of the year I live in Chicago and I love walking around for the two weeks of summer in Chicago, but I find I often have to duck into buildings because I realize people are following me. That can be very, very scary. Like yeah visibility is very, very scary, that's the most uncomfortable part of fame. I don't really live for fame, I live for my career, I live for the art and the stories I get to tell and so that's what I try concentrate on more than being famous. Being famous is actually super-duper inconvenient”


Hello, my name is Bailey and I'm the one person in the room that cheered for The Big C. So I feel like Showtime, a lot of their shows have predominately white casts. So could you tell me a little bit about your experience and kind of playing Cathy’s voice of reason during that show when you know that her life has such a short timeline?

GS: “Yeah that role was originally a white girl too. So it was going to keep on being predominantly white and my black a** said no. So that show is really, really, really special. It was my third job ever and I got that show right before The Oscars. It was a real education and of what it’s like to actually be an actor in this industry. Because my first film, it was just little me and this crew doing this like super low budget film and just hanging out. This was actual work, this was an actual story that was going to last for more than just 90 minutes, so I got to learn what that was like. I don’t think, at first, we knew she was going to die. We had no idea in the first season, because we didn’t know how long the show would last. But it was super, super fun and everyone was really wonderful. It is one of my most favorite jobs I’ve ever had and I miss those people every day.”

Maybe you can just end with one of the last questions we got about what’s an inspirational saying you say to yourself to encourage yourself or to encourage others around you every day?

GS: “It literally is ‘You ain’t going to evict me and you ain’t going to whoop my a**’ Like any problem you have, with anything, with anyone, no matter what, it’s not going to push you out of your home, it's not going to kill you and it's not going to physically harm you. Be out there doing what you want. You ain’t gone whoop my a**!

Well thank you so much Gabby for chatting with us it was a great opportunity to get to know you a little better and hear from you.