Gabourey Sidibe was born on May 6, 1983, in Brooklyn. Her father drove a cab and her mother taught special education. After her parents divorced, Sidibe lived with her mother. She pursued acting in New York while attending community college and working odd jobs. In 2007, she landed the lead in the film Precious. Her portrayal of an abused, 350-pound teenager earned her an Oscar nomination.
Actress Gabourey Sidibe was born on May 6, 1983, in Brooklyn, New York to special education teacher Alice Tan Ridley and Senegalese cab driver Ibnou Sidibe. Sidibe's parents split when she was young, and she moved in with her mother, who gained local fame for singing in the subways. Sidibe, inspired by her mother's passion for music, spent her teen years singing songs to fellow students at recess for pocket change.
Sidibe maintained her love of performance throughout her adolescence and appeared in bit parts in local theater. But Gabourey's big break came in 2007, when she landed an audition for the movie Precious, directed by Lee Daniels. The film, about a 16-year-old, 350-pound girl who is abused by her parents, featured seasoned stars Mo'Nique, Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz in supporting roles. Sidibe, a relative unknown, was bouncing between several New York community colleges and working odd jobs when she found out that she had landed the part.
The film, which was revealed at Sundance, turned Sidibe into an overnight sensation. Since its release, she has been nominated for a Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Actress. She also finished work on another film project, Yelling to the Sky, which co-stars Zoe Kravitz.
After the critical success of Precious, Sidibe landed a number of substantial roles on television. She appeared with Laura Linney in the dramatic comedy The Big C from 2010 to 2013. Sidibe went on to work with Ryan Murphy on the third season of his spine-tingling series American Horror Story, playing a witch named Queenie, and returned for the fourth season, American Horror Story: Freak Show, in the role of secretarial student, Regina Ross. Since 2015, she has appeared as Becky Williams in Lee Daniels' hit television drama Empire with Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson. She also appeared in the Hulu comedy series Difficult People, starring Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner. In 2016, she reprised her role playing Queen in American Horror Story: Hotel.
In May 2017, Sidibe will release her memoir This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare. People magazine released exclusive excerpts from the book, in which Sidibe writes about her decision to undergo weight loss surgery. “My surgeon said they’d cut my stomach in half," she writes. "This would limit my hunger and capacity to eat. My brain chemistry would change and I’d want to eat healthier. I’ll take it! My lifelong relationship with food had to change.”
She also wrote about how the decision was a major lifestyle change that includes a healthier approach to eating and exercise.“It has taken me years to realize that what I was born with is all beautiful. I did not get this surgery to be beautiful. I did it so I can walk around comfortably in heels. I want to do a cartwheel. I want not to be in pain every time I walk up a flight of stairs.”
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