Gabourey Sidibe is among precious few weighty actresses

by Rafer Guzmán

Newsday (MCT)

12 November 2009


How much does Gabourey Sidibe weigh?

In a perfect world, the question wouldn’t matter. But Hollywood, as you might have noticed, is far from perfect.

In the film “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” Sidibe plays Claireece “Precious” Jones, a sexual abuse victim who tips the scales at around 350 pounds. Her brave, raw performance has made her a symbol of what some hope will be a new diversity, a new tolerance, in the movies. Her skin color seems almost a secondary issue.

It is difficult, however, to name a major actress whose body mass index is less than optimal. Ricki Lake made a splash as the plus-size star of 1988’s “Hairspray” but eventually slimmed down and became a talk-show host. Nikki Blonsky filled Lake’s shoes in the film’s 2007 musical remake but seems less visible these days. And although Jennifer Hudson earned an Oscar for her supporting role in the 2006 musical “Dreamgirls,” that remains her last major film.

Movie work comes more easily for overweight men, who tend to find acceptance in comedy. Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill not only have high-profile careers, they’re often cast opposite lovely, lithe young women. (Hollywood has never been bothered much by double standards.)

Sidibe has announced she is working on another film, “Yelling to the Sky,” with Don Cheadle. Will we see her shedding pounds in the future to gain more roles? Or will Sidibe become that rarest of breeds, an overweight leading lady? Either way, this promising actress has a tough workout ahead.

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