Gabourey Sidibe isn’t too fat for Hollywood, she’s too black

In the wake of actress Gabourey Sidibe’s Academy Award nomination for her incredible performance in “Precious,” many are saying she’ll never get another part in a Hollywood movie because she’s too fat. But they’re wrong: even if the talented actress lost weight, she’d still be too black for Hollywood.
Gabourey SidibeGabourey Sidibe 

Sidibe doesn’t conform to Hollywood’s narrow beauty requirements for romantic leads and stars: actresses should be white women, preferably blonde.

Until Hollywood’s executives start looking more like Sidibe and less like Harvey Weinstein, the fat, white guy who founded Miramax, Sidibe’s going to have trouble getting roles.

Because Hollywood is run by white men, their counterparts will star in films regardless of their weight (see Jack Black or any Judd Apatow movie) or age (Daniel Day Lewis, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Richard Gere, Denzel washington, Pierce Brosnan, the list goes on and on) or acting ability (Keanu Reeves, Tom Cruise). In producing films, white men get to play God just like they do on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, creating their fantasies and selling them to the public. There’s nothing wrong with putting your imaginative stories out into the world, but there needs to be some diversity in the power structure so that other people get opportunities to make their dreams come true too.

There is some evidence Hollywood is slowly changing. The reason “Precious” got made at all is because African Americans busted through the racial/ class barrier. Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry got successful and got rich, so they were able to make and promote a movie. Successful black women in Hollywood include Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Cicely Tyson, Traji Henson, Viola Davis, and Zoe Saldana.

Harvey Weinstein and Gwyneth PaltrowHarvey Weinstein and Gwyneth Paltrow 

There are more to be added to the list, but they remain a tiny minority. A woman couldn’t be much skinner or “conventionally beautiful,” than Saldana, the light skinned, African-American star of “Avatar” and “Star Trek.” Saldana says in Us Weekly: “In Hollywood, you hear things like ‘Oh, they loved you but they want to go more traditional.’ That’s the new n-word.”

But when it comes to race in Hollywood, even shock jock Howard Stern skates the issue, sticking with the socially acceptable bias, making fun of fat people. On his Sirius talk radio show, Stern said of Sidibe, “There’s the most enormous, fat black chick I’ve ever seen. She is enormous. Everyone’s pretending she’s a part of show business and she’s never going to be in another movie. She should have gotten the Best Actress award because she’s never going to have another shot. What movie is she gonna be in?” Stern says of Oprah’s speech to Sidibe: “Oprah’s another liar…telling an enormous woman the size of a planet that she’s going to have a career.””

Zoe SaldanaZoe Saldana 

Actress/ signer, Jessica Simpson, no stranger to viscious criticism about her weight, defends Sidibe, but also avoids the race issue, saying of Stern’s comments: “It’s unfortunate because she walked the red carpet at the Oscars and she owned it. She was beautiful. There was no denying that she did not think she was the most beautiful person on that red carpet. She was just owning that moment for herself. She had such confidence and I absolutely 100 percent think she could get anything in the world that she wanted.”

Confidence can only get you so far when white guys run Hollywood. Simpson knows that. Supposedly, in her new show, “The Price of Beauty,” Simpson researched this. I wish Simpson had said something like: “I’ve just done a program abut exploring different standards of beauty around the globe, and here in Southern California, Gabourey has three strikes against her as far as getting part she wants in movies: she’s fat, she’s black, and she’s a woman.”

Here are the Hollywood stats from Martha M. Lauzen’s annual study “The Celluloid Ceiling.” I don’t know what the breakdown is on race.

In Hollywood, women make up:

7% of directors

8% of writers

17% of executive producers

23% of producers

18% of editors

2% of cinematographers

Sidibe does have parts lined up for herself: an upcoming feature film co-starring Zoe Kravitz called “Yelling to the Sky,” and a recurring part in Showtime’s new dark comedy series, “The Big C,” which also stars Laura Linney and Oliver Platt. She also has some powerful people backing her like Winfrey and Perry. But until there are some major changes in the Hollywood power structure, Sidibe will need a back up career

3 thoughts on “Gabourey Sidibe isn’t too fat for Hollywood, she’s too black

  1. I see their casting choices more in terms of a financial aspect. They generally cast the safest choices in order to reduce the risk of a flop so they can make the most money off their investment, not because they’re pushing their own race agenda.

    Hollywood caters to whatever will sell, it’s still just a song and dance sideshow mentality. They spend a lot of money on focus groups to test out what their audience wants and that’s what they deliver. The failure of The Princess and The Frog only reinforces this – they put a lot of money into something that’s not making a good return on investment, so they’re going to reduce their risk on the next endeavor.

    “Precious” was a fluke like other indies breakouts; Blair Witch, El Mariachi, Hustle & Flow, etc. These films were barely funded but manage to grab the zeitgeist and make a lot of money in the process – but they would never have been made by the Hollywood machine because they don’t fit the middle class America target market.

  2. You seem to be pushing a racial discrimination agenda in your post here, while others are pushing the obesity discrimination agenda. Whilst I don’t agree with you on the racism issue, I think it comes back to a cosmetic issue – she is way too dark (and obese) for plastic Hollywood to embrace.

    The few black women who have become names in Hollywood (Hale Berry for example) are lighter skinned, and I suspect that you need to be lighter skinned and slim to fit into the plastic cosmetic mold that Hollywood likes to portray.

    We can also make this same argument when we consider that Adam Lambert (a flamboyant gay man) did not win American Idol, when he is beyond a shadow of a doubt a much better entertainer than Chris Allen (a straight boy-next-door type) who did win American Idol.

    It’s all about appearances, image, prejudices and fears.

    I am from Canada, and earlier this weekend we took this same question you are posting about here to the streets in Vancouver, and it was surprising to see that most Canadians we spoke to felt that she had no future, but that it was a pity, as he movies would definitely be interesting movies.

    See the video here

Leave a Reply to MieKayla Cancel reply