Let me make this point from the very top: Gabourey Sidibe is a wonderful actress. She was pitch-perfect as the abused and ultimately triumphant teenager in Precious and rightly deserved her Oscar nomination for best actress. Watching a smart and talented African-American woman get her due in these racially tense times is something that always makes me cheer.
All of which makes my next observation disturbing, even to me. I hate, hate, hate her new Elle magazine cover, and for many, many reasons. First let’s start with the most important fact of all: Sidibe has done just one movie, yet she’s received beyond her share of press, photo shoots, show-hosting assignments, and magazine articles. Yes, she was nominated for an Oscar, but so was Taraji Henson just two years ago for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The petite, real-life single mother of a teenage son who also appeared in films such as the critically acclaimed Hustle and Flow received her share of love from traditional black magazines such as Ebony and Essence, but white magazines didn’t seem to find her particular beauty or story coverworthy. Viola Davis was nominated for an Oscar the same year as Henson, for Doubt. The veteran performer (who recently won her second Tony, playing opposite Denzel Washington in Broadway’s Fences) received even less mainstream press than Henson did.
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