Mo’Nique and Gabourey Sidibe don’t need my career advice. If they were to ask me for it though, I’d tell them this: enjoy the ride. It won’t last.
The cold hard truth is there isn’t a lot of roles in Hollywood for plus-sized sistas. Mo’Nique and Gabourey are not going to have a career like Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock. The movie industry is extremely harsh on women. Ask Kathleen Turner. Ask Angela Bassett. Get a little older, don’t apply Botox to chase away the wrinkles and when gravity begins to take its toll, you’re scrambling for jobs on television, slob comedies and Tyler Perry schlock fests. Plus-sized women catch hell when they’re White. It gets no easier when you throw so color in the mix.
Mo’Nique’s Best Supporting Actress made her the fourth Black woman to win the award, joining Hattie McDaniel, Whoopi Goldberg and Jennifer Hudson. Halle Berry took the little gold man home as Best Actress in Monster’s Ball, a movie widely despised by every Black person I’ve ever spoken to who’s seen it. Not to say there aren’t Black people who love the movie. I’ve just never met any that have.
Jennifer Hudson hasn’t made enough films to be included to determine what type of career she may have. She apparently has dropped 60 pounds to play Winnie Mandela in a bio flick so good for her. It’s just unfortunate actresses have to hire personal trainers and diet like mad in order to pursue a livelihood. There’s the way the world should be and the way the world is and it doesn’t look to be changing around in favor of the fat folks anytime soon.
The funny thing about winning an Oscar is how it’s no guarantee of better scripts and better roles. Mo’Nique has no new projects lined up. Maybe she’s choosy and wants to do something special instead of another Martin Lawrence comedy. Then again, maybe the silence is based on the fact that the phone just isn’t ringing for her.
Whoopi won her Oscar in 1990 after being nominated for Best Actress for The Color Purple (1985). Whoopi and Meryl Streep, Jessica Lange and Angelica Huston all had to sit and applaud as eight-time nominee Geraldine Page won for The Trip to Bountiful. Proving yet again the Academy Awards are about sentimentality as much as they are about quality.
Halle Berry’s career is a cautionary tale on how to completely squander your post-Oscar hotness. Take on projects that either cater to your vanity (Perfect Stranger), are supposed to show off your acting chops but nobody bothers to go see it (Things We Lost in the Fire, Gothika) or total stinkers (Die Another Day, Catwoman). Berry’s last movie, Frankie and Alice where she plays a women with multiple personality disorder (one which is a raving racist) wrapped in January 2009 but has yet to be released. Not a good sign for Berry’s continued status as an A-list star.
When Howard Stern ripped into Sidibe saying, “There’s the most enormous, fat black chick I’ve ever seen. Everyone’s pretending she’s a part of show business and she’s never going to be in another movie,” he was being the same dick he’s always been. Yet despite being wrong about Sidibe’s post-Precious film prospects (her next movie is Yelling to the Sky ), Stern isn’t completely off-base.
Precious is the little movie that could and Sidibe has benefited from the enormous good will it has engendered. It seems though while everyone is cheering her performance, we’re supposed to act as if Gabourey Sidibe isn’t obese and her weight will definitely limit the roles available to her.
I’m the last guy to bash anyone over their weight, but the fact is fat is funny to Hollywood producers. Would Eddie Murphy have a career anymore if he didn’t have his fat suit flicks (The Nutty Professor, Norbit) that cater to wringing cheap laughs from morbid obesity?
Only White guys get away with looking like beached whales in Hollywood. Jack Nicholson was a big star. Now he’s just big. Marlon Brando ate his way to mammoth proportions. Jack Black and Philip Seymour Hoffman are far from hardbodies
Sidibe says “People look at me and don’t expect much. I expect a lot.”
Black actresses toil in a business obsessed with image, celebrates gaunt skeletal women with enormous boobs on rail-thin bodies. Good looks are not enough. Acting chops are not enough. Being in exactly the right place at the right time under the right set of circumstances won accolades and awards for Mo’Nique and Sidibe. It isn’t enough to sustain a career.
It’s great that Gabourey Sidibe is comfortable in her own skin. I’m skeptical if fat acceptance extends to the production offices of Hollywood studios.