Will Gabourey Sidibe's Size Limit Her Career?

Introducing best actress nominee Gabourey Sidibe at the Oscars, "Precious" producer Oprah Winfrey called her a "true American Cinderella on the threshold of a brilliant new career."

The next day, Howard Stern attacked the "Precious" star on his Sirius radio show, calling her the "most enormous, fat black chick I've ever seen," and said Winfrey is a liar for "telling an enormous woman the size of a planet that she's going to have a career."

VIDEO: Howard Stern criticizes Gabourey Sidibe for being a "fat black chick."
Howard Stern Rips Gabourey Sidibe

Who's right?

Sidibe, 26, may be proving Stern wrong. She's been cast as a student opposite Laura Linney in the new Showtime series "The C Word" and her next big-screen appearance will be opposite Zoe Kravitz in the upcoming drama, "Yelling to the Sky."

Hollywood watchers tend to agree with Winfrey, that Sidibe has a bright future ahead and what happens now will depend more on her talent than her size.

New York casting director Bernard Telsey said Sidibe's size is both a plus and minus.

"It's going to make her not right for the new 'Romeo and Juliet,' but it's going to make her right for the role that needs her for that specificity," Telsey told ABCNews.com.

VIDEO: Howard Stern blasts media coverage of comments he made about Gabourey Sidibe.
Howard Stern Fires Back at ABC News

"There's room in Hollywood for someone who looks like her," Telsey said. "Sure, there will be fewer roles, but there's always less of everything for people who are unique and original and different."

Greg Kilday, film editor for The Hollywood Reporter, said Hollywood will have to think creatively to find roles for Sidibe.

"And Hollywood isn't always creative," he told ABCNews.com. "To try to find roles that she will fit well in is going to be tricky. She may, in some senses, find herself competing with Jennifer Hudson, who already has an Oscar under her belt. Hudson hasn't done much in the way of film work since 'Dreamgirls.' I think Gabourey might face the same challenges."

Aguilera Slammed for Weight

Large-Size Actresses Face Challenges

Hudson is one of several large-size actresses who have had some success in Hollywood. They include Sidibe's "Precious" co-star Mo'Nique, Queen Latifah, Camryn Manheim, Delta Burke and Nikki Blonsky.

Among them, only Latifah has found steady work on the big and small screen.

"It's going to take another person kind of like a Lee Daniels to think outside the box a little bit," said Bradley Jacobs, a senior editor at Us Weekly, referring to the Oscar-nominated director of "Precious."

VIDEO: Gabourey Sidibe & Lee Daniels on their controversial new movie Precious.

"It's going to be a challenging path," Jacobs told ABCNews.com. "She's not Carey Mulligan. She's certainly talented and could work, but she needs producers to think outside the box and help her find the roles."

Sidibe's bubbly personality also could help pave the way. Her valley girl charm already has won over the media and public.

"Having that confidence and being happy and cheerful and funny with such a great sense of humor is not something we're taught as a culture that fat women are capable of feeling," said Lesley Kinzel, who writes for Fatshionista, a blog for plus-size women. "We're supposed to hide, to be ashamed. That's why I am so excited for her having so much public attention. She's defying and flouting all these expectations."

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...