Recently Gabourey Sidibe had the opportunity to be on the other side of the camera for the movie “The Tale of Four” and I really loved the interview she did with Refinary29 about her experience. Not only did she dish on being in the directors’ chair but she spoke candidly about why being a black woman is pretty lit right now.
About being a director
She said she remembered not seeing herself represented in the media and she wanted the opportunity to share the voices that tend to be missed or looked over.
It’s so important for people like me to get behind the camera,” Sidibe says with the energy of a woman out to change the world. “I know that we’re called minorities but there’s no f**king way there are less of us than there are of them.
We’re called minorities because we matter minorly. The way we matter is minor to the way they matter… Atlanta and Insecure, those are my favorite shows. We out here winning all the Emmys. Don’t say we don’t exist. We’re not a fad. We’re not going anywhere and we are snatching the gold right out of your hand.”
She shares that as a director she worries about every single aspect of creating a piece of work also mentioning that black women often pretend to be ‘good’ but behind the smiles there is so much more!
Her advice for female directors is not to ever doubt yourself, do not wait for others to tell you what you can and cannot do. Do not even tell the world what you can do, just do it!
About what inspired her to make the movie
Sididbe explains her inspiration was Nina Simone’s “Four Women,” a song that traces four archetypes of American Black women from slavery to 1966, the year Simone wrote it. “It is pretty short,” she says,“but in it you hear about not just the four women, but the people around them.”
There’s the slave woman strong enough to endure unthinkable pain; the biracial woman born out of interracial rape; the sex worker; and the woman bitter about inheriting the legacy of slavery. Sidibe was in her 20s when she first heard the song. She was struck with a vision of what the movie version could look like — a series of interrelated, contemporary vignettes, all drawing from common experience.
A decade later, the resulting short film follows the lives of four Black women over the course of one day: Teenaged Saffronia (Meagan Kimberly Smith) is raised by a single mother and struggles with her identity and the painful legacy of colorism as the result of her mysterious paternity.
Sarah (Ledisi Young) is a survivor of domestic abuse, struggling with her own mental health while raising her niece and nephew for their incarcerated mother.
Peaches (Aisha Hinds) is seeking vengeance over the murder of her son at the hands of police. Sweet Thing (Dana Gourrier) is trying to fix her mess of a love life — and if you’ve ever dealt with a f**kboy, you can relate.
About re-writing the narrative as a black woman and daughter
My mom always told me that she never wanted to have a daughter,” Sidibe says reflecting on her own childhood. “I know this sounds harsh and f**ked up, but what it set up for me as a child was that being a Black woman was not going to be easy. That’s what my mom told me.
She said she never wanted to have a daughter because girls have a really hard life. Those were the first lessons I got about being a Black woman. Today, as an adult, I would really like to erase that narrative from my life.”
About being bold and confident
If Sidibe sounds boldly self-assured in her life, it’s not spread out evenly across the playing field. She finds walking into a boardroom and asking for a TV show way less daunting and risky than approaching a guy she’s interested in dating. Sidibe trusts that the crystals she collects and wears to enrich her life have wisdom beyond her own, just because they’ve existed on this planet for millions of years before she did. She does not always trust that her ideas are great and that people around her being genuine with her.
Weeks later, I will come across a photo from the shoot that day where Sidibe is standing tall, arms outstretched, as if she’s ready to take in the entire skyline with one fell swoop. It’s a power pose of sorts, and she’s the queen of the city in that moment. It’s beautiful.
And it reminds me of something she said to me. What feels like an unlimited supply of confidence — a topic that she is kind of tired of being asked about, for the record — is not actually the reality for Sidibe.
“Confidence is not something you can pay to get one time and you’re good,” she told me. “Confidence is like makeup. You have to put it on every day for it to be useful. We all put it on. People ask me about my confidence all the time and it’s mine. I figured out my way to get it. I can’t tell you how to get yours.”
Read her entire interview here.