Gabourey Sidibe, better known as Becky on Empire, actually went by that same alias when she auditioned for her first job as a phone sex operator. (Yes, you read that correctly.) Sidide actually worked for the company for three years right up until her first big break as the star of the Academy Award-nominated film Precious.
On Monday, Sidibe released her first memoir, This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare. After reading and listening to excerpts of the autobiography, we learned the Sidibe is freaking hilarious and we want to be her friend as well as a few key lessons that we can all apply to life. Keep reading for nine takeaways we learned from Sidibe’s book.
“My hair and I have been through a lot (it’s been on fire twice),” said Sidibe in her new memoir. “There are many more hair battles to come, but I know my strength and beauty start at the roots. I’ve realized that black women have the most beautiful hair: long hair, weaves or natural; bobs, cut straight or asymmetrical; braids; dreads; Afros; shaved bald; faded with a flat top. Our hair can be anything! Choose a color, choose a texture, and our hair can do it. There’s an entire Black Woman Hair Universe of Possibilities.”
After being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, Sidibe underwent weight loss surgery. “I did not get this surgery to be beautiful. I did it so that I can walk around comfortably in heels,” she said in her memoir. “I want to do a cartwheel. I want to not be in pain every time I walk up a flight of stairs. I want to stop worrying about losing my toes.”
Regardless of your size or shape, love your body! “I could lose weight. That is a fact. But I am dope at any and every size. I am smart. I am funny. I am talented. I am gorgeous. I am black. I am fat. Sometimes I’m a bitch. At all times, I am a bad bitch,” Sidibe asserted. And while you’re at it, be a bad bitch too. Because why not?
Despite contrary opinion, going to a therapist can actually be helpful for your mental health. In her book, Sidibe admitted that she struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts. “Here’s the thing about therapy and why it’s so important. I love my mom, but there’s so much I couldn’t talk to her about during my Hoe Phase,” Sidibe wrote. “I couldn’t tell her that I couldn’t stop crying and that I hated everything about myself. Whenever I did try to open up, my mom seemed unconcerned…I found a doctor and told her everything that was wrong with me. I’d never run down the entire list before, but as I heard myself, I could sense that dealing with this on my own was definitely no longer an option.”
On the day of the audition for Precious, Sidibe debated going to class at Mercy College in the Bronx, New York (where she was a psychology major) or going to the audition for the role she was “never going to get.” Her friend persuaded her to go to the audition and the rest is history.
In life, things don’t always happen overnight, but if you continue to persevere, they often work out in in your favor. “Things can work out if you’re smart, but my greatest virtue is patience,” said Sidibe. “I was with the company for three years, right up until I got the part in Precious. I took what I learned about secrets, shame, and pleasure, and applied it to the real world around me.”
Stay positive by keeping negative people and comments at bay. “Honestly, I block people [on Twitter] all the time,” Sidibe explained. “I prefer my world to smell like strawberries and look like rainbows, and at least on Twitter I can block negative comments, fighting, and opinions about what I should be doing in my life. I am compulsive about keeping those dark clouds out of my life. Choose your tweets wisely.”
When I say that I’m beautiful, I don’t say it so someone will clap and think I’m brave,” said Sidibe. “I’m not doing it so that someone will comment on how confident I am. I don’t say it with ego and I don’t say it defensively. I don’t say it meaning that people who look like me are better than people who look like you. I say it because I believe it. I’ve earned every centimeter of my beauty.”
“How many psychics does it take to convince a sad little girl that she can be much more than the world is telling her she is?,” asked Sidibe. “None. She’s got to be able to convince herself to show up for her own life.” Once you begin to show up, the world is yours.