Too big for the Hollywood life

Get use to it Hollywood Acadamy Award winners comes in all different colors, and even sizes.

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By Erica McCauley / Staff Writer

( Lionsgate)

By Erica McCauley / Staff Writer

Get use to it Hollywood Acadamy Award winners comes in all different colors, and even sizes.

Gabourey Sidibe has taken the entertainment world by storm after her remarkable performance as the titular character in the critically acclaimed film “Precious,” which earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.

Sidibe’s rise to fame has played out like a fairytale.

She goes to an open casting call one day, the next she’s sitting at the Oscars contending with Meryl Streep, an actress with a whopping sixteen award nominations.

Surreal for someone whose acting resume previously contained just two small parts in college plays, and no formal training.

Oprah is a huge promoter of Sidibe, and she’s proved herself to be quite charming in interviews. Still, moviegoers and industry insiders are wondering whether a career in Hollywood is realistic for the actress.

The sad fact is, Sidibe has three major strikes against her in regards to landing roles in Hollywood; she’s black, she’s a woman, and she’s obese.

Few minorities have been able to carve out successful careers for themselves in film and television in comparison to their white counterparts.

Minorities that have achieved A-list status did so by generally playing roles that aren’t race specific, and therefore don’t disturb the audience with any sort of racial consciousness.

Despite her undeniable talent, there is justifiable concern that 26-year-old Sidibe won’t be able to accomplish much given the way she looks.

Shock jock Howard Stern said on his show, “She is enormous. Everyone’s pretending she’s a part of show business and she’s never going to be in another movie.”

His remarks may sound frank, but many believe he is under attack for being the only one bold enough to express what everyone else is thinking.

Money is the bottom line for movie producers who follow the box office trends.

Odds are against filmmakers creating specific roles with Sidibe in mind if they feel the film won’t do well.

Sure it was easy for audiences to believe Sidibe as a dejected child of the ghetto.

The thought of her starring in a romantic comedy as the love interest of Matthew McConaughey isn’t so palatable. Plus, it would never happen.

Hollywood has a prototype for female actresses.

While hair color, eye color, and sometimes skin tone are negotiable, a size zero dress size is not.

In an article in The Los Angeles Times, US Weekly editor in chief Janice Min said, “Look at the cast of TV shows, they’re not even a zero, they’re double zero.”

In the same article Joseph Middleton, who has cast an array of youth-oriented films including “American Pie” said, “The girls that are considered the ingénues of the day are getting thinner and thinner. I can’t tell you how many times producers and directors have said, ‘she’s a little too heavy for the camera’.”

Hollywood has shifted from the paradigm of motion picture arts and business into a center of fashion, beauty, and commercialism primarily.

Talent and merit can still go a long way. Yet it is disappointing to see how far superficial factors can go just as well in an industry obsessed with image.

By far the biggest problem with the size zero industry standard, is that actresses become the model for young women all over the world.

If actresses are forced to be thin to get roles, a whole society will emulate them.

The result is an epidemic of individuals with body image issues.

Not surprisingly, the National Institute of Mental Health reports one in five women have an eating disorder. The message being sent to youth is that you can’t really be whatever you want to be.

Zoe Saldana, the biracial star of “Avatar” says in originally in Glamour, “In Hollywood, you hear things like ‘Oh they loved you but they want to go more traditional’ that’s the new n-word.”

Which begs the question, if someone who looks like Saldana is experiencing discrimination where does that leave Sidibe?

Vanity Fair magazine provided a partial answer to that question recently when their “racist” March 2010 cover issue sparked media frenzy.

It was titled, “A new decade, a new Hollywood,” and featured nine actresses who were all are super white, super skinny, and, indirectly, super offensive.

Saldana starred in the top grossing movie ever, and yet was not included on the cover.

Sadibe, also excluded, was provided only a small feature inside the magazine.

If this is truly what the next decade of Hollywood looks like, there’s a huge problem.

Sidibe is not delusional about her situation, but stays out of the drama, instead enjoying her newfound fame and focusing on upcoming projects.

She already snagged a role in an upcoming Sundance film, in a recurring role in a new half-hour comedy called “The Big C.”

If talent is worth anything anymore, Sidibe should have a promising career.

She may have a harder time getting roles, but her nomination will help open doors that would have otherwise been closed.

At the very least, all this hoopla over her career will hopefully force filmmakers to at least flirt with the idea of creating films that more accurately convey the colorful, perfectly imperfect, reality we all live in and the characters who animate it.

While hair color, eye color, and sometimes skin tone are negotiable, a size zero dress size is not.

In an article in The Los Angeles Times, US Weekly editor in chief Janice Min said, “Look at the cast of TV shows, they’re not even a zero, they’re double zero.”

In the same article Joseph Middleton, who has cast an array of youth-oriented films including “American Pie” said, “The girls that are considered the ingénues of the day are getting thinner and thinner. I can’t tell you how many times producers and directors have said, ‘she’s a little too heavy for the camera’.”

Hollywood has shifted from the paradigm of motion picture arts and business into a center of fashion, beauty, and commercialism primarily.

Talent and merit can still go a long way, but it is disappointing to see how far superficial factors can go just as well in an industry obsessed with image.

By far the biggest problem with the size zero industry standard, is that actresses become the model for young women all over the world.

If actresses are forced to be thin to get roles, and a whole society is emulating them, the result is an epidemic of individuals with body image issues.

Not surprisingly, the National Institute of Mental Health reports 1 in 5 women have an eating disorder.

By refusing Sidibe roles just because she doesn’t meet the typical Hollywood standard, the message being sent to youth is that you can’t really be whatever you want to be.

Zoe Saldana, the biracial star of “Avatar” says in US Weekly, “In Hollywood, you hear things like ‘Oh they loved you but they want to go more traditional’ that’s the new n-word.”

Which begs the question, if someone who looks like Saldana is experiencing discrimination where does that leave Sidibe?

Vanity Fair magazine provided a partial answer to that question recently when their “racist” March 2010 cover issue sparked media frenzy.

It was titled, “A new decade, a new Hollywood,” and featured nine actresses who were all are super white, super skinny, and, indirectly, super offensive.

Saldana starred in the top grossing movie ever, and yet was not included on the cover. Sidibe, also excluded, was provided only a small feature inside the magazine. If this is truly what the next decade of Hollywood looks like, there’s a huge problem.

Sidibe is not delusional about her situation, but stays out of the drama, instead enjo
ying her newfound fame and focusing on upcoming projects.

She already snagged a role in an upcoming Sundance film, and Showtime confirmed that she has a recurring role in a new half-hour comedy called “The Big C.”

If talent is worth anything anymore, Sidibe should have a promising career.

She may have a harder time getting roles, but her nomination will help open doors that would have otherwise been closed.

At the very least, all this hoopla over her career will hopefully force filmmakers to at least flirt with the idea of creating films that more accurately convey the colorful, perfectly imperfect, reality we all live in and the characters who animate it.

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