How many psychics does it take to tell a sad little girl that she can be much more than the world is telling her she is? None. She’s got to be able to convince herself to show up for her own life. I still don’t see any real value in fame. Sure, I skip most lines. I get plenty of free clothes and jewelry, and at restaurants, as we’ve seen, the chef sends out free desserts. But fame isn’t what gets me out of bed in the morning. It’s purpose. I’ve found my purpose and this is it. I love what I do. I’m grateful to be a two-time college dropout who finally believes in psychics. I’m not recommending it, but I’m not not recommending it.
If you follow Gabourey Sidibe on Instagram, you know that she is an amazing woman. Beautiful, funny, sassy and a fantastic singer, Gabourey (sounds like cabaret) is definitely one of a kind. But the actress is even more amazing for giving her fans an unapologetic look into her life, no matter the consequences. This Is Just My Face, Try Not to Stare (This Is Just My Face from here on) is an in-your-face memoir about growing up in a body and a family that doesn’t fit the so-called “norm” and having the confidence to be great anyway.
Gabourey, the daughter of a Senegalese father and Southern mother from Georgia, did not have an average life. For one, her mom is a popular New York subway singer, who I’ve had the pleasure of hearing on many occasions on my way to work. Gabourey’s route from Brooklyn to Harlem to Hollywood was not an easy one, and she reveals some very troubling, but real problems we all face. Her words are hilarious, touching, sarcastic and sometimes annoying, but that’s what makes her relatable. I read This Is Just My Face pretty quickly because Gabourey’s story reads like a conversation with one of your girlfriends: sitting down with a glass (or ten) of wine and chatting each other up after too much time apart. She doesn’t make light of the problems she endured, but she doesn’t turn herself into a victim, either. She faces those problems and deals with them, in her own way.
One of the things she talks about in the book is the affect social media had, and still has, on her. Unless you’re made of stone, the Internet can be a brutal place for anyone. Gabourey is no different. Worrying about what fans will think about her hair, her clothes, even her smartass comments made me wonder how she had the strength to get past it all. Being in the public eye is bad enough, but for women of color, it’s even worse. Tack on the trolls, racists and just plain picky fans, it’s a wonder anyone stays on social media. But Ms. Gabby did because she has the confidence to know none of that matters. Gabourey knows she’s amazing and I wholeheartedly agree.
This Is Just My Face is a great read and a fun, eye-opening way to get to know this most phenomenal woman. I highly recommend it.
This Is Just My Face, Try Not To Stare is published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.