Unknown "Precious" actress lives unlikely dream

Thu Oct 29, 2009 7:53pm EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Gabourey "Gabby" Sidibe is riding a once unthinkable trajectory of newcomer movie stardom that rivals any fairy tale.

She won the title role in the new film "Precious: Based on the novel 'Push' by Sapphire" with no serious training, and beat out hundreds of hopefuls in her first real audition.

The result is that she shines in scenes with stars like Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz. And her character, an obese abused teenage girl, tells an urban tale of despair and redemption that was never meant to make it to the big screen.

Opening in the United States on Friday November 6, "Precious" is now proving a winner with critics and audiences since it screened at the Sundance Film Festival in January, and Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry have signed on as executive producers.

"It's been almost nine months since we did Sundance with the film, so it's like being pregnant where everybody wants to rub your belly," Sidibe, a Harlem-raised 26-year-old, giggled about her experience in a recent interview.

Sidibe portrays Claireece "Precious" Jones, who is twice impregnated by her father and beaten by her mother who despite such a difficult upbringing, tries to find her way to a better life.

The tragic, sometimes comical and ultimately hopeful tale is based on a best-selling novel by New York poet Sapphire.

Before scoring the leading role in the film set in Harlem in 1987, Sidibe was a receptionist whose mother occasionally sang on New York's subway platforms. She attended local colleges and studied psychology.   Continued...