Empire Star Gabourey Sidibe Talks Fear and Refusing to be Defined by Limited Standards for Women

FILE - In this Sept. 12, 2015 file photo, Gabourey Sidibe attends the "Empire" season two premiere in New York. The second season of "Empire," starring Sidibe, premieres on Wednesday, Sept. 23. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

Empire star, Gabourey Sidibe, who was a college student planning to be a psychologist when she fell into acting, has found herself helping people in unexpected ways because of her career. She talked about that in a recent interview with the Associated Press.

AP: You were 24 and studying to be a psychologist when “Precious” launched you unexpectedly into an acting career. How have you changed since then?

Sidibe: I’ve learned it doesn’t help to say, “No, I can’t do it.” I’ve learned that fear is not useful. I’m surprised how many things I’ve bumped into over the last eight years that scared me to death and that, when I actually came across them, I didn’t even feel it. It’s interesting how well I’ve been able to forget to have fear.

AP: You’ve become known as someone who refuses to be defined by limited standards for women’s looks. Do you feel a responsibility to act as a role model?

Sidibe: When I was a young girl, I didn’t see enough of myself on TV or in magazines. And representation is very important to everyone, but especially to girls like me, and people like me, whether it be because of my body, because of my race, because of my skin color, because of my awkwardness or where I come from.

While it makes me nervous to represent for anyone, I am extremely proud that some brown, round little girl sitting in front of the TV can look at me and that exists as well and that she has some value. That is the most important thing in the world. … What’s surprising is that it doesn’t always come from kids. I get it from the brown, round little girl but also the skinny white man. I think I am a round peg trying to fit into a square hole. And I think that’s what people relate to.

Check out Ms. Gabourey in action on Empire:

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