Actress. Born May 6, 1983, in Brooklyn, New York to special education teacher Alice Tan Ridley and Senegalese cab driver Ibnou Sidibe. Sidibe’s parents split when she was young, and Gabourey moved in with her mother, who gained local fame for singing in the subways. Gabourey, inspired by her mother’s passion for music, spent her teen years singing songs to fellow students at recess for pocket change.
Sidibe maintained her love of performance throughout her adolescence and appeared in bit parts in local theater. But Gabourey’s big break came in 2007, when she landed an audition for the movie Precious, directed by Lee Daniels. The film, about a 16-year-old, 350-pound girl who is abused by her parents, featured seasoned stars Mo’Nique, Mariah Carey and Lenny Kravitz in supporting roles. Sidibe, a relative unknown, was bouncing between several New York community colleges and working odd jobs when she found out that she had landed the part.
The film, which was revealed at Sundance, turned Sidibe into an overnight sensation. Since its release, she has been nominated for a Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Actress. She also finished work on another film project, Yelling to the Sky, which co-stars Zoe Kravitz.
Gabourey currently resides in New York City.