Gabourey Sidibe

*No one expected this for sure.

Audiences probably thought Gabourey Sidibe, first seen in the film “Precious” in 2009, would just do her part and disappear into the woodwork. After all, look at her. She’s not considered Hollywood material.

But the Oscar-nominated actress is not going anywhere, anytime soon. Unless its on the speaking circuit, where she is getting applause for a courageous, confident and inspirational story about her life.

At the recent “Ms. Foundation For Women,” Sidibe recalled a fifth-grade party that meant a lot to her. She told how she had baked cookies to share them with the class, but none of the kids would eat them.

She said to the audience, why didn’t they like me? I was fat, yes. I had darker skin and weird hair, yes. But the truth is, this isn’t a story about … color, or weight. They hated me because… I was an a–hole!

And a “bossy” one at that.

Then she detailed how the kids could never get a word in edgewise without her cutting them off to remind them that she was smarter, funnier, and all around wittier than them.

She said that as she struggled to make friends, she recalled how she  passed by a particular photo in her home everyday; it was of her aunt, Dorothy Pitman Hughes, a feminist and activist, standing side-by-side with her lifelong friend, Gloria Steinem, with their fists held high in the air.

She said “every day as I would leave the house … I would give that photo a fist right back. And I’d march off into battle.”

The lesson she learned however was this:

“I live my life, because I dare. I dare to show up when everyone else might hide their faces and hide their bodies in shame.  … If I hadn’t been told I was garbage, I wouldn’t have learned how to show people I’m talented. And if everyone had always laughed at my jokes, I wouldn’t have figured out how to be so funny. If they hadn’t told me I was ugly, I never would have searched for my beauty. And if they hadn’t tried to break me down, I wouldn’t know that I’m unbreakable.”

As you might suspect, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.