News Brief

Gabourey Sidibe is Coming Out With a Memoir Next Year and it Looks Lit

"This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare" is the upcoming memoir from actress Gabourey Sidibe. The cover was released today and it looks great.

Gabourey Sidibe (or Ms.SidiBae, if you’re nasty) is releasing her first book in May of 2017, entitled “This Is Just My Face : Try Not to Stare .” The cover art was released this week, and from the look of her African print dress, glowing skin, fan-blown hair, gold-copper converses and confident as fuck pose, I can already tell the book will be lit.

Ms. Sidibe is known for her stunning portrayal as the title character in the movie Precious, for stepping into the dark side on American Horror Story and for playing the witty, idea-driven Becky on Empire. She’s appeared in Lane Bryant’s gorgeous “This Body is Beautiful” campaign and has used her platform to spread body positivity and black girl magic to the masses. Now she has a new book underway, so we can finally read some of her hilarious and honest thoughts and ideas.

Image courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Of course, we knew she could write—she recapped Empire episodes on Entertainment Weekly—so I’m not surprised that she penned a whole book. Yet, her memoir will be something special: we have books from Lena Dunham, Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling and Issa Rae, but we need more books from full-figured women of color whose perspectives are usually ignored or underrepresented in society.

Throughout Ms. Sidibe’s career, her weight and skin color have been topics for discussion—in media and online. In 2014, Twitter trolls hated on her Golden Globe outfit, last year social media made fun of her love scene on Empire and if you Google her name, you’ll find that some news outlets are more interested in how many pounds she weighs instead of how many movies and TV shows she’s been on. Generally, women are judged by our looks over our brains and abilities, but this judgement is taken to a new level when a woman has a figure that society deems unhealthy and unattractive. Apparently it's a problem when a woman is happy with her gorgeous, voluptuous, dark chocolate dipped body.

But Sidibe has always had the last laugh in these situations. Her clapbacks are classy and comedic: in the case of the Golden Globes hateration, she tweeted: “To people making mean comments about my GG pics, I mos def cried about it on that private jet on my way to my dream job last night. #JK.” And in her Ms.Foundation Gala speech, she addresses the absurdity of interviewers asking her where her confidence comes from. “I hate that. I always wonder if that's the first thing they ask Rihanna when they meet her... They ask me with that same incredulous disbelief every single time. ‘You’re so confident! How is that.’”

The joke is really on us. Why should fat women be congratulated for their confidence? Society is actually in the wrong, for continuously putting them down. As a society, we need to change our perspective. That includes all of us—maybe you haven’t made fun of a fat person, but if you don’t stand up for them in times of bullying, if you have internalized disgust over larger bodies, that’s a problem too.

And once again, she has the concluding cackle, the final snicker, the ending giggle. While some of y’all are still hating on her body, still wondering when she will be a size 4, still getting mad when you see her on a new show, Sidibe is coming out with a book and collecting even more checks. It’s as if haters are the ones pumping her bank account.

I hope to read more stories of realness in “This is Just My Face.” Sidibe has a lot to say, and I’m looking forward to hearing it. And if people have something sly to say about her book— like, I don’t know, the font is too big, the pages too wide, you know how society be—then I will happily get in formation and think of a clever defense against their ridiculous comments.

Watch the behind the scenes video of her shoot below:

Alisha is a Brooklyn-born writer, tea enthusiast, and lipstick babe who loves creating all-natural potions for her hair and body. Her writing focuses on race, gender, body, beauty, social issues, and pop culture. Follow her on Twitter @FuFuFeminist and on Instagram: alisha.acquaye

Photo: Jolaoso Adebayo.

Crayon Is Nigeria's Prince of Bright Pop Melodies

Since emerging on the scene over two years ago, Crayon has carved a unique path with his catchy songs.

During the 2010s, the young musician Charles Chibuezechukwu made several failed attempts to get into a Nigerian university. On the day of his fifth attempt, while waiting for the exam's commencement, he thought of what he really wanted out of life. To the surprise of the thousands present, he stood up and left the centre, having chosen music. "Nobody knew I didn't write the exam," Charles, who's now known to afro pop lovers as Crayon, tells OkayAfrica over a Zoom call from a Lagos studio. "I had to lie to my parents that I wrote it and didn't pass. But before then, I had already met Don Jazzy and Baby Fresh [my label superiors], so I knew I was headed somewhere."

His assessment is spot on. Over the past two years Crayon's high-powered records have earned him a unique space within Nigeria's pop market. On his 2019 debut EP, the cheekily-titled Cray Cray, the musician shines over cohesive, bright production where he revels in finding pockets of joy in seemingly everyday material. His breakout record "So Fine" is built around the adorable promises of a lover to his woman. It's a fairly trite theme, but the 21-year-old musician's endearing voice strikes the beat in perfect form, and when the hook "call my number, I go respond, oh eh" rolls in, the mastery of space and time is at a level usually attributed to the icons of Afropop: Wizkid, P-Square, Wande Coal.

"My dad used to sell CDs back in the day, in Victoria Island [in Lagos]," reveals Crayon. "I had access to a lot of music: afrobeat, hip-hop, Westlife, 2Face Idibia, Wizkid, and many others." Crayon also learnt stage craft from his father's side hustle as an MC, who was always "so bold and confident," even in the midst of so much activity. His mother, then a fruit seller, loved Igbo gospel songs; few mornings passed when loud, worship songs weren't blasting from their home. All of these, Crayon says, "are a mix of different sounds and different cultures that shaped my artistry."

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