Like a lot of folks, I have mixed feelings about the movie Precious. I’d read the book, but sometimes Lee Daniel’s gothic leaning in to the wretched (in general – not just this film) is too much. And although it’s a really good film, it’s frustrating that Hollywood seems to only like black people when we’re being enslaved or poverty stricken. There’s not a lot of #winning out there unless Will Smith’s in it. And then, I tuned in to American Horror Story during a scene with Gabby Sidibe involving bestiality. All this to say: I wasn’t loving her.
And then I read her autobiography, “That’s Just My Face, Try Not to Stare” and changed my attitude. She’s way smarter, way more resilient and more self-respecting than I’d previously thought. Is she constantly offered hideous parts? Yep. Does she work it anyway? Yep. I’m not in love with the character Becky on Empire’s blonde hair, but it’s certainly an upgrade.
She lets loose some really surprising stuff. She was a phone sex operator for awhile. Actually she said most of the phone sex operators, especially the high performers, were black women, who played white women over the phone. Apparently that’s what the guys on the other end of the phone want, and that’s what they think they are getting. See, Sorry to Bother You regarding the white-on-the-phone syndrome. Most white people really overestimate their ability to discern who’s black over the phone! Actually, they overestimate a lot of their abilities regarding classifying black people. Back to the subject, everything is relative, so coming from pretending to be a horny, young, white female and being demeaned over the phone, Precious was a step up. And being the beast queen, or whatever she was on American Horror Story, as a bigger name with a bigger salary is a step up. Everything she does is better than the last, and after reading this book, I look forward to seeing her continue to climb.