It’s been eight years since Gabourey Sidibe left an unforgettable first impression in her first film, Precious, which earned her an Academy Award nomination. Since then she has had roles in hit shows from Empire to Difficult People to American Horror Story.
This year, she added "author" to her long resume, writing a memoir about her tumultuous childhood and Hollywood rise, This Is Just My Face: Try Not To Stare. And to cap it all, she just released a short film that marks her directorial debut.
Gabourey's new film, The Tale of Four, brings us into the lives of four Black women: Saffronia (Megan Kimberly Smith), Sarah (Ledisi Young), Peaches (Aisha Hinds), and Sweet Thing (Dana Gourrier). If these four characters sound familiar, it’s because they were drawn from the 1966 Nina Simone song, Four Women, and like the classic, The Tale of Four tells the story of multi-faced black women fighting for justice.
Gabourey's film was released in partnership with Refinery29's Shatterbox Anthology – a film series that gives 12 women directors the support to tell stories through the female lens.
She uses Nina Simone’s timeless narrative to addresses the harrowing complex realities of the black mothers, daughters, and undaunted revolutionaries fighting back against police brutality and the epidemic of mass incarceration today.
In an interview with Refinery 29, Gabourey shares exactly why she chose to speak on these issues:
"As I do with most things I’m afraid of, I talk about them, make them audible, hoping that addressing the fear will alleviate it. That’s what the film is about: addressing it, saying it out loud, and hoping that through sharing my fear and my outrage that it will cause more outrage and more fear."
The film merges narratives from female activists, sexual assault survivors, and children of imprisoned mums and the most poignant thing about is that the film resonates as a portrait of contemporary American society still infected by the same racism, cruelties and prejudices against black people that Nina Simone sang about over 50 years ago. We really hope that things will finally start to change.
The cast of the short film also includes her Empire co-star, Jussie Smollett. The Tale Of Four premiered to rave reviews this past June at the Nantucket Film Festival. Watch The Tale of Four below.