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Self-Confidence, Stardom and Post-Racial Culture: Gabourey Sidibe in Entertainment Journalism
MRIC 2015/16

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Self-Confidence, Stardom and Post-Racial Culture

Gabourey Sidibe in Entertainment Journalism

Self-Confidence, Stardom and Post-Racial Culture

Presented by Russell Meeuf, School of Journalism and Mass Media

Russell Meeuf

School of Journalism and Mass Media

Presented with support of the Provost’s Office and University Honors Program


Gabourey Sidibe rose to fame in 2009 with her Oscar-nominated performance in Precious and quickly became an icon of inclusivity in Hollywood. As U.S. media increasingly touted the rise of a “post-racial” culture in the wake of the election of the first black president, Sidibe’s successes on American Horror Story, The Big C and Fox’s new hit Empire seemingly demonstrated new possibilities for those whose body size and skin tone deviate from traditional definitions of stardom. This talk explores these possibilities as well as the limitations of “post-racial” stardom by analyzing the insistent focus on self-confidence in Sidibe’s star persona. Exploring the relationship between post-racial media discourse and neoliberal individualism, the presentation will show how Sidibe’s star persona celebrates individual solutions to social problems and a colorblind model of universal womanhood.


Russel Meeuf researches popular media and culture. In particular, his work focuses on celebrity culture, popular cinema, masculinity studies and disability studies. His writings have appeared in Cinema Journal, Celebrity Studies, The Journal of Popular Film and Television, The Journal of Communication Inquiry and other journals.

Reflecting these interests, he is the author of "John Wayne's World: Transnational Masculinity in the Fifties" (2013). He is also the co-editor (with Raphael Raphael) of "Transnational Stardom: International Celebrity in Film and Popular Culture" (2013), a collection examining the phenomenon of transnational celebrity from the 1950's until the present. His teaching covers a variety of issues in media studies, including semiotics and visual communication, critical and cultural studies of mass media, representations of crime and the criminal justice system in U.S. media and the history of cinema. He is currently writing a book on contemporary film and television stars whose bodies deviate from cultural norms regarding weight, health and beauty.

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