Gabourey Sidibe is no stranger to telling the stories of marginalized women. Since rocketing to worldwide fame for her Oscar-nominated performance in 2009's Precious, the 34-year-old actor has been breaking barriers with roles on mega-hit shows ranging from Difficult People to American Horror Story. This year, she added "author" to her long resume, penning a memoir about her tumultuous childhood and tenacious Hollywood rise, This Is Just My Face: Try Not To Stare. Now, Sidibe has teamed up with Refinery29's Shatterbox Anthology for her directorial debut, The Tale Of Four — a poignant call to action for the Black Lives Matter generation.
Inspired by Nina Simone's haunting 1966 song, "Four Women," Sidibe's film bravely captures the harrowing realities of the mothers, daughters, and undaunted revolutionaries fighting back against police brutality and the specter of mass incarceration. Studded with a powerhouse cast including her Empire co-star, Jussie Smollett, The Tale Of Four premiered to rave reviews this past June at the Nantucket Film Festival, cementing Sidibe's status as a fresh directorial voice to be reckoned with.
Weaving together narratives from female activists, sexual assault survivors, and the children of imprisoned moms, the film resonates as a portrait of contemporary American society still infected by the racism elegized by Simone over 50 years ago. But if the brave women of Sidibe's short seem doomed to have to fight the same cruelties and prejudices perpetrated against Black bodies for centuries, their fearless honesty also echoes the hope that things might finally start to change. "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," Sidibe told Refinery29 earlier this year. "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."
An unflinching look at the everyday trauma endured by people of color in this country, The Tale Of Four feels as heartbreakingly familiar as it is enduringly relevant. Catch the film above.