I just finished reading Push for my AfAm literature class. I heard the audiobook a few years ago and must admit that it was nothing like actually seeing the pain on the page. At one point I actually put the book down, but never doubted that I would make it to the end. From the start you just want to see Claireece “Precious” Jones triumph.
As I attempt to figure out what the focus of my research paper will be, I’ve started to search for interviews with Sapphire (unfortunately scholarly articles are limited). During my search, I found an update on the book’s film which is currently in production. I know I mentioned all this in a previous post, but I now have a photo and more information on the film’s most important character.
She almost didn’t go to the audition in September for the movie version of “Push,” a novel by the African-American poet Sapphire. She arrived late, as the casting people were getting ready to wrap up, to read for the starring role, that of an illiterate, abused teenager named Precious Jones in a story about incest, H.I.V. and the hope of redemption. And even though the casting search had gone on for months in audition rooms all across the country, she blew everyone away.
Ms. Sidibe cannot explain the wave of emotion she tapped into that day, in a performance that got her a meeting with the director, Lee Daniels, and the starring role in his movie less than a week later.
“I’m sad for her, so I was sad,” she said with a shrug the other day in her dressing room in the Brooklyn Municipal Building, where the movie was being filmed. She is not a Method actor, she said; she doesn’t “become” the character when she isn’t acting.
But there are ways that she can relate. Ms. Sidibe is larger than the typical starlet at the casting agency, and her skin is darker. When she was younger, she was teased about her appearance. More recently, when she hung out with her theater friends, some other girl, taller or skinnier, always got all the attention.
“I was comic relief,” she said. “The best friend.”
Now she is the star. She tells herself that fame isn’t guaranteed by doing one movie. She is, she said, level-headed that way.
1/15/09 UPDATE: According to Uptown Flavor, Push will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival tomorrow. But if you’re like me, you’re still waiting to take a sneak peek at the movie trailer, right? Well, I can’t help you with that, but here’s just a little more about the film’s Sundance debut. Sorry! See my latest post on this topic.
Happy reading, ya’ll. 🙂