Since Rebel Wilson rose to fame, she’s become a cheerleader for body positivity. Thanks to her considerable comedic chops, the Australian star was even able to take a character called Fat Amy and make her arguably the highlight of the entire Pitch Perfect franchise. In recent years, though, the actress has made some significant changes in her life – and that has led her to a whole new look.
Before Wilson actually moved to Hollywood, she first made a name for herself in her native Australia. Most notably, she was one of the stars of Aussie comedy sketch show The Wedge – playing, among other characters, a woman called “Fat Mandi.”
And as Wilson won further roles and more acclaim, her career began to pick up steam. She even appeared in the Nicolas Cage Marvel film Ghost Rider in 2007. Two years later, she also received the Best Actress award at the Tropfest short film festival for her part in the movie Bargain. Then the aspiring star received her big break.
Famously, Wilson was one of the ensemble cast of comedy Bridesmaids, with her character, Brynn, having been written with the actress in mind from the start. And that film not only turned out to be a massive hit – grossing $288 million internationally – but it also ended up being nominated for two Oscars.
Then, the following year, Wilson first appeared in the role that would catapult her to stardom. And playing Fat Amy in the first Pitch Perfect movie won the young hopeful a huge amount of acclaim, too. Wilson even earned the MTV Movie Award for Best Actor in a Movie, while she was nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category of the San Diego Film Critics Society’s SDFCS Awards.
Interestingly, though, the producers of Pitch Perfect asked Wilson not to lose any weight while filming her role. In 2012 she told the Australian Daily Telegraph, “I have been filming a musical called Pitch Perfect in Louisiana for the past few months … and for my contract in that movie, I had to stay the same size.”
Wilson went on to the newspaper, “I’d lost ten kilograms and then had to maintain that for the whole movie – which is quite difficult. I was lucky in that I didn’t really have any health issues in that I had to lose weight or my heart would explode, but it was more just feeling more comfortable in myself.”
And Wilson was seemingly happy enough in her own skin to crack jokes about herself. As the film version of Les Misérables scooped awards in January 2013, Wilson tweeted a picture in which she could be seen alongside the movie’s star Anne Hathaway. This was accompanied by the caption, “Get ready for [the sequel]… I’m playing ‘Fat Cosette.’”
Wilson even started a line of plus-size T-shirts named after her character from The Wedge. The shirts, which were released in 2013, featured images of cupcakes or donuts on the chest, and Wilson advertised them on Twitter with the words, “If you need some cupcake or donut power in your life, check out my T-shirt experiment site… Sizes range from 12 to beautimous…”
Then, in September 2013, Wilson spoke to Vulture about her career thus far. She said, “Even when I’m playing Fat Amy in Pitch Perfect, I’m all about attitude. When I first walked into my agency, WME, they signed me because I was distinctive. I didn’t look like every other girl in Los Angeles, and they liked that. I looked like someone an audience could relate to.”
Wilson even revealed that she wasn’t really interested in being glamorous. The young star told the publication, “I’m not vain at all. I’m an actress. And if something gets a laugh, I have no problem embarrassing myself. The character is the point. Not my ego.”
Unsurprisingly, Pitch Perfect spawned a sequel, and so Wilson once again hit screens as Fat Amy in 2015. That same year, she also wore Victoria’s Secret-style angel wings to the MTV Movie Awards as a protest over the skinniness of the lingerie brand’s models. And Wilson would later explain her reasons for the stunt to the New York Daily News.
The actress told the newspaper, “I think one of the messages is that we are all beautiful, and sometimes girls look at Victoria’s Secret models and think to model themselves after that. I really don’t think that is the best. Even though they are called models, they are not the best people to model yourself after, and I would like to encourage other girls to think like that.”
Still, in a 2015 interview with the New Zealand Herald, Wilson did admit to comparing herself negatively to her Pitch Perfect co-stars. She revealed, “They are so tiny – I am literally three times their size. Sometimes it’s hard because it’s just difficult not to look so massive next to those girls. But at the end of the day, I just am who I am… at least at lunch I eat whatever I want, while they’re eating lettuce.”
And in a November 2015 interview with Cosmopolitan, Wilson implied that she had a difficult relationship with food, saying, “I love me some ice cream or dessert, and it comes at times when I’m happy or sad. So, when I have an incredibly successful day, I want to celebrate and reward myself with food. If I’ve had a sad or stressful day, food is also comfort.”
Wilson went on, “I bought this hilarious slogan sweater the other day that says, ‘Food is my only friend.’ I thought it was really cute. You would probably describe it as emotional or stress-eating. I don’t do drugs; I don’t really drink… so eating is my one vice. I wouldn’t ever want to totally give it up.”
Even so, Wilson told the magazine that ever since she had moved to Los Angeles at the beginning of the decade, she had been trying to eat in a more healthy manner. She explained, “Living [in LA], you learn a lot about health. I now drink green juices, and I’m trying to do gluten-free. But I don’t do it 100 percent – I’m not a maniac!”
In the meantime, Wilson’s career continued to go from strength to strength. In 2016 she added a clutch of films to her resume as well as a performance as Ursula the Sea Witch in a Little Mermaid concert. Wilson also presented the Best Supporting Actor category at that year’s BAFTAs and spent time treading the boards in London as Miss Adelaide in a West End production of Guys and Dolls.
And in a 2016 Daily Telegraph interview, the star seemed happy to speak about her size. She talked about a time when another girl had been more successful in a show, saying, “I was like, ‘Oh. That girl’s getting a lot of laughs a lot easier than me. What is it?’ Because I don’t think there’s much difference in talent. And I remember distinctly thinking, ‘I think it’s because she’s fatter.’”
Wilson went on, “And then, I don’t know if it was mega-conscious, but I thought, ‘How can I get more laughs? Maybe if I was a bit fatter…’ And then suddenly I was fatter – and doing comedy.” She added, “I saw my size as being an advantage, whereas so many women see it as a disadvantage.”
In the same interview, Wilson also revealed that a hormonal inbalance had seen her gain weight quickly. But, as it turned out, she was okay with the prospect of changing shape. The actress added, “Oh yeah! I’ll take six months off and just do a total transformation. But then, so many people go, ‘Don’t you do it!’ But I think, ‘Why not?’”
And Wilson has also talked about the disadvantages of being plus-sized. In a 2017 chat with Cosmopolitan to promote fashion line Rebel x Angel, she explained how it had felt when she couldn’t find clothes she liked as a young teenager.
Wilson told the magazine, “I remember I had to go shopping with my mom as a teenager, and it was mentally disturbing. If you are plus-size, there’s not a lot to choose from, and, I don’t know, I guess I didn’t know what looked good [on me]. So [shopping] wasn’t a fun, enjoyable experience.”
The Cosmopolitan interviewer then asked Wilson, “Do you think the fashion industry is more or less size-inclusive now?” To this, Wilson responded by saying, “Honestly, more. I even had a model agency say they’re frantically trying to find more plus-size girls because there’s more work for them.” The actress also referenced the success of curvy models such as Hunter McGrady and Ashley Graham.
Wilson added, “I never want to promote unhealthiness. I always want people to be the healthiest version of themselves. But if that’s plus-size, then I want them to feel confident about how they look and be able to dress with style. Just because you’re not a size two or four [doesn’t mean that] you can’t have style.”
Fast-forward to 2018, however, and Wilson suddenly appeared to be slimming down a bit. It turned out, in fact, that she’d been employing the services of LA-based celebrity personal trainer Gunnar Peterson. And Peterson spoke about his client to US Weekly, saying, “When she’s in town, she’s [training] a solid four days a week. She is such a cool person to work with.”
Peterson additionally claimed that Wilson was serious about improving her health. He told the magazine, “As much as I encourage levity throughout the workout, during the workout it’s work. But in between, we’re going to trade a pleasantry or a joke or a jab. [Wilson’s] right there with you. She’s clever and funny and smart. I love being around people like that. That’s why I like this job.”
Then, as Wilson promoted the musical movie Cats at the end of 2019, it was noted that she’d lost quite a lot of weight. Apparently, that was all down to shooting the film and the intensity of life on set. Wilson told Entertainment Tonight, “I lost eight pounds, shooting my number, in four days.”
So just how had she managed to shed that weight so quickly? Well, Wilson explained, “One, because there’s a lot of physicality… but also, they heated up the set very high – to almost 100° F – so that we could never cool down. These people are like, the best dancers in the whole world, so they can’t cool their muscles down or they could get an injury and they’d be out of the film… So, they’d heat up the set like a sauna so we would never cool down, but [this] made it pretty uncomfortable.”
And as 2020 dawned, Wilson shared her New Year’s resolution with the whole world. On January 2, she wrote on Instagram, “Okay, so for me, 2020 is going to be called ‘The Year of Health.’ So, I put on the athleisure and went out for a walk. [I’m] deliberately hydrating on the couch right now and trying to avoid the sugar and junk food – which is going to be hard after the holidays I’ve just had, but I’m going to do it!”
Wilson’s Instagram followers were very supportive of her, too. One wrote, “You look amazing! This pic has definitely motivated me to start my year of health 2020. You are super inspiring!” Another person said, “You look really good this size, BUT you have always been someone I thought was beautiful!”
To help Wilson in her weight-loss journey, she hired so-called “transformation trainer” Jono Castano. And on January 17 the fitness guru shared a picture of himself and Wilson to his own Instagram page, along with the caption, “Friday vibes, but [Wilson] has been putting in the yards seven days a week! Proud of you, girl.”
A few days later, Castano also spoke to website Hollywood Life about how he was training the actress. He said, “[Wilson] is one of the sweetest souls I’ve ever met. During our training sessions, we have a lot of fun. As with all my clients, I try to make the sessions enjoyable and engaging. Training is about having fun and getting the work done.”
Castano then revealed that Wilson went to the gym six days a week before saying, “I encourage all my clients to do an extra bit of cardio during the day to keep moving. A little tip is [to] get a watch or use your phone to count steps and aim for 10,000 steps a day. If you’re on 9,000 steps at 10:00 p.m., you have to get it done.”
And Castano gave out some other tips for people hoping to lose weight like Wilson. In particular, he said that fitness fans should use an assault bike “as fast as possible until [they] reach ten calories. The assault bike is a perfect tool for metabolic conditioning and provides safe movement without impact.”
Another routine, known as standing bandit trunk rotations, was recommended by the trainer. He continued, “Do 12 each side. [This is] one of my favorite exercises as a coach. Twisting your torso against the resistance of an elastic band will challenge those abdominals, and the fun part is I get to hold the resistance to create some burn through those rotations.”
And TRX squats are also a good idea, according to Castano. He told HollywoodLife, “[You should do] 20 repetitions while focusing on loading through the heels to engage hamstring and glute activation. I use the TRX as it focuses on using body weight and gravity as resistance to build strength, balance, coordination, flexibility, core and joint stability.”
Yet even though Wilson seems keen to change her own shape, she’s still promoting body positivity. That was clear from the star’s answer to a searching question in a February 2020 interview with the Australian Daily Telegraph. At the time, Wilson was asked, “How important is it for people of all body types to be represented on our screens?”
And in response, the actress said, “The beauty standards put up there, especially for young women, can be unfair at times… In the works that I do, I am trying to put those positive messages in there.” So, while Wilson may lose yet more weight, she’ll probably continue to raise up others in her movies and beyond.
But Wilson isn’t the only star to have undergone quite the transformation since she first hit our screens. Precious actress Gabourey Sidibe also looks markedly different to how she appeared in the acclaimed drama back in 2009. So, how exactly has Sidibe changed over the last decade – and what exactly does she think about the public response?
Back in 2009, Gabourey Sidibe took the world by storm when she appeared in the movie Precious. That award-winning, critically acclaimed film even won the fledgling star an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. But in the years since that achievement, Sidibe has changed quite a lot. And as we’ll find out, she’s transformed herself in more ways than one – and to jaw-dropping effect.
Sidibe has done very well for herself professionally since Precious, mind you. She’s been in a host of movies in the interim, for instance, including Yelling to the Sky, Seven Psychopaths and The Brothers Grimsby. She’s also had major roles in the popular TV shows American Horror Story and Empire. And the good news is that there are even more gigs ahead for the still-young actress.
But Sidibe had to go through a lot of pain before she ever experienced a taste of fame. Like her character in Precious, she suffered abuse as a child; her father allegedly hit her. Members of her family would also call Sidibe “Fatso” because of her weight, and, incredibly, she was put on a diet regime at the age of six.
In 2017 Sidibe spoke about how her past had affected her relationship with her dad, telling Nylon, “For a long time, my father was dead to me.” Fortunately, though, she seemed to be coming to terms with her childhood. The star went on, “The six-year-old in me is still pissed, but I don’t think I am a victim. I don’t want people to shed tears for me. [My father] beat me, but we have all been through s**t.”
And in the same interview, Sidibe revealed how she had felt judged by her appearance even after she had appeared in a hit movie. She explained, “I guess I thought that going from literally nothing to the lead in the movie would show people that I wouldn’t be just fat anymore. Or at least that’s not the first thing people would think of me – that I’m not too fat or too black or ghetto or nappy. That wouldn’t be part of my narrative anymore, but it was.”
A seasoned performer even apparently warned Sidibe away from becoming an actress in the first place. In 2012 Sidibe revealed on Watch What Happens Live that before Precious, she had run into Joan Cusack. And, unbelievably, on that occasion, Cusack had told her, “Oh honey, you should really quit the business. It’s so image-conscious.”
Furthermore, in 2010 the actress told Harper’s Bazaar that she had grown annoyed when descriptions of Precious had commented on her appearance. Pointing one such article out, she said, “Look, I am black. I’m also overweight, but that’s not the point of the story. The point is the abuse and [Precious’] bravery. This stuff happens to skinny people, to white people, to so many different people that they’ve missed the point if they say it’s about a fat girl.”
Nevertheless, Sidibe added that the post-Precious attention and acclaim she had received had “[justified] that little girl who cried because she didn’t think she could be in front of the camera.” She continued, “And it’s for other girls who feel like they can’t do this or that and feel like they’re not pretty and not worthy of having their photo taken.”
The actress went on to explain to Harper’s Bazaar, “People always ask me, ‘You have so much confidence. Where did that come from?’ It came from me. One day I decided that I was beautiful, and so I carried out my life as if I was a beautiful girl. I wear colors that I really like, I wear makeup that makes me feel pretty, and it really helps. It doesn’t have anything to do with how the world perceives you.”
Meanwhile, in a 2010 talk with Collider, the interviewer asked Sidibe, “Is it important to you to be a pioneer or make way for other plus size women?” To this, the star answered, “It’s not something I can stop myself from doing. It just comes with the body and the image and all this. When I was younger, it was important for me to see girls like me… It’s hard to think that I might be that person for someone else, but I know that it was important to me.”
Yet the Collider piece also brought up some cruel comments that Howard Stern had made about the New Yorker earlier that year. The shock jock had labeled Sidibe “the most enormous, fat black chick [he’s] ever seen,” adding, “She should have gotten the Best Actress award because she’s never going to have another shot. What movie is she gonna be in?”
Well, Sidibe had of course had the last laugh by appearing in plenty of movies and TV shows after Precious. And of those remarks, she told Collider, “Everyone makes rude comments. It’s not the first rude comment I’ve ever heard in my whole life. With people outside of my life, it doesn’t matter what they say because they have no idea what’s in my life. Other people have made rude comments, and [Stern’s] don’t mean any more than anyone else’s.”
Furthermore, when Collider told Sidibe that she seemed to have “such a positive attitude,” the actress said in response, “The positive attitude doesn’t have anything to do with the success of any movie because it’s only been nine months or so, and I’m sure I wouldn’t be this far in the industry without a positive attitude. But it’s something that I had to develop.”
And Sidibe cultivated this outlook on life even after actively battling mental illness when she was younger. The star spoke about this troubled period in her 2017 memoir This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare – as well as the difficulties that she experienced with her health and an eating disorder.
This book also included a passage that Sidibe wrote about trying to open up to her mother as a child. “When I was sad about something, [my mom] told me to ‘get a thicker skin,’” she explained. “When I was upset, she told me to ‘Stop nitpicking.’ My mom has always had faith that things would be okay, but saying ‘Tomorrow will be a better day’ wasn’t enough for me.”
The New York native continued, “When I first told [my mom that] I was depressed, she laughed at me. Literally. Not because she’s a terrible person, but because she thought it was a joke. How could I not be able to feel better on my own – like her, like her friends, like normal people? So I just kept thinking my sad thoughts – thoughts about dying.”
So, when Sidibe was in college, she experienced panic attacks. Then she developed an eating disorder. The actress added in her memoir, “Often, when I was too sad to stop crying, I drank a glass of water and ate a slice of bread, and then I threw it up. After I did, I wasn’t as sad anymore; I finally relaxed.”
“So I never ate anything until I wanted to throw up – and only when I did could I distract myself from whatever thought was swirling around my head,” Sidibe continued. Finally, though, she was able to seek professional help, after which she was told that she had both depression and bulimia. And from there, the young woman started going to therapy.
Recalling the time when she had revealed her troubles to a medical professional, Sidibe said in her book, “The doctor asked me if I wanted to kill myself. I said, ‘Meh, not yet. But when I do, I know how I’ll do it.’ I wasn’t afraid to die, and if there was a button I could’ve pushed to erase my existence from Earth, I would have pushed it because it would have been easier and less messy than offing myself. According to the doctor, that was enough.”
Now, though, the actress carefully manages her mental health. In a 2017 interview with People, she explained, “When [a situation’s] too big for me to just turn around on my own, I see a therapist. I see a therapist anyway. We all should see a therapist – if only for the hour a week that you can talk about yourself and not worry about monopolizing the conversation. F**king do it; it’s worth it!”
Regarding her bulimia, Sidibe added, “I have to eat every day. I have to eat several times a day, forever. I have a nutritionist that I really like. I haven’t felt like purposely going to throw up. For years, I have not felt that way. But if I ever do, I just have to remember to do the things that make me feel good as opposed to the things that make me feel bad.”
What’s more, the New Yorker used her memoir to speak about something on which she had previously kept quiet: weight-loss surgery. Yes, after both she and her older brother had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, Sidibe decided that it was time for a procedure. This had essentially been the last resort, however, as for over ten years she had tried to lose weight.
In This Is Just My Face: Try Not To Stare, Sidibe wrote, “My surgeon said they’d cut my stomach in half. This would limit my hunger and capacity to eat. My brain chemistry would change, and I’d want to eat healthier. I’ll take it! My lifelong relationship with food had to change.”
And before long, Sidibe found herself shedding the pounds. Nearly a year after the operation, she explained in her 2017 chat with People, “I have a goal right now, and I’m almost there. And then once I’ve got it, I’ll set another. But my starting weight and my goal weight – they’re personal. If too many people are involved, I’ll shut down.”
Plus, as the actress wrote in her book, the decision to go under the knife was made for health reasons rather than aesthetic ones. She explained, “It has taken me years to realize that what I was born with is all beautiful. I did not get this surgery to be beautiful. I did it so I can walk around comfortably in heels. I want to do a cartwheel. I want not to be in pain every time I walk up a flight of stairs.”
Sidibe went on, “I know I’m beautiful in my current face and my current body. What I don’t know about is the next body. I admit it; I hope to God I don’t get skinny. If I could lose enough to just be a little chubby, I’ll be over the moon! Will I still be beautiful then? S**t. Probably. My beauty doesn’t come from a mirror. It never will.”
Sidibe’s body positivity has won her plenty of praise, too – as well as many compliments on Instagram. However, she’s actually not that keen on people congratulating her for losing weight, as she revealed in a 2017 interview with Refinery29.
Sidibe explained, “What had been happening is, since I’ve been losing weight over the past year, people have been saying, ‘Congratulations on your weight loss!’ It doesn’t rock me. It just annoys me because I’m just, like, ‘Don’t congratulate me on that.’” And the New Yorker appeared to infer that the weight loss wasn’t anyone’s business but hers.
As Sidibe went on to explain to Refinery29, “If you’re going to congratulate me on my weight loss, also congratulate me every time I pee. Congratulate me every time I’m burping. Because my body actually has nothing to do with you, and I don’t really need your support for it. It seems ill-placed. I don’t need your support.”
Sidibe added, “The worst thing about Twitter is that everyone thinks their opinion is really important, and you’re 100 percent free to say something about it. I have to know myself, and I have to know my own boundaries and take in what I need. And what I don’t need, I don’t take in. That’s how it’s gotta be with my body.”
So, Refinery29 asked Sidibe, “What advice would you give to your younger self about how to respond when people make comments about your body?” And she gave a long answer, saying at the end, “I think the best advice I can give her… is to ‘Just hold on, baby girl. You’re okay. There’s something on the other side. You listen to yourself when someone is making fun of you. Listen to yourself when someone is telling you what kind of clothes you wear on your body.’”
Later on in the interview, Sidibe revealed, “I think what really pushed me to think differently is just exhaustion. Exhaustion from feeling bad that somebody else thought I was too fat or thought I was too black. I was exhausted with how other people felt about me, and that’s what helped me change. I really sat down and made a list of all the things I liked about me: my personality, my face, my body.” But that’s not all.
“The world will hand me a hate list. And I just sat down, and I developed a love list for myself,” the star went on. “And I tell people of all ages to do that. You have to list the things you love about yourself. So when someone says your nose is too big, you can say my nose is cute. It’s like a button, and it’s sickening.”
Meanwhile, in September 2018, Sidibe appeared at an event called theCURVYcon. And while there, she revealed that there had been a time when designers hadn’t given her clothes because she was “too fat” – even before the edition of the Cannes Film Festival when Precious was being screened. Sidibe added, “Even though we are moving towards more visibility for plus-size people, there is a lot of pushback. So it’s important to keep fighting and to keep being visible until the conversation changes.”
At theCURVYcon, Sidibe also revealed that at one point she’d run into none other than Beyoncé. And according to the actress, the superstar singer had told her, “I’m really excited for you and really proud of everything you’re doing.” Perhaps surprisingly, though, Sidibe had felt unable to truly accept the well-intentioned compliment.
Sidibe explained, “I struggle with accepting love, with accepting praise [and] with accepting help.” But she was also beginning to consider the concept that “love comes in many forms.” The star went on, “I’m trying to be open and open and open, because the more love that I accept, the more love we get.”
The New Yorker has also continued her journey to better health by exercising more and eating carefully – taking part in “meatless Mondays,” for example, as well as working out with a personal trainer. And this regime has seemingly led to yet more weight loss if the selfies that she posts to her Instagram page are anything to go by.
What’s more, a number of Sidibe’s 1.5 million Instagram followers often comment positively on those photos. In October 2019, for example, the actress posted a picture of herself looking stunning alongside the jokey comment, “So sorry to hear of your great-granddaddy’s passing… Might I have a copy of the certificate? I need it for the policy I took out on him…”
Many of the responses to that photo spoke not just about Sidibe’s slimmer body, but also about her as a person. One read, “I absolutely love that you are sooo unapologetically YOU.” Another commenter touchingly said, “After watching your performance in Precious, I was inspired by you to obtain my GED and enroll in school. You changed my life forever!”
And, of course, Sidibe’s development as an actress has also been fantastic to watch. Naturally, she has more projects in the pipeline, too, including horror film Antebellum in 2020. Perhaps, though, her work as a force for body positivity is even more remarkable. Indeed, at theCURVYcon she commented, “I’m not my body. I’m a whole person” – and amen to that.