Sidibe's road to Precious is one even she hasn't totally wrapped her head around. "I cut school, kind of on autopilot, to go to the audition, and within an hour of the audition, I got a call for the callback. And within half an hour of the callback, I got a call saying the director [Lee Daniels] wanted to meet with me. We met the next day, and he offered me the part," she says. "I started to cry—I guess as anyone would. I don't think I wanted the part until I had it, because it hadn't entered my mind. I didn't believe it until I was on set. I'm always looking for the other shoe to drop, so I certainly couldn't believe it until I was actually there."

Perhaps more unbelievable, though, is how incredibly believable Sidibe is as the down-and-out, illiterate 16-year-old. Upon hearing her real-life high-pitched voice and friendly giggle, viewers will likely find themselves triple-checking that this seemingly happy-go-lucky, self-assured 26-year-old is in fact the woman behind the mumbling, defeated Precious Jones. Though Sidibe says she hardly sees herself in her character, she had plenty of individuals to look to for inspiration. "I knew her. She's so familiar to me. I recognize her in friends that I've had, and family members, and people I didn't want to know and people I used to be friends with," Sidibe says. "She doesn't have the greatest self-esteem, and that was certainly me at 16. But who does have a great sense of self at 16?"


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