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Rebel Wilson Says Her Size Is an Advantage

On June 28, Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones took to Twitter to bemoan Hollywood’s and fashion’s inherent sizeism. Four days later, in an interview with The Telegraph, comedy darling Rebel Wilson said she “saw [her] size as being an advantage, whereas so many women see it as a disadvantage.”

The Los Angeles-based actress is currently in London, where she’s making her West End debut in Guys and Dolls. It’s only in the past five years that Wilson’s career’s really taken off, thanks to her role as uncensored, hypersexualized a cappella aficionado Fat Amy in the Pitch Perfect franchise (a follow-up to her minor but unforgettable role in Bridemaids).

The business-savvy blonde told The Telegraph she realized weight could be her “thing,” so to speak, when a curvy costar in a play Wilson herself had written had an easy time stealing the show: “And 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’. 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.”

Wilson, who enjoys playing tennis and once maintained an athletic build, took advantage of a hormonal imbalance that causes her to gain weight rapidly: “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 no, this isn’t a fantastic claim she’s made up.)

Of course, weight isn’t the only thing that gives the comic genius an edge. “I think a lot of the reason I get hired is because they know I’m going to embellish the script,” Wilson said. “And I kind of think in Hollywood, if you don’t have that ability, you’re not going to last too long in comedies. You can be a dramatic actor, fine – it’s not like you’re going to be improvising: ‘Oh my god, I killed my son’. But in comedies, if you’re not adding, you’re probably going to be a bit forgotten, in the edit.” 

While, thanks to Wilson’s mastery of deadpan humor, it’s hard to tell if she meant her remarks about gaining weight to be taken entirely seriously, her partial theory of her success does highlight a larger issue in Hollywood. Overweight actors and actresses are pigeonholed in the comedy genre because it’s assumed audiences would rather laugh at these individuals than see them as a dramatic or romantic lead, which can lead hopefuls to make unhealthy choices about their diet and workout regimen. (It’s rumored that Wilson was contractually obligated to maintain her weight for Pitch Perfect 2.)

Rebel, true to her name, isn’t sitting back and letting industry standards dictate the course of her career. (Will she manipulate them to her advantage? Yes. Let them get between her and an Oscar? No.) The native Australian has founded her own production company, with three projects due to start filming next year. “I have to transition into drama,” Rebel stated, “because I can’t f—ing win an Oscar for Pitch Perfect 3, can I?” While Wilson shouldn’t have to go to such lengths to score dramatic roles, seizing the production reigns is a savvy move towards systematic change.

[ via The Telegraph ]