Among the many risks the writers and producers American Horror Story have taken was their decision to cast Oscar winner Kathy Bates as an anachronistic, unrepentant racist — Delphine LaLaurie — who lost her head (figuratively and literally) when confronted with black witches in present-day New Orleans.
Gabourey Sidibe, who plays Queenie on the show, chatted with BuzzFeed about Kathy, the bigot that is LaLaurie, and the kudos the show deserves for tackling the issue of race.
"[Kathy’s] so wonderful and she understands how awful her character is. She totally gets it, but she's also very unwavering when it comes to playing her," Gabourey reveals. "Between the time the director says, 'Action,' and 'Cut,' she is very much on LaLaurie's side and she's very much LaLaurie. But [then] she gets so concerned, and she wants to know if I'm offended by anything. She is so sweet. She's like, 'I hope people don't think I'm really like this. I hope people don't think that I really feel this way.'"
And in dealing such a loaded subject matter, sensitivity is paramount: "There's an on-set writer, John Gray, who is wonderful and he's always there for any questions we have, for any discussions we want to have. Like, if there's something we don't quite understand or if there's something that we are, in fact, offended by, he's right there. We talk about everything and we have just as many questions as the audience does."
In the end, Gabourey seems grateful that AHS is tackling it, no matter how thorny or touchy it may be.
"With The Butler and with 12 Years A Slave, there's a lot of talk about slavery. Why can't we just get past it? Why do we still have to watch movies about slavery? Slavery doesn't exist anymore, so racism doesn't exist anymore. That isn't true. I just want people to get more of an education without thinking, Why do we need this? We need this because our yesterday affects our tomorrow."