Senior Editor
02.09.10 40 Comments

Aw, this is like those Slumdog kids all over again.  It turns out that despite her daughter’s Oscar nomination, Gabourey Sidibe’s poor mom still has to sing in the subway for spare change like a common hobo.

Alice Tan Ridley shows up three times a week at New York’s busiest subway stations to wow commuters with her electrifying R&B act. “My name is not on Gabby’s paycheck,” the good-natured Ridley told The Post yesterday.  Ridley, a former nursery-school teacher and Department of Education teacher’s aide, has been belting out tunes in the subway for 18 years. “For a while, I was teaching and doing the singing, burning the candle at both ends to support my family,” Ridley said.

Until… she became bedridden and couldn’t work?  Got fired for refusing the advances of a superior?  Racism?

She eventually made subway singing a full-time job. “When I come home at the end of the day, I have enough to pay my bills and feed my kids,” she said.  Her singing helped pave the way for her daughter’s breakout in “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire.”

“Four years ago, they asked me to play the part of the mother,” Ridley said. “But being a mom and teacher, I just couldn’t play that part. It was just too hard.  I read the book, and I gave it to Gabby. Her friends encouraged her to try out for ‘Precious,’ and she got it.” [NYPost]

Time out: You have a spiritually-fulfilling job that pays your bills and allows you to spend time with your family, and out of the blue someone offered you a part in an Oscar-winning movie?  Jeez, you’re never going to reach an audience of rich white people with a story like that.  Can’t you look sad or something?

Much better.

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