Gabourey Sidibe Says She's Tired of Scripts That Label Her 'Hippo' or 'Elephant:' 'This Is My Body'

"I get a lot of scripts and offers where someone has to make mention of my body immediately," she said at Glamour's Powered by Women initiative panel at SXSW

Gabourey Sidibe is tired of everyone focusing on her figure — especially screenwriters.

The 33-year-old, who underwent weight-loss surgery, opened up about navigating her successful acting career with her figure, and her frustration with receiving scripts that focus on her body.

“I get a lot of scripts and offers where someone has to make mention of my body immediately. Someone wrote a script with me in mind and the first time someone other than my character was talking about my character, they say ‘this hippo’ or ‘this elephant,’ ” the Empire star lamented at Glamour‘s Powered by Women initiative panel, “The Female Lens: Creating Change Beyond the Bubble,” at SXSW on Saturday.

“I’m like, ‘Are you serious? You wrote something for me and you’re calling me a hippo.’ This is my body. This has been my body my entire life, and in my life my friends and my colleagues are not constantly talking about my body. But in most of my roles, somebody has to make mention of it.”

Sidibe, who shot to fame following her Oscar-nominated performance in 2009’s Precious, also opened up about her experience with weight-loss surgery — and her battle with depression, anxiety and bulimia — in her new memoir, This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare.

For more on Gabourey Sidibe and an exclusive excerpt from her book This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now


She praised the writers behind Empire and Difficult People for not focusing on her figure. However, Sidibe said her body isn’t the only element about her that comes into play when reviewing scripts.

“I have had to read plenty of lines and words for my black a– that was written by a white man,” Sidibe said. “Not to say that it is not good. There is a lot that you don’t know, really. Depending on the work, I have had to check the honesty and cater it to me as a black woman. It is the actor’s job to honesty-check it.”

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Sidibe added that she is not afraid to call writers out if their scripts don’t pass her “honesty check.”

“Yes, I will pull out my black card and slap someone in the face with it,” she said.

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