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Gabourey Sidibe worked for phone sex company

Gabourey Sidibe honed her acting skills at a phone sex company before she made it in Hollywood.

The Empire star worked at the company for three years before landing her breakout role in 2009's Precious, and insists the unconventional gig helped her prepare for her career.

"I was actually pretty good at it," she tells People magazine. "I did it for two months before I was promoted."

"I knew that when people were asking me, 'So have you had any acting training?' my acting school was on the phone, pretending to be some super-young 21-year-old college girl named Melody," she adds. "I know that was my acting! But I felt too stupid to say it."

However, after landing her role in the critically-acclaimed film and being nominated for an Oscar, she worried her previous career choice would surface and producers wouldn't take her seriously.

"I was really nervous about it when I was 25," she reveals. "I was really, really nervous about it when Precious was coming out (and through) the whole Oscar run, all of it. I was becoming an actor, becoming a person that people were interested in and looking at and judging, so I didn't want what I did for work (to come out)."

However, she insists she is not ashamed of working in the industry.

"I wasn't just some phone whore," she adds. "Remember when (screenwriter) Diablo Cody's Juno was coming out, and people were like, 'She's an ex-stripper?' Yeah, but she wrote this dope (good) film. Can you not? Because that's just one part of her life."

The 33-year-old left her job at the phone sex company almost 10 years ago, but her past recently resurfaced.

"The last photo shoot for my book (This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare) was in the same office building that I did phone sex for three years in," she says. "It's so crazy! My editor came in, and I was like, 'You're not going to believe it: We're on the third floor, but the office was on the 10th floor!' So we went to the 10th floor to see how it changed. The place went out of business the second I wasn't there anymore. It was so weird; all of my senses came alive. I could smell the HR room, the coffee over there... The last thing I did for the book was go right back to where I was a f**king phone hoe!"