updated 02/01/2012 AT 4:00 PM ET
•originally published 02/01/2012 AT 5:30 PM ET
Oscar nominee Octavia Spencer says she’s often found it hard to breathe on the red carpet of awards shows this season, and it’s not just because she’s racking up the accolades for her supporting role in The Help.
Spencer, 41, says she’s taken to reinforcing her red carpet attire with Spanx – and doesn’t always stop at one pair.
“It’s wonderful because it gives you the illusion of an hourglass with the sand kind of spread out,” she added.
But Spencer has found herself in good company. At one recent awards show, she said, she bonded with her close friend (and supporting actress competitor) Melissa McCarthy over their shared discomfort.
“I could not party that night because I was being pinched in places that I didn’t know it was possible,” Spencer lamented to Ellen. “I said, ‘Oh my God, Melissa, I’m about to die. My Spanx are killing me. She said, ‘I just went to the bathroom and took mine off.’ ”
The Golden Globe winner isn’t always so buckled up, though. When Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, Spencer said she ran down the street in only her underwear after losing a bet to The Help director Tate Taylor.
“I totally did not think that America was ready for an African-American president,” she admitted. “And, flapping my big mouth, I said, ‘Tate, if America elects a black man to president, I will run down the street naked.’ But I did it on my own way. I wore basically my underwear, bra and panties. And Uggs, because it was November.”
Taylor also added a last-minute condition to the bet, according to Spencer.
“He said, ‘Well, if you’re not going to do it naked you have to scream, ‘A black man has been elected to the White House!’,” Spencer told DeGeneres. “So I ran down the street screaming, and all of our neighbors came out. It was so embarrassing.”