Octavia Spencer

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Octavia Spencer
"Hidden Figures" Screening at the White House (NHQ201612150008) (cropped).jpg
Spencer at the White House in 2016
Born Octavia Lenora Spencer
(1972-05-25) May 25, 1972 (age 46)
Montgomery, Alabama, U.S.
Other names Octavia L. Spencer
Alma mater Auburn University
Occupation Actress, author
Years active 1996–present
Awards Full list

Octavia Lenora Spencer (born May 25, 1972)[1] is an American actress and author. She is the recipient of several accolades, including an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, and a Golden Globe Award. She is one of two black actresses to have received three Academy Award nominations and is the only black actress to receive two consecutive nominations.[2]

Spencer made her film debut in the 1996 drama A Time to Kill. Following a decade of brief roles in film and television, her breakthrough came in 2011, when she played a maid in 1960s America in The Help, for which she won several awards, including the Academy Award, Golden Globe, and BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress. For her performance in Ryan Coogler's drama Fruitvale Station (2013), she received the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Spencer went on to appear in such films as Smashed (2012), Snowpiercer (2013), Get on Up (2014), The Divergent Series (2015–2016), and Gifted (2017). She received Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress for playing two more women in 1960s America, the mathematician Dorothy Vaughan in the biographical drama film Hidden Figures (2016) and a cleaning woman in the romantic dark fantasy film The Shape of Water (2017).

As an author, Spencer has started a children's book series titled Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective. She has published two books in the series, titled The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit (2013) and The Sweetest Heist in History (2015).[3]

Early life[edit]

Octavia Lenora Spencer[4] was born in Montgomery, Alabama, and has six siblings, including sisters Rosa and Areka.[5] Her mother, Dellsena Spencer (1945-1988),[6] worked as a maid.[7] Her father died when she was thirteen.[8] Spencer graduated from Jefferson Davis High School in 1988.[9] She studied at Auburn University at Montgomery,[10] and graduated from Auburn University, where she majored in English with a double minor in journalism and theater.[11] Spencer has dyslexia.[12]

Career[edit]

Spencer worked as an intern on the set of The Long Walk Home, a film starring Whoopi Goldberg.[13] In 1997 she moved to Los Angeles on the advice of her friend Tate Taylor, the future director of The Help, in which Spencer would later star.[14]

Spencer made her film debut as a nurse in Joel Schumacher's A Time to Kill, based on the book by John Grisham. She was originally hired to work on casting, but asked Schumacher if she could audition for a part.[15] Other film credits include: Never Been Kissed, Big Momma's House, Bad Santa, Spider-Man, Coach Carter, Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! and Pretty Ugly People. She has made a number of guest appearances on television series, including Raising the Bar, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The Big Bang Theory, Wizards of Waverly Place, Grounded for Life, ER, Titus, Becker, 30 Rock and Dharma & Greg, plus a recurring role on Mom. She is best known for her starring roles as Serenity Johnson on Comedy Central's Halfway Home, and Constance Grady, the amorous INS caseworker on Ugly Betty.

In 2003, Spencer made her stage debut in Los Angeles, in Del Shores' play, The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife, starring opposite veteran actress Beth Grant. It was her first and only play, as, she once explained, she suffers from what she called "intense stage fright".[16] Later that year, she starred opposite Allison Janney in Tate Taylor's short feature Chicken Party.

The Help cast at 18th Screen Actors Guild Awards (Spencer in the middle)

In 2008, Spencer's brief appearance in Seven Pounds as Kate, Rosario Dawson's home care nurse, garnered her high praise and media attention.[17] In April 2009, Entertainment Weekly listed Spencer as among its "25 Funniest Actresses in Hollywood."[18]

In August 2009, Spencer appeared in Rob Zombie's Halloween II. She also had a role in the American remake of the Danish classic Love at First Hiccup, opposite Scout Taylor-Compton. Spencer starred in the feature film Herpes Boy, alongside Beth Grant, Ahna O'Reilly and Byron Lane. She played the voice of "Minny" on the audio version of novel The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. Later that year, Spencer's short film The Captain was honored by the CICFF as a finalist for the REEL Poetry Award.

In August 2010, Spencer joined Viola Davis, Emma Stone and Bryce Dallas Howard in The Help, an adaptation of the novel. She played the feisty and unflappable Minny Jackson. The film was written, produced and directed by Tate Taylor, and produced by Brunson Green, Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan, and Mark Radcliffe. She won the 2012 Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture for her work in The Help.[19] On February 12, 2012, Spencer won a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress for her Performance in The Help, and on February 26 she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the same performance; it was her first Oscar nomination and first win. Spencer was given a standing ovation at the ceremony, and was moved to tears during her acceptance speech. In June 2012, Spencer was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[20]

In 2013, she appeared alongside Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvale Station, a film chronicling the last day of Oscar Grant, who was killed at a Bay Area Rapid Transit station in 2009.[21]

In September 2013, it was announced that she would reunite with The Help director Tate Taylor in the biopic on singer James Brown Get On Up, opposite her The Help co-star Viola Davis. The film was released in 2014.[22] From September 2014 until February 2015, she starred in Steven Spielberg's Fox drama television series Red Band Society.[23]

Spencer co-starred alongside Kevin Costner in the drama film Black or White (2014)[24] and co-starred as Johanna Reyes in the second installment of the Divergent series, The Divergent Series: Insurgent (2015).[25] She reprised the role in The Divergent Series: Allegiant (2016). She voiced an otter, Mrs. Otterton, in Disney's Zootopia, which marks her first animated film.

Spencer at the Hidden Figures premiere in 2016

In 2016, she starred alongside Taraji P. Henson and Janelle Monáe in Hidden Figures, a film about African-American mathematicians at NASA who were critical to its success in the 1960s in the Space Race, and who each had careers there. She played mathematician and human computer Dorothy Vaughan. The role garnered her a Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award for her performance and earned Spencer a second nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, making her the only black actress to follow up an Oscar victory with another nomination, having previously won for The Help.[2] In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Spencer bought out a Los Angeles screening of Hidden Figures to treat low-income families that would have been unable to afford to see the film otherwise.[26]

In 2017, Spencer co-starred with Sally Hawkins in Guillermo del Toro's fantasy drama film The Shape of Water, which follows a mute custodian at a high-security government laboratory who befriends a captured humanoid-amphibian creature. The film was screened in the main competition section of the 74th Venice International Film Festival, where it premiered to positive reviews on August 31, 2017,[27] and was awarded the Golden Lion for best film in the competition.[28] It also screened at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.[29] Spencer earned Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominations for her portrayal, while receiving her third Academy Award nomination in the Best Supporting Actress category, making her the first black actress to receive two consecutive Oscar nods in back-to-back years as well as the most nominated black actress to date, along with The Help co-star Viola Davis.[2]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Director(s) Notes
1996 A Time to Kill Roark's Nurse Joel Schumacher
1997 The 6th Man Nativity Watson Randall Miller
1997 Sparkler Wanda
1999 Never Been Kissed Cynthia Raja Gosnell
1999 Being John Malkovich Woman in Elevator Spike Jonze
1999 Blue Streak Shawna Les Mayfield
2000 The Sky Is Falling Nurse No. 2 Florrie Laurence
2000 Everything Put Together Nurse B Marc Forster
2000 American Virgin Agnes Large Jean-Pierre Marois
2000 What Planet Are You From? Baby Nurse Mike Nichols
2000 Auto Motives Rhonda
2000 Big Momma's House Twila Raja Gosnell
2000 Four Dogs Playing Poker Waitress Paul Rachman
2001 Sol Goode Unemployment Clerk Danny Comden
2001 The Journeyman Black Belly
2002 Spider-Man Check-In Girl Sam Raimi
2003 Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde Security Guard Charles Herman-Wurmfeld
2003 S.W.A.T. Neighbor in Alley Clark Johnson
2003 Chicken Party Laqueta Mills Tate Taylor
2003 Bad Santa Opal Terry Zwigoff
2004 Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! Janine Robert Luketic
2004 Breakin' All the Rules Stylist Daniel Taplitz
2005 Coach Carter Mrs. Battle Thomas Carter
2005 Pretty Persuasion Woman Marcos Siega
2005 Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom
Dancing and Charm School
Ayisha Lebaron Randall Miller
2005 Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous Octavia – Bookstore John Pasquin
2005 Beauty Shop Big Customer Bille Woodruff
2005 Wannabe Lady Chanet Janney Jones
2006 Pulse Landlady Jim Sonzero
2007 The Nines Streetwalker
2008 Next of Kin Grace
2008 Pretty Ugly People Mary Tate Taylor
2008 The Spleenectomy Nurse
2008 Seven Pounds Kate (Home Health Care Nurse) Gabriele Muccino
2009 The First Time (Love At First Hiccup) Mrs. Hambrick Barbara Topsøe-Rothenborg
2009 Drag Me to Hell Bank Co-Worker No. 1 Sam Raimi
2009 Jesus People: The Movie Angel Angelique
2009 The Soloist Troubled Woman Joe Wright
2009 Just Peck Detention Room Teacher Michael A. Nickles
2009 Halloween II Nurse Daniels Rob Zombie
2009 Herpes Boy Rochelle
2009 Small Town Saturday Night Rhonda Dooley Ryan Craig
2010 Dinner for Schmucks Madame Nora Jay Roach
2011 The Help Minny Jackson Tate Taylor Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
2011 Peep World Allison Barry W. Blaustein
2011 Flypaper Madge Wiggins Rob Minkoff
2012 Blues for Willadean LaSonia Robinson Del Shores
2012 Smashed Jenny James Ponsoldt
2013 Fruitvale Station Wanda Ryan Coogler Also co-executive producer
2013 Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters Martha Thor Freudenthal Voice
2013 Snowpiercer Tanya Bong Joon-ho
2013 Paradise Loray Diablo Cody
2014 Get On Up Aunt Honey Washington Tate Taylor
2015 The Great Gilly Hopkins Miss Harris Stephen Herek
2015 Black or White Rowena Jeffers Mike Binder
2015 The Divergent Series: Insurgent Johanna Reyes Robert Schwentke
2015 Fathers and Daughters Dr. Korman Gabriele Muccino
2016 Zootopia Mrs. Otterton Byron Howard & Rich Moore Voice
2016 The Divergent Series: Allegiant Johanna Reyes Robert Schwentke
2016 The Free World Linda Workman Jason Lew
2016 Bad Santa 2 Opal Mark Waters
2016 Hidden Figures Dorothy Vaughan Theodore Melfi Nominated–Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
2017 The Shack Papa Stuart Hazeldine
2017 Small Town Crime Kelly Banks Eshom Nelms & Ian Nelms Also executive producer
2017 Gifted Roberta Taylor Marc Webb
2017 The Shape of Water Zelda Fuller Guillermo del Toro Nominated–Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
2018 A Kid Like Jake Judith "Judy" Lawson Silas Howard
2018 Instant Family Sean Anders In post-production
2019 The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle Dab-Dab (voice) Stephen Gaghan Filming
2019 Luce Julius Onah In post-production
2019 Ma Tate Taylor In post-production

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1997 413 Hope St. Job Counselor #1 Episode: "Pilot"
1998 Moesha Gloria Episode: "Teacher"
1998 To Have & to Hold Clerk Episode: "Right My Fire"
1998 ER Maria Jones Episode: "Hazed and Confused"
1999 Brimstone Duty Nurse Episode: "Faces"
1999 Lansky Evelyn the Maid TV movie
1999 L.A. Doctors Bus Driver Episode: "Forty-Eight Minutes"
1999 Chicago Hope Nurse Jane Episode: "Oh What a Piece of Work Is Man"
1999 Roswell Nurse Episode: "Leaving Normal"
1999 The X-Files Nurse Octavia Episode: "Millennium"
2000 Missing Pieces Elegant Guest TV movie
2000 Just Shoot Me! Nurse Episode: "Finch on Ice"
2000 Becker Ticket Woman Episode: "One Wong Move"
2000 Malcolm in the Middle Cashier Episode: "High School Play"
2000 City of Angels Nurse Bernice 5 episodes
2001 Grounded for Life Admitting Nurse Episode: "Jimmy's Got a Gun"
2001 Follow the Stars Home Hildy TV movie
2001 Dharma & Greg Gloria Episode: "Wish We Weren't Here"
2001–2002 The Chronicle Ruby Rydell 6 episodes
2001–2002 Titus Ms. Alice Hays 2 episodes
2002 Little John Waitress TV movie
2002 Presidio Med Sheryl Washington Episode: "Do No Harm"
2002–2005 NYPD Blue Dawna Cahill / Eleanor Jackson 2 episodes
2004–2005 LAX Flight Attendant 6 episodes
2005 CSI: NY Child Welfare Rep Episode: "On the Job"
2005 Medium Jurist Episode: "Judge, Jury and Executioner"
2006 Huff Demetria Episode: "Red Meat"
2006 Standoff Rapid Air Clerk Episode: "Pilot"
2006–2007 The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman Cheryl / Female Security Guard 4 episodes
2007 Ugly Betty Constance Grady 4 episodes
2007 Halfway Home Serenity Johnson 10 episodes
2008 Wizards of Waverly Place Dr. Evilini 2 episodes
2008 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Sherry Episode: "Drops' Out"
2008 The Big Bang Theory DMV Employee Episode: "The Euclid Alternative"
2009 Worst Week Nurse Episode: "The Epidural"
2009 Dollhouse Professor Jackie Episode: "Echoes"
2009 Raising the Bar Arvina Watkins 5 episodes
2010 Hawthorne Emily Thomkins Episode: "Afterglow"
2013 30 Rock Herself Episode: "Game Over"
2013 American Dad! Shonteeva (voice) Episode: "For Black Eyes Only"
2013 Call Me Crazy: A Five Film Dr. Nance TV movie
2013–2015 Mom Regina Recurring; 9 episodes
2014–2015 Red Band Society Nurse Dena Jackson Main role; 13 episodes
2015 Drunk History Harriet Tubman Episode: "Spies"
2017 Saturday Night Live Herself (host) Episode: "Octavia Spencer/Father John Misty"

Awards and nominations[edit]

Spencer has received three nominations for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, including one win. She is the first black actress to receive two consecutive Academy Award nominations in back-to-back years, the first black actress to receive two Academy Award nominations after a win, and is tied with Viola Davis as the most nominated black actress to date.[2]

She has also won three Screen Actors Guild Awards, three National Board of Review Awards, two Satellite Awards, two Critics' Choice Movie Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and a BAFTA Award.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Octavia Spencer Biography: Film Actress, Television Actress (1972–)". Biography.com (FYI / A&E Networks). Archived from the original on August 11, 2016. Retrieved January 16, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d Nolfi, Joey (2018-01-23). "Oscars: Octavia Spencer makes history with The Shape of Water nomination". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2018-01-23. 
  3. ^ "Octavia Spencer's first book, 'Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective". USA Today. January 2013. Retrieved February 21, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Octavia Spencer before she was a star". Montgomery/Dothan, Alabama: WSFA. February 26, 2012. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved January 16, 2017. 
  5. ^ Shanahan, Mark; Goldstein, Meredith (January 17, 2012). "Areka Spencer Thrilled for Sister". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on September 25, 2017. Retrieved February 2, 2015. 
  6. ^ Public Record of Dellsena Spencer retrieved 2/21/2015
  7. ^ Calkin, Jessamy (July 16, 2009). "The maid's tale: Kathryn Stockett examines slavery and racism in America's Deep South". The Daily Telegraph. London. 
  8. ^ https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/octavia-spencer-interview-the-help-star-on-winning-an-oscar-and-becoming-james-browns-aunt-9846374.html
  9. ^ "Local News - The Montgomery Advertiser - montgomeryadvertiser.com". February 21, 2015. Archived from the original on February 21, 2015. 
  10. ^ Carlton, Bob (August 7, 2011). "Montgomery actress Octavia Spencer may become a star with The Help". The Birmingham News. Retrieved February 28, 2012. 
  11. ^ Greene, Teri (August 14, 2011). "Montgomery native stars in 'The Help'". Retrieved July 8, 2012. 
  12. ^ "Chris Evans, Octavia Spencer and Mckenna Grace open up about 'Gifted'" (Video). Good Morning America. April 6, 2017. Retrieved April 8, 2017 – via Youtube. 
  13. ^ Dreier, Peter (February 27, 2012). "Will The Help's Oscar Revive Interest in The Long Walk Home?". Huffington Post. Retrieved May 25, 2012. 
  14. ^ Onstad, Katrina (2016-11-03). "Octavia Spencer Cracks a Few Hollywood Equations". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-04-03. 
  15. ^ Riley, Jenelle (April 5, 2005). "Octavia Spencer: The Quip Queen". allbusiness.com. Retrieved August 8, 2011. 
  16. ^ Riley, Jenelle (August 8, 2011). "How Octavia Spencer Landed the Role of a Lifetime". Backstage. Archived from the original on March 16, 2016. Retrieved August 8, 2011. 
  17. ^ Rosen, Lisa (February 4, 2009). "Big impressions in brief roles". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 27, 2011. 
  18. ^ "Octavia Spencer – The 25 Funniest Actresses in Hollywood". Entertainment Weekly. 13 April 2009. Retrieved June 27, 2011. 
  19. ^ "Could Viola Davis, Emma Stone & Octavia Spencer Get Oscar Nods for 'The Help'?" from iVillage website
  20. ^ Thompson, Arienne (June 29, 2012). "McConaughey, Spencer invited to join Academy". USA Today. Retrieved July 19, 2013. 
  21. ^ Kit, Borys (April 17, 2012). "Oscar Winner Octavia Spencer to Star in Movie About Controversial Police Killing (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 19, 2013. 
  22. ^ "Tate Taylor Reunites With 'The Help's Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer On James Brown Pic". Deadline. September 30, 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2013. 
  23. ^ Chris Harnick. "Red Band Society Stars Octavia Spencer and Dave Annable on Looking for Life and Laughs in Sickness and Tragedy". E Oline. Retrieved 18 September 2014. 
  24. ^ "Octavia Spencer Will Battle Kevin Costner For Custody In Drama 'Black And White'". indiewire.com. 8 May 2013. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  25. ^ "CASTING NEWS: Octavia Spencer To Play Johanna In 'Insurgent'". Archived from the original on November 13, 2014. Retrieved September 18, 2014. 
  26. ^ "'Hidden Figures' Stars Octavia Spencer & Taraji P. Henson Share the Love After Another Big Box Office Weekend". Entertainment Tonight. Retrieved 2017-04-03. 
  27. ^ Anderson, Ariston (July 27, 2017). "Venice Competition Includes Films From George Clooney, Guillermo del Toro, Darren Aronofsky". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 27, 2017. 
  28. ^ "Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water wins Venice Golden Lion". The Guardian. Retrieved September 9, 2017. 
  29. ^ "Toronto Film Festival 2017 Unveils Strong Slate". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved July 25, 2017. 

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