|Born||Octavia Lenora Spencer
May 25, 1970
Montgomery, Alabama, U.S.
|Alma mater||Auburn University|
Octavia Lenora Spencer (born May 25, 1970) is an American actress. She is best known for her role as Minny, the outspoken maid in the 2011 film The Help, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and the BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress, among other accolades, including the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role.
Early life and education
Born in Montgomery, Alabama, she is the sixth of seven children. Her mother worked as a maid. Spencer graduated from Jefferson Davis High School in 1988, spent two years at Auburn Montgomery studying drama (1988–89), and received a bachelor's degree in Liberal Arts from Auburn University.
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 small part. 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 and Dharma & Greg. 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, she 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 told Back Stage Magazine that she suffers from "stage fright." Later that year, she starred opposite Allison Janney in Tate Taylor's critically lauded short feature, Chicken Party.
In 2008, Spencer's brief appearance in Seven Pounds as Kate, Rosario Dawson's home care nurse, garnered her high praise and media attention. In April 2009, Entertainment Weekly listed Spencer in its list of 25 Funniest Actresses in Hollywood. 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 hit web series-turned feature film Herpes Boy alongside Beth Grant, Ahna O'Reilly, and Byron Lane; and, can be heard as the voice of "Minny" on the audio version of The Help, the "New York Times Best Seller" by Kathryn Stockett. Later that year, Spencer's short film The Captain was honored by the CICFF as a finalist for the coveted REEL Poetry Award.
In August 2010, Spencer joined Viola Davis, Emma Stone and Bryce Dallas Howard in DreamWorks' production of The Help, in which she played the feisty and unflappable domestic Minny Jackson. The film was directed by Tate Taylor, and produced by Brunson Green, Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan, and Mark Radcliffe. Her role garnered her critical acclaim, and started talk of various awards nominations. She won the 2012 Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture for her work in The Help.
On February 12, 2012, she 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; making it her first Oscar nomination and first win. Spencer was so thrilled to win that she could hardly speak at the ceremony and was given a standing ovation 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.
In September 2013, it was announced that she would reunite with The Help director Tate Taylor in a biopic on singer James Brown. The film Get On Up was released in 2014. In January 2014, it was announced that plans for Spencer to appear as the lead in a remake of Murder, She Wrote had been cancelled. Spencer is set to play the supporting role of Johanna Reyes in the second installment of the Divergent series, titled The Divergent Series: Insurgent, which is scheduled to release on 20 March 2015.
- List of actors who won the Academy, BAFTA, Golden Globe, SAG, and Critic's Choice Award for a single performance
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- Calkin, Jessamy (July 16, 2009). "The maid's tale: Kathryn Stockett examines slavery and racism in America's Deep South". The Daily Telegraph (London).
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- Carlton, Bob (August 7, 2011). "Montgomery actress Octavia Spencer may become a star with The Help". The Birmingham News. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
- "Octavia Spencer". comedy central.
- Dreier, Peter (February 27, 2012). "Will The Help's Oscar Revive Interest in The Long Walk Home?". Huffington Post. Retrieved May 25, 2012.
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- Rosen, Lisa (February 4, 2009). "Big impressions in brief roles". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
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- "Could Viola Davis, Emma Stone & Octavia Spencer Get Oscar Nods for 'The Help'?" from iVillage website
- Thompson, Arienne (June 29, 2012). "McConaughey, Spencer invited to join Academy". USA Today. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
- 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.
- "Tate Taylor Reunites With ‘The Help’s Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer On James Brown Pic". Deadline. September 30, 2013. Retrieved October 23, 2013.
- "Dame Angela Lansbury 'relieved' as Murder, She Wrote remake is scrapped". BBC News website. January 22, 2014.
- "CASTING NEWS: Octavia Spencer To Play Johanna In ‘Insurgent’". Retrieved 18 September 2014.
- Chris Harnick. "Red Band Society Stars Octavia Spencer and Dave Annable on Looking for Life and Laughs in Sickness and Tragedy by CHRIS HARNICK". E Oline. Retrieved 18 September 2014.
- Octavia Spencer at the Internet Movie Database
- Octavia Spencer biography – Comedy Central
- "Perfect Casting", BlogStage, Back Stage magazine, May 2010
- Riley, Jenelle, "Octavia Spencer: The quip queen", AllBusiness.com