Spencer at the premiere of Hidden Figures, December 2016
|Born||Octavia Lenora Spencer
May 25, 1972
Montgomery, Alabama, U.S.
|Other names||Octavia L. Spencer|
|Alma mater||Auburn University|
Octavia Lenora Spencer (born May 25, 1972) is an American actress and author. She made her film debut in A Time to Kill. Her breakthrough came in 2011, when she starred as Minny Jackson in the period film The Help, for which she won the Academy Award, Golden Globe, SAG, BAFTA, and Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Supporting Actress. She had a critically acclaimed performance in Ryan Coogler's drama Fruitvale Station (2013), for which she received the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress. Recently, Spencer has received acclaim for her work in the films Get on Up, Black or White, Smashed, Snowpiercer, The Divergent Series: Insurgent, and Zootopia. In 2017, she received Academy Award, Golden Globe, and SAG nominations for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as mathematician Dorothy Vaughan in the drama Hidden Figures.
As an author, Spencer has started a children's book series, publishing The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit (2013) and The Sweetest Heist in History (2015).
Octavia Lenora Spencer was born in Montgomery, Alabama, and has six siblings, including sisters Rosa and Areka. Her mother, Dellsena Spencer (1945-1988), worked as a maid. Spencer graduated from Jefferson Davis High School in 1988. She studied drama for two years (1988–1989), 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 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, 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". 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 as among its "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 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 coveted 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 gained critical acclaim, and was mentioned for 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, 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.
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. From September 2014 until February 2015, she starred in Steven Spielberg's Fox drama television series Red Band Society.
Spencer co-starred alongside Kevin Costner in the drama film Black or White (2014) and co-starred as Johanna Reyes in the second installment of the Divergent series, The Divergent Series: Insurgent (2015). 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.
In 2016 she had one of three starring roles as Dorothy Vaughan 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. This role garnered her a second nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, a category she previously won for her role as Minny Jackson in The Help five years prior.
|1996||A Time to Kill||Roark's Nurse|
|1997||The 6th Man||Nativity Watson|
|1999||Never Been Kissed||Cynthia|
|1999||Being John Malkovich||Woman in Elevator|
|2000||The Sky Is Falling||Nurse No. 2|
|2000||Everything Put Together||Nurse B|
|2000||American Virgin||Agnes Large|
|2000||What Planet Are You From?||Baby Nurse|
|2000||Big Momma's House||Twila|
|2000||Four Dogs Playing Poker||Waitress|
|2001||Sol Goode||Unemployment Clerk|
|2001||The Journeyman||Black Belly|
|2003||Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde||Security Guard|
|2003||S.W.A.T.||Neighbor in Alley|
|2003||Chicken Party||Laqueta Mills|
|2004||Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!||Janine|
|2004||Breakin' All the Rules||Stylist|
|2005||Coach Carter||Mrs. Battle|
|2005||Marilyn Hotchkiss' Ballroom
Dancing and Charm School
|2005||Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous||Octavia – Bookstore|
|2005||Beauty Shop||Big Customer|
|2005||Wannabe||Lady Chanet Janney Jones|
|2008||Next of Kin||Grace|
|2008||Pretty Ugly People||Mary|
|2008||Seven Pounds||Kate (Home Health Care Nurse)|
|2009||The First Time (Love At First Hiccup)||Mrs. Hambrick|
|2009||Drag Me to Hell||Bank Co-Worker No. 1|
|2009||Jesus People: The Movie||Angel Angelique|
|2009||The Soloist||Troubled Woman|
|2009||Just Peck||Detention Room Teacher|
|2009||Halloween II||Nurse Daniels|
|2009||Small Town Saturday Night||Rhonda Dooley|
|2010||Dinner for Schmucks||Madame Nora|
|2011||The Help||Minny Jackson|
|2014||Get On Up||Aunt Honey Washington|
|2015||The Great Gilly Hopkins||Miss Harris|
|2015||Black or White||Rowena Jeffers|
|2015||The Divergent Series: Insurgent||Johanna Reyes|
|2015||Fathers and Daughters||Dr. Korman|
|2016||Zootopia||Mrs. Otterton (voice)|
|2016||The Divergent Series: Allegiant||Johanna Reyes|
|2016||The Free World||Linda Workman|
|2016||Bad Santa 2||Opal|
|2016||Hidden Figures||Dorothy Vaughan|
|2017||The Shape of Water||Filming|
|1998||ER||Maria Jones||Season 5, episode 7|
|1999||Lansky||Evelyn the Maid||TV movie|
|1999||The X-Files||Nurse||Season 7, episode 4, "Millennium"|
|2000||Malcolm in the Middle||Cashier||Season 2, episode 9|
|2000||Missing Pieces||Elegant Guest||TV movie|
|2001||Follow the Stars Home||Hildy||TV movie|
|2002||Little John||Waitress||TV movie|
|2006–07||The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman||Cheryl / Female Security Guard||4 episodes|
|2007||Halfway Home||Serenity Johnson||10 episodes|
|2007||Ugly Betty||Constance Grady||5 episodes|
|2008||The Big Bang Theory||DMV Employee||Season 2, episode 5|
|2008||Wizards of Waverly Place||Dr. Evilini||2 episodes|
|2009||Dollhouse||Professor Jackie||1 episode|
|2009||Raising the Bar||Arvina Watkins||5 episodes|
|2010||Hawthorne||Emily Thomkins||Season 2, episode 4|
|2013||30 Rock||Herself||TV series; 1 episode, "Game Over"|
|2013||Call Me Crazy: A Five Film||Dr. Nance||Lifetime Original Movie|
|2013–present||Mom||Regina||Recurring: 8 episodes|
|2014–15||Red Band Society||Nurse Dena Jackson||13 episodes; Main role|
|2015||Drunk History||Harriet Tubman||Episode: "Spies"|
|2017||Saturday Night Live||Guest Host (3/4/17)|
Awards and nominations
- "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.
- Spencer, Octavia) [octaviaspencer] (January 24, 2012). "ERM, for some reason I'm being reported as being anywhere from 38-43 yrs old." (Tweet). Archived from the original on March 22, 2012. Retrieved January 11, 2013 – via Twitter. "DOB 5/25/72. that would make me 39 until may 25th, right?"
- "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.
- "Octavia Spencer's first book, 'Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective". USA Today. January 2013. Retrieved February 21, 2015.
- "Areka Spencer Thrilled for Sister", Boston Globe, Retrieved 2 February 2015
- Public Record of Dellsena Spencer retrieved 2/21/2015
- Calkin, Jessamy (July 16, 2009). "The maid's tale: Kathryn Stockett examines slavery and racism in America's Deep South". The Daily Telegraph. London.
- "Local News - The Montgomery Advertiser - montgomeryadvertiser.com". February 21, 2015.
- Greene, Teri (August 14, 2011). "Montgomery native stars in 'The Help'". Retrieved July 8, 2012.
- 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.
- Riley, Jenelle (April 5, 2005). "Octavia Spencer: The Quip Queen". allbusiness.com. Retrieved August 8, 2011.
- 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.
- Rosen, Lisa (February 4, 2009). "Big impressions in brief roles". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
- "Octavia Spencer – The 25 Funniest Actresses in Hollywood". Entertainment Weekly. 13 April 2009. Retrieved June 27, 2011.
- "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.
- 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.
- "Octavia Spencer Will Battle Kevin Costner For Custody In Drama 'Black And White'". indiewire.com. 8 May 2013. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
- "CASTING NEWS: Octavia Spencer To Play Johanna In 'Insurgent'". Retrieved 18 September 2014.
- Octavia Spencer at the Internet Movie Database
- Octavia Spencer biography – Comedy Central
- "Perfect Casting", BlogStage, Backstage magazine, May 2010
- Riley, Jenelle, "Octavia Spencer: The quip queen", AllBusiness.com
- "Octavia Spencer's Surprising Post-Oscars Splurge". Parade. February 22, 2012. Archived from the original on February 26, 2012 – via Kitsap Sun (Bremerton, Washington).
...the 39-year old...