Actor Profile: Octavia Spencer

Written by: John Heffernan

Today I would like to discuss the amazingly powerful Octavia Spencer. Before 2010 or 2011 people may have seen Spencer in a movie as a background extra but never knew her actual name or strengths as an actress. One of the first roles that I remember her was as the receptionist at the Wrestling Match in the original Spider-Man (Raimi, 2002). I recently was watching the film and when her brief scene appeared I was so surprised. If only Sam Raimi had realized that the extra that he had cast at the set would be an Oscar Award winning actress. It truly is a great message to any struggling actress or actor just getting extra parts.

The film that she really broke out was in The Help (2011). This role of Minny Jackson really revolutionized the powerful female African American role during the 1960’s. Her most memorable moment in the film, without spoiling it, involves a certain ingredient in a certain pie, that a certain character eats. This role would award Octavia Spencer with her Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Her next role that we are discussing today was in the 2016 film Hidden Figures (Melfi, 2016) were she played real life African American Nasa Employee Dorothy Vaughan. She would then escalate her cinematic career with the Oscar Award winning film The Shape of Water (Del Toro, 2017). Overall it is clear that Spencer has open the door for both female and African Americans in the cinematic world.

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