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Octavia Spencer’s Best Performances, Ranked

Loved this article talking about the strength of the performances that Octavia gives.

You know who’s a real gem of an actress? Octavia Spencer. It might be unfair to say this, but if acting was basketball, then Octavia Spencer would probably be the industry’s MVP when it comes to assists. That’s because when you typically think of Octavia Spencer movies, you probably think about how she’s often the most shining performance in a supporting role. That’s not to say that she doesn’t take on lead roles, as she had an important one just recently in HBO Max’s The Witches. That said, most of her most memorable performances are usually of her giving a helping hand.

But support is so, so important, and it can make or break a story. That’s likely why Ms. Spencer won a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for The Help, and was also nominated two other times for Hidden Figures and The Shape of Water. But if there is any one truth about Octavia Spencer, it’s that she’s an impeccable actress and we’re lucky to have her. Now on with the list.

10. Zootopia (Mrs. Otterton)
Voice acting is no easy feat, especially when you’re playing the diminutive Mrs. Otterton in Disney’s hit movie, Zootopia. Emotions run high in this film, and Octavia Spencer’s performance as a woman looking for her missing husband is a shining moment in a movie just brimming with shining moments. It’s such a little role, but Octavia Spencer manages to get us all emotionally invested in the search for her husband, and we’re rooting for Lt. Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde to find him.

But what really makes this performance special is just how well Octavia Spencer’s voice disappears into the character. Sure, if you know it’s her, then you’ll hear her. But if you don’t know it’s her, then you’ll just get fully invested in this character’s plight and sadness and will most likely say, “That was Octavia Spencer?” once you read the closing credits. She’s just too good. Even as an otter.

9. Snowpiercer (Tanya)
With such massive and memorable performances by Tilda Swinton, Ed Harris, and Chris Evans, it’s often easy to forget that Octavia Spencer is even in Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer. But once you watch it again, you’ll remember her since she plays such an important but subtle role as Tanya, a mother who is determined to get her son back from authoritarian forces. She has a voice and she uses it to motivate people, much to great effect.

And while I won’t spoil the movie for you in case you haven’t seen it yet (and if you haven’t, it’s currently on Netflix) what ultimately happens to her will make you pound the armrest of your seat once you get invested in her character. Which is why Snowpiercer is a good movie on your first watch, but a great movie on your second or third viewings. And Octavia Spencer is just one of the reasons why. She’s acting her butt off without you really even noticing it. Because that’s just how great she is.

8. Onward (The Manticore)
I love Onward. In fact, it’s actually my new favorite Pixar movie, despite its lackluster performance at the box office. But as much as I love the overall story of two sons trying to bring back their father, what I love just as much is the characters. And Octavia Spencer comes in the blow us all away again as the once fierce, but now family-friendly, Manticore.

Octavia Spencer is hilarious since she has to withhold the seething, relentless rage that her species is known for, but also keep it all under wraps so that she can run a fantasy-themed restaurant. Of course she can’t hold it all together for too long, nor would we ever want her to.

Octavia Spencer Would Pass on a Role Before Working With This Animal

Oct 27, 2020  •  Ali  •  No Comment  •  Articles, Videos, Witches

Collider talks to Octavia about her new role in The Witches and what animal she is not a fan of!

With Robert Zemeckis’ The Witches now available to watch on HBO Max, we got the chance to catch up with Octavia Spencer to discuss her experience making the film. Spencer plays the grandmother of a young boy (Jahzir Bruno) who loses his parents. Soon after taking him in, they venture off to a hotel where, unbeknownst to them, the Grand High Witch (Anne Hathaway) is hosting an event to show off her new scheme to her underlings, a plot to transform children into mice.

In addition to discussing her experience making the movie, Spencer also took a moment to address the inspiration behind the continued work she’s doing with her alma mater, Auburn University, and if she’d rather work with a real animal or CG creature. Check it all out in this interview!

Riz Ahmed, Octavia Spencer & Amazon Board Sci-Fi Thriller ‘Invasion’ From Raw

Jul 31, 2020  •  Ali  •  No Comment  •  Articles, Invasion

Deadline shares the exciting news that Octavia has joined the case of the film Invasion.

EXCLUSIVE: Riz Ahmed and Octavia Spencer have been cast in Invasion, a sci-fi thriller pic from BAFTA-winning UK filmmaker Michael Pearce (Beast).

I can also reveal that Amazon Studios has taken worldwide rights to the project and will produce alongside American Animals outfit Raw and UK funder Film4, which backed development.

The script is written by Pearce with Joe Barton (The Ritual). It follows two young brothers who go on the run with their father, a decorated Marine (Ahmed), who is trying to protect them from an unhuman threat. As the journey takes them in increasingly dangerous and unexpected directions, the boys will need to confront hard truths and leave their childhood behind. The film is aiming to shoot in the States this year.

Producers are Raw’s Dimitri Doganis (Three Identical Strangers), Piers Vellacott (American Animals) and Derrin Schlesinger (The Nest). Film4’s Daniel Battsek, Ollie Madden and Julia Oh are executive producing. Kate Churchill and Jenny Hinkey will also executive produce.

Pearce’s Beast, which was a breakout film for stars Jessie Buckley and Johnny Flynn, scored the director an Outstanding Debut BAFTA alongside producer Lauren Dark (now senior commissioner at Film4).

Ahmed is coming off Sound Of Metal, which Amazon will release in the U.S. later this year, and 2020 Berlin premiere Mogul Mowgli. He is an Emmy-winner and Golden Globe nominee for HBO series The Night Of.

Oscar-winning actress Spencer picked up her first Emmy nomination last night for her lead role in Self-Made: Inspired By The Life Of Madam CJ Walker. Next year, she will be seen starring opposite Anne Hathaway in The Witches which is based on the popular Roald Dahl novel of the same name. Additional upcoming credits include Thunder Force for Netflix alongside Melissa McCarthy and the second season of Truth Be Told for Apple.

Spencer is represented by WME and Jackoway Austen Tyerman. Ahmed is at WME, Gang, Tyre, Ramer, Brown & Passman and Gordon and French. Pearce is at WME and Independent.

Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer calls on studios to hire more disabled actors

Jul 31, 2020  •  Ali  •  No Comment  •  Articles

Octavia Spencer is stepping up for disabled actors.

The 50-year-old star is urging Hollywood producers to cast more disabled actors to establish a more realistic cross-section of Americans in TV and movies.

During a video campaign for a private philanthropic foundation advocating for disabled inclusion, the “Ma” star recalled the first time she saw herself represented on screen.

“Women weren’t allowed to perform in theaters until 1660. All characters, whether male or female, were portrayed by men before then,” said Spencer, according to USA Today. “It has only been a few decades since white actors would portray Black, Asian and even Native American characters on screen.”

Spencer noted that not only do minorities feel marginalized by whites chronicling their tales but are forced to witness inaccurate character portrayals.

“But nothing can replace lived experience and authentic representation. That’s why it’s imperative that we cast the appropriate actor for the appropriate role, and that means people with disabilities, as well,” said the three-time Oscar nominee. “Casting able-bodied actors in roles for characters with disabilities is offensive, unjust and deprives an entire community of people from opportunities.”

According to a press release, the foundation garnered a slew of star support with a 2019 open letter, which called on network and studio execs to create more opportunities for disabled actors.

The letter was signed by some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Glenn Close, Joaquin Phoenix, George Clooney and Bryan Cranston.

Spencer, who is tied with Viola Davis for most acting nominations among African-American actresses, won in 2012 for her performance in “The Help.” She was nominated five years later for “Hidden Figures” and the following year for “The Shape of Water.”


Ma, Octavia Spencer, and How to Make the Right Kind of Trash

Jun 06, 2019  •  Ali  •  No Comment  •  Articles, Ma

The title of this article made me laugh! Here is Vanity Fair’s review of Ma.

Tate Taylor’s new Blumhouse vehicle is a lesson in why genre movies need style.

There’s a good movie trapped somewhere in Tate Taylor’s Ma. That’s the frustrating part. The film, which opened Friday, stars Octavia Spencer as Sue Ann, a maternal veterinary assistant in a small town whose life takes a turn when a group of underage teenagers ask her to buy them alcohol. One liquor-store run becomes another, and soon the teens are guests at a series of strange, all-night hangouts in Sue Ann’s basement. Soon thereafter things escalate into violence, generational secrets, and outright horror. There’s stalking, manic video messaging, drugging, a fake cancer scare, murder, a fiery climax —the kind of nonsense a good piece of genre trash needs.

Yet Ma never really lives up to its trashy potential, in part because its attention is overly drawn to the less absorbing nooks of its story—and in part because it tiptoes alongside the true dangers at its center, preferring instead to add more backstory, more psychological padding for it to under-explore.

The movie did well at the box office over the weekend, regardless, raking in $21.1 million in global markets, behind heavy hitters like Aladdin and Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Its main story is solid: the teens, played by charismatic young actors Dante Brown, Corey Fogelmanis, Gianni Paolo, McKaley Miller, and Booksmart’s Diana Silvers, bond over being lured and stalked by this increasingly unstable woman, all while hammering out their own burgeoning romances and social anxieties. For much of its run time, Ma seems like it will be a movie about an embittered woman’s misguided attempts to wreak havoc on the lives of a group of random high schoolers.

In truth—without completely spoiling it—Ma is a movie about an embittered woman’s attempts at wreaking havoc on the lives of people her own age: the teenagers’ parents. For my money the adult drama is actually the most satisfying thread here: not the story of the secret housemate living upstairs, or the other story of the secret encounter in a school closet, but rather the insightfully morbid look at a group of adult flameouts (played, alongside Spencer, by the likes of Juliette Lewis and Luke Evans)—who either graduated from high school, left town, tried to make something of themselves, and came back with their tails between their legs; or never left in the first place, playing out their middling adulthoods on the same streets and backroads that defined their upbeat teenage years.

It’s no wonder these adults never get past what happened when they were kids. Ma is to a great degree a movie about the adolescent traumas that never leave us, festering so far into the future that our own offspring are still unknowingly fighting our battles, Hatfield and McCoy-style—or Hatfield and McCoy versus Sue Ann.

That’s the petty drama that makes Ma as entertaining as it is—well, that and Spencer herself, of course. She won an Academy Award for best supporting actress the last time she collaborated with Tate Taylor, for her role as a headstrong maid in his 2011 film, The Help. It’s thanks to Spencer and her younger costars that Ma feels almost critic-proof, the kind of movie that’ll be watchable no matter how few chances it takes to really go there.

Octavia Spencer Says “Fashion Hasn’t Been Kind” to Women Who Look Like Her

May 21, 2019  •  Ali  •  No Comment  •  Articles

I am going to be 100 percent real with you,” Octavia Spencer says when we sit down at a restaurant one morning in L.A., not far from her home in the San Fernando Valley. She seems to mean it. Over the next hour, whether we’re discussing her salary negotiations, her stage fright, her dyslexia, her hairstyles (wigs included), or her issues with the way the fashion industry treats non-skinny people, Spencer has a knack for speaking the truth.

But if you’ve seen a certain movie trailer in recent weeks, your most pressing questions might be about another topic: her starring role as a murderous psychopath. In the horror film Ma, out May 31, Spencer plays an isolated woman who lures a group of teenagers into her home and proceeds to torture them one by one. After two Oscar nominations (for Hidden Figures and The Shape of Water) and one win (for best supporting actress in The Help), it’s her first titular role.

Spencer has always insisted that her films have something important to say. What about Ma? “This one might be the exception,” she says, letting out a long laugh.

In fact, the more Spencer talks about Ma and everything else, the more it’s clear that this is all part of a well-considered plan. Over the past few years, despite her growing collection of awards and despite Hollywood’s efforts to address its chronic diversity problem, Spencer, 49, was still getting offers for types of characters she’s played all along: sweet nurses, sassy maids. (“I didn’t realize there were so many maid roles in the pantheon,” she jokes.) So she issued a challenge to her old friend Tate Taylor, who directed The Help: “Find me something to do that I haven’t done.” Taylor came upon the script for Ma, whose deeply damaged protagonist, Sue Ann, was originally written as a white woman.

Spencer is a longtime fan of the horror genre (her character even got her face sliced in half in Halloween II), so on the set of Ma she had no qualms that Sue Ann had to do some pretty bad things, such as sewing the popular girl’s mouth shut with a needle and thread. Actually, Spencer was a little too convincing for one young cast member, who almost had a panic attack after shooting a torture scene. “I had to constantly check in with the kids,” Spencer remembers.

“‘Everybody OK? We still know we’re making a movie? Are you good?’ It was a little touch-and-go sometimes.” As for the movie’s deeper meaning, Spencer points out that horror films, like fairy tales, are usually allegorical, and in the era of social media there’s something especially relevant about a grown woman looking for acceptance in all the wrong places.

“She really needs to be a part of this group of kids, and she really needs them to like her,” Spencer says. More broadly, Ma is very much a genre film, “one that will sit with you for a few days and make you look at the actor in a different way, which is what I wanted.”

Spencer got her first acting role in 1996, when she was working as an assistant on the set of A Time to Kill and had the guts to ask the director, Joel Schumacher, for a small part. (Of course, he cast her as a nurse, but at least it was Sandra Bullock’s nurse.) During the years of endless auditioning and occasional minor roles that followed, the actress says she never considered any other career. “I guess I see things differently from other people in terms of success,” says Spencer, whose mother worked as a maid. “I’m from Montgomery, Ala. I’m a woman of size, with a character-actor face. When I was paid to do that little job in A Time to Kill, I’d already become successful. Someone had already paid me to do what I knew I was destined to do. So, for me, it was only about getting better and just following the ride up the ladder.”

These days, as she nears the ladder’s upper rungs, Spencer has made it a crusade to ensure that she and other women, especially women of color, get paid what they deserve. In 2017, when Jessica Chastain (Spencer’s co-star in The Help) was getting ready to shop around a new comedy with Spencer attached, the two discussed their fees during a phone call. Spencer told Chastain her expectations and revealed how much she’d been earning previously. “Jessica was completely silent,” Spencer recalls. “When she started to talk again, her voice quivered. She said, ‘Octavia, you and I are going to get paid exactly the same on this.’ And she never wavered.” Though the movie, which eventually went to Universal, isn’t in production yet, Spencer’s salary increased by a factor of five.

Since then Spencer has been refining her hardball negotiating techniques. And while the final decisions about casting and compensation are still often made by male studio executives, Spencer has discovered that the men in the room are more interested in equality than people expect. “Sometimes you only need to ask,” she says. “And sometimes you need to ask and also hit the table.” It also helps to be ready to walk. “When they say, ‘Take it or leave it,’ they don’t think you’re going to leave it. But when they know you’re prepared to leave it, things change.”

Allison Janney, who’s been a close friend of Spencer’s for 18 years (they also co-starred in The Help), says she has learned a lot from watching Spencer turn down unworthy offers. “Octavia is very fierce,” says Janney. “When she says no, she just tells her agent, ‘Thank them.’ It’s her way of saying, ‘I’ve drawn my line in the sand, and I’m not moving it.’ ” Spencer is now one of the main people Janney calls for advice on business matters, including her salary. “I’m like, ‘Octavia, does this sound right to you?’ And she’ll go, ‘Absolutely.’ Or she’ll go, ‘Hell, no! Hell, no!’ She inspires me to be tougher.”

Spencer also sees plenty of room for change in the way the fashion world treats women with bodies like hers. “Now, this is going to ruffle some feathers,” she says. “I love clothes. I don’t know many women who don’t love to be pretty when it’s time to be pretty. But fashion has not always been kind to women who look like me.” If anything, Spencer says, her experience on the red carpet go-round has left her less interested in fashion because the industry makes little effort to include her. “They don’t market to me. If they did, they would make so much more money! Because there are so many more women who fit my demographic. But I’m not going to chase it. So I just smile and say, ‘Whenever you guys come to your senses.’”


50 Agents of Change Empowering Diverse Voices in Hollywood

Apr 30, 2019  •  Ali  •  No Comment  •  Articles

The Hollywood Reporter highlighted 50 individuals who have helped drive opportunities for more diversity in Hollywood … including Octavia.

Meet the creative and business forces — including Kenya Barris, Laverne Cox, Jon M. Chu and Norman Lear — who are shifting the industry’s landscape to drive opportunities onscreen and off for fresh talents and leaders: “I want to do things that break what I expect Hollywood to do.”

“Every time someone earnestly explains why it is so incredibly deeply difficult for them to find a woman or a man of color to hire,” says Shonda Rhimes, “an angel loses its wings.” In other words, it’s way past time for Hollywood’s offices, sets and writers rooms to represent robust diversity, and THR’s first-ever roster of Agents of Change highlights the key figures working daily to make that happen. They were chosen — after extensive reporting and consultation with stakeholders at every level of entertainment, as well as key members of inclusion-centered industry groups like Time’s Up and ReFrame — for their active leadership and mentorship: These are the producers, execs, creators, stars and advocates making content, making hires and making noise for those still finding their voice. Adds Rhimes, “Good men fix broken things.” So meet the good men (including some straight white dudes), good women and one nonbinary person who are leading the way.

Octavia Spencer
Actor, producer

The 46-year-old Hidden Figures and The Shape of Water star may be a bona fide A-lister, but she has been outspoken about her personal fight for pay equality — and says having open dialogue is the key. “I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had with young women who have an accomplished résumé while their male co-stars do not; yet, he’s offered considerably more,” says Spencer, who just signed a three-year pod deal with Disney’s 20th Century Fox Television for her new production company Orit Entertainment. As an executive producer, Spencer has used her power to bring more women onto set. In her upcoming horror film Ma, 45 percent of department heads were women, and for her Apple series Truth Be Told, she adds, “Our fearless executive producers are diverse and comprised of 70 percent women, so it was organic to hire female department heads and directors.”

WHO’S REALLY MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN HOLLYWOOD? “Mindy Kaling, Shonda Rhimes, Reese Witherspoon and Tyler Perry are all creating opportunities that I find exciting.”

BRAVEST CAREER RISK I’VE TAKEN “Moving from Montgomery, Alabama, with $3,000, a few contacts, and a dream in my heart.”

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