August 14, 2020Ali No Comment Interview, Self Made

Octavia recently spoke to The Hollywood Reporter on her Emmy nominated performance in Self Made.

The Oscar winner and first-time Emmy nominee reflects on the lessons learned from her Netflix limited series ‘Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker’ and navigating Hollywood as a Black woman: “I can guaran-damn-tee you that my agent always made sure I got a raise.”

Octavia Spencer grew up with the legacy of Madam C.J. Walker, a businesswoman and philanthropist who built an empire selling cosmetics and grooming products to Black women. Walker became known as America’s first self-made female millionaire — hence the title of the Netflix series Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker, for which Spencer earned her career-first Emmy nomination for lead actress in a limited series.

But it wasn’t Walker’s wealth that inspired Spencer, who also served as an executive producer on the four-episode series. “The fact that this woman, who was born the first free person in her home post-slavery, was able to achieve so much when the world told her that she had no value — that’s what my mother used as the example,” Spencer tells THR. “Your station in life does not dictate your path or your destiny.”

What’s the one thing you learned from playing Madam C.J. Walker that will stick with you in the future?

It’s not that I learned this, because it has always been a part of who I am, but the idea that we can do so much as a community — helping each other, aiding each other, advocating for each other. That’s what she did for Black women; she [worked] for Black women to have agency in their own lives and to help provide for their families. It made me recommit to continuing to be a force in the community, whether it’s my female community, Black community, actor community — just try to be the most contributing person that I can to society.

Self Made suggests that part of Madam C.J. Walker’s legacy was providing Black women grooming and beauty products to help them appear more respectable and rise up in the world. How do you reconcile that legacy with the idea that women, in this case Black women in particular, ought to be respected and valued for more than how they look?

For me, her legacy was about people having ownership and value in who they were. If white women, and other women of different nationalities, had beauty products that empowered them, why shouldn’t Black women? Especially at the end of slavery, when they were treated like animals. It’s about being visible, and for a lot of women, how you look is directly tied to how you feel and how you present yourself. So if you don’t have the means to have your hair be beautiful to you, and then beautiful to other people, how will you gain your place in society? How will you feel emboldened to take the steps that Madam did to become successful? For me, it’s about embracing our inner beauty and having it seen outwardly. The root of it is not about being valued for looks; it is about empowerment and Black women owning who they were and their own place in history.

You’ve said that your willingness to walk away from negotiations has been key to getting paid what you believe you deserve.

Oh, I haven’t gotten paid what I feel I deserve. Not yet. But I always get a raise. Every single job, I get a raise. I don’t think any woman has really gotten what she deserves. But when I ask for something and they don’t meet it, I’m always willing to walk away.

What would you say to women, and perhaps Black women especially, who may not feel that they’re in a position to turn down professional opportunities?

I haven’t always been in this position; there were times when I had to take what was being offered. But I can guaran-damn-tee you that my agent always made sure I got a raise. Always advance your position. Always. Sometimes it means, “Hey, I’m sorry, if I’m not getting what I need, then I’m going to have to move on to a place that does value me.” When you are starting out, show how hard you work. There’s always room for advancement. Educate yourself on what everybody else in the market is getting, and then you ask for what you deserve. You’re not always going to get it, but you also have to be willing to walk away at some point.

What are your hopes for the current reckoning with anti-Black racism? What part can Hollywood play?

It began before us — it’s about equal protection under the law and to be seen as human beings. That’s the struggle. I think entertainment should be an example. There is value in telling stories that we haven’t heard, from marginalized and underserved communities. I think Hollywood has for too long regurgitated things, and now it’s time to tell new and fresh stories. Representation matters. When you see a representation of yourself onscreen, it’s not just for you, it’s for the world at large, so that you can be visible. It’s important to be seen and heard.

Interview edited for length and clarity. This story first appeared in an August stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

August 5, 2020Ali No Comment Images, Self Made

I have added some images to the gallery from Octavia’s Emmy nominated series Self Made. She was absolutely wonderful in this role and it is such a compelling story!

Gallery Links:
Octavia Spencer Online > Television Series > Self Made: Inspired By The Life Of Madam C.J. Walker | 2020 > Season One

July 31, 2020Ali No Comment Awards, Self Made

Congratulations Octavia for her Emmy nomination for her role as Madam C.J. Walker in Self Made.

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Limited Series Or Movie
Cate Blanchett (“Mrs. America”)
Shira Haas (“Unorthodox”)
Regina King (“Watchmen”)
Octavia Spencer (“Self Made”)
Kerry Washington (“Little Fires Everywhere”)

July 31, 2020Ali 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.

July 31, 2020Ali 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.”


Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer sits down with TODAY’s Al Roker to dive into her latest role in “Luce,” where she plays a teacher disturbed by a student’s violent writing assignment and goes to extremes to confirm her suspicions.

June 20, 2019Ali No Comment Awards

CONGRATULATIONS to Octavia on the announcement that she is going to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame!

A new group of entertainment professionals in the categories of Motion Pictures, Television, Live Theatre/Live Performance, Recording and Radio have been selected to receive stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the full list was announced today, June 20, 2019 at 12:30 P.M. by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce’s Walk of Fame Selection Committee. The newest honorees were chosen from hundreds of nominations at a selection committee meeting held in June and will be ratified by the Hollywood Chamber’s Board of Directors. Walk of Famer/actress/singer Vanessa Williams, a committee member for the 2019-2020 Selection Committee, announced the new honorees with Rana Ghadban, President & CEO of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

The selections were revealed to the world via live stream exclusively by VARIETY on The stream begins at 12:30 P.M. PDT.

“The Walk of Fame Selection Committee is pleased to announce our newest honorees to the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This year’s choices were particularly unique. We were able to recognize the talents of thirty-five artists who have already built a legacy here in Hollywood,” remarked Selection Committee Chair and Walk of Famer Vin Di Bona. “Also, we were able to celebrate many new talented artists who’ve touched our hearts in film, television, radio and a variety of musical categories” he added.

The Hollywood Walk of Fame Class of 2020 are:

In the category of MOTION PICTURES: Mahershala Ali, Batman, Ruth E. Carter, Laurence Fishburne, Chris Hemsworth, Spike Lee, Julia Roberts, Octavia Spencer and Lina Wertmüller

In the category of TELEVISION: Christina Applegate, Andy Cohen, Cindy Crawford, Terry Crews, Harry Friedman, Kathie Lee Gifford, Nigel Lythgoe, Milo Ventimiglia, Burt Ward, Wendy Williams, Dr. Phil McGraw and Andy Kaufman (Posthumous)

In the category of RECORDING: Elvis Costello, Sir Lucian Grainge, Billy Idol, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Alicia Keys, Andy Madadian, Mo Ostin, Bobby Rydell, Alejandro Sanz, Tanya Tucker and Muddy Waters (Posthumous)

In the category of LIVE THEATRE/LIVE PERFORMANCE: Dave Chappelle and Billy Porter

In the category of RADIO: Susan Stamberg

The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and its Walk of Fame Selection Committee congratulate all the honorees. Dates have not been scheduled for these star ceremonies. Recipients have two years to schedule star ceremonies from the date of selection. Upcoming star ceremonies are announced ten days prior to dedication on

June 6, 2019Ali 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.

May 31, 2019Ali No Comment Onward, Videos

Check out the new trailer for Octavia’s film Onward from Pixar!

A teaser trailer promises a world in which dragons are pets and unicorns are dumpster monsters.

All the fairy tale stuff you’ve been told about—centaurs, mermaids, unicorns, dragons? They’re all present and accounted for in Pixar’s newest upcoming film Onward, a suburban tale about a world in which all those mythical creatures live together in a chill suburb. In a new teaser trailer, the film promises a universe in which mermaids casually live next door, dragons are basically domesticated pets, and unicorns are raccoon-like dumpster creatures, feasting on your trash if you leave it in your front yard without the lid on.

The story revolves around two elvish brothers, Ian and Barley (voiced by Tom Holland and Chris Pratt). Ian is the good-natured, responsible type, while Barley is more rebellious, a rock music-cranking, reckless-driving rebel. Together, they embark on some sort of quest to find the last scraps of magic left in the world.

Onward, written and directed by Dan Scanlon (Monsters University) also stars Octavia Spencer and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, though it’s not clear what roles they’re playing just yet. In a brief interview with People, Scanlon shed a bit more light on Holland and Pratt’s characters.

“We were looking for someone who could have this shy quality and someone who is good at being a little awkward. And Tom is great at that!” he said of the current Spider-Man actor. “And yet has a genuine sweetness to him that you really root for him.”

For Pratt’s character, meanwhile, Pixar was looking for “someone who was the exact opposite of that. Someone who could be wild and chaotic and out of control, but in a very charming and infectious way. And Chris Pratt is perfect for that. He has this ability to be both sort of wild and out of control but in a really lovable, fun, infectious way.” And, what do you know: after being in the Marvel family together for quite some time, Holland and Pratt already have a built-in brotherly chemistry. Onward hits theaters on March 6, 2020.


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