Octavia Spencer beat out the likes of Jessica Chastain (“The Help”) and Bernice Bejo (“The Artist”) for her first Oscar in her first nominated film, “The Help”, where she played a southern maid Minny Jackson during the civil-rights-era.
“It was the most spectacular night of my life,” she said a day after her win. “I’m on adrenaline right now. I’m so elated. I love it.”
As many of the leading names, who preceded her Oscar win, stood and applauded in the El Captain Theatre, Octavia blithely thanked her family, other cast members, and her native “state of Alabama” through tears as she tried to make sense of the moment taking place.
“The only thing I remember is I thought, Christian Bale, he was saying a name and I thought, ‘Is there anybody else’s name that begins with a vowel…O… and not falling down,’” Spencer said on ABC’s Good Morning America. “Everything else just went to white noise.”
Through her wariness, she was still cognizant of who she was standing next to while accepting her award.
“Thank you, academy, for putting me with the hottest guy in the room,” she said.
Spencer, 39, brought the sassy maid of the 1960’s to life which is based on Kathryn Stockett’s best-selling novel, “The Help”. Because the now-Oscar winner and the author are friends, the character was actually contrived with Spencer in mind.
“The sass definitely comes naturally,” Spencer said. “It’s all the other stuff in her that I had to find. The sass is no problem.”
Apparently nailing the part, Octavia doesn’t think her win is a lone-effort.
“I see myself just as a link in the chain,” she said of the cast, which included fellow nominees Viola Davis and Jessica Chastain. “You never see yourself as the forefront. I hope I never start seeing myself as the forefront,” she said. “We had a very strong and beautiful chain. That was the most amazing cast and crew.”
Though Spencer has been in numerous other films: a nurse in the film “A Time to Kill,” a nurse in several different TV series including “City of Angels” and “Chicago Hope,” and a nurse in “Halloween II” and “Seven Pounds,” she credits the civil-rights-era film and Steven Spielberg (his studio brought the film to the big screen) with changing her life.
After the biggest night in film, obviously overwhelmed and exhausted from her substantial win, the actress asked that not too many questions be asked in the press room.
When asked what her thoughts on the lack of diversity within the academy, Octavia was a bit taken back.
“I don’t have any thoughts about it; it’s not something I’ve thought about. I wish I could be more eloquent – elegant in answering that question,” she said. “I can’t tell the academy what to do, honey. They just gave me an Oscar.”
Spencer joins the ranks of a half-dozen black actresses to join the ranks of Academy Award winners in its 84-year history. In the supporting actress category, Hattie McDaniel won for “Gone with the Wind,” Whoopi Goldberg for “Ghost,” Jennifer Hudson for “Dreamgirls,” and Mo’Nique for “Precious,” while Halle Berry won best actress for “Monster’s Ball.”