Octavia Spencer is an actress who first became familiar with audiences through her character Constance Grady on the recent ABC show Ugly Betty. While she has been acting for years, her recent roles have catapulted her to A-list status, winning the 2012 Golden Globe Award for best supporting actress and scoring an Academy Award for her portrayal of Minny Jackson in The Help.

Stepping onstage during the Golden Globes to accept her award, Spencer did not forget to thank the real-life domestic workers for their everyday contributions.

“With regard to domestics in this country, now and then, I think Dr. King said it best: ‘All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance,’” she said.

Known mostly for playing characters with sass, Spencer also has the chops for more serious roles, ensuring her career in Hollywood will be a long one.

WATCH AN ORIGINAL GRIO INTERVIEW WITH SPENCER
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Octavia Spencer is making history as… a talented African-American actress who is captivating audiences on the big and small screens. Spencer is one of the few black Hollywood actresses in the film business today to have consistent appearances in mainstream television shows and movies. Aside from The Help, Spencer has had small parts in films such as Win A Date With Tad Hamilton, Dinner for Schmucks, Bad Santa and Big Momma’s House.

What’s next for Octavia?

Spencer will show her more serious side in the upcoming dramatic comedy Smashed, which recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Spencer plays a recovering alcoholic and sponsor to the main character, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

In her own words…

“Once we stop looking at ‘It takes a white girl,’ we need to take a look at the fact that it’s these women who came together to do something huge in their small community,” Spencer told People magazine, referring to the racial politics in a white character inspiring the maids in The Help to share their story. “I’m a realist — we live in a multifaceted, multicultural world, and maybe if we stop labeling ourselves, everyone else will.”

A little-known fact…

Spencer’s start in acting came out of a job she had in the casting department of the 1996 film A Time to Kill. She asked the director, Joel Schumacher, if she could audition for a role and ended up getting a three-line part as a nurse to actress Sandra Bullock’s character.