Octavia Spencer on new romantic film ‘The Shape of Water’ and dating in Hollywood

The Oscar-winning actress talks breaking away from cast types

Octavia Spencer is living her best life. The 47-year-old Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA Film award-winning actress is dropping wisdom gained from her experiences in the latest issue of AARP Magazine

Starring in the new romantic fairy-tale, The Shape of Water, Spencer talks of the importance of experiences and relationships.

‘The Shape of Water,’ being typecast & dating in Hollywood

“If you’re constantly chasing success, then you’re not really living in the moment. Save money and go places. Do things…Trust me, I love working and getting to do what I do, but I had a lot more fun on the way up,” she says.

Growing up as the sixth of seven children all raised by a single mother in Montgomery, Alabama, Spencer highlights that it’s the company of her family that grounds her. “Until I get married, I’ll always spend Christmas with my family in Alabama,” says the actress.

In The Shape of Water, Spencer portrays the best friend of a woman who falls in love with a sea monster. It’s a marked departure for an actress who has repeatedly played roles centered around real-life people and civil rights. Though the film is set in 1960s America in a mainly white workplace, Spencer’s race is not mentioned. “As crazy as this will sound, that was quite refreshing for me, to not have to talk about my race,” Spencer says.

Spencer says she was immediately attracted to the unusual role.

“I knew I wanted to do it the minute my agent told me I would be meeting with Guillermo (Director Guillermo del Toro),” says Spencer. “I’ve been a fan of his for years. He is like the godfather of the horror genre, and I’m a huge horror fan.”

Although Spencer has cultivated an amazing career, she admits she has struggled with being typecast.

“When I was 26, they were trying to give me 50-year-old parts,” she says. “As a woman of certain physical attributes, people would like to only see you in a couple of archetypes, like the nurturer nanny or the sassy woman.”

At 47, Spencer is clearly comfortable in her own skin.

“When you are 20, you still care about what people think and how you’re perceived. When you turn 30, you start to get an ownership of self. By the time you turn 40, you start to care less about how you’re perceived, and your own your mistakes,” she says.

“When I see people who are happy and joyful and of a certain age, I know it’s because they know the meaning of life. It’s about how you spend your time. It’s not about chasing things on life’s treadmill…it’s about the people that are sitting around my table–my family, my nieces and nephews, my friends.”

So far, Spencer hasn’t been as lucky in the dating department.

“I don’t really like to talk about dating. It’s not easy dating anywhere, but definitely not easy dating in Hollywood,” she says. “I don’t know whether I’d call it ‘fun.’ It’s very interesting –let’s just say that.”

 

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