Octavia Spencer lost her bid to become the most decorated African American award winner at the Oscars after losing the Best Supporting actress trophy to Allison Jenney for I, Tonya.
Spencer stood as the only black actress to follow up an Oscar victory with two nominations in back-to-back years. In 2011, she won best supporting actress for her role in The Help. Last year was a notable year for her also when she became the first Black woman to receive a post-win nomination for her role in Hidden Figures. She now has three nominations to her name and sits proudly as one of the most decorated actresses in Hollywood along with Viola Davis.
The Shape of Water was about a mute woman who falls in love with a humanoid sea creature. Spencer plays the best friend of a woman who falls in love with the sea monster. The Guillermo del Toro directed movie secured 13 total Oscar nominations (including best picture) three days after being named the Producers Guild of America’s top film of 2017.
The role is a departure from some of the roles Spencer has played that center around race. She talked about how much of a relief it was to be in the comedy. “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.”