In honor of Women’s History month and Netflix’s premiere of Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker on March 22nd, we’re taking time to appreciate (aka stan for….) the show’s executive producer and star, Octavia Spencer.
Let’s rewind to a time before her breakout role in The Help (2011). Born and raised in Alabama, Octavia Spencer dreamed of working in front of the camera. But that dream seemed a little too distant for the sensible actress.
“The practical side of me never saw an avenue…” Spencer mentioned in a 2017 interview with the SAG-AFTRA Foundation. “I was also told…that Hollywood wasn’t for me. It was not for girls who looked like me- it was for the beautiful people.”
Despite her love for acting, this led Octavia to spend much of her early career behind the camera. She worked in casting, even on the 1996 thriller A Time to Kill– her film debut. In the movie, she portrays a nurse opposite the already famous Sandra Bullock. This opportunity was unique for Octavia because unlike her previous directors, Joel Schumacher did not ask her to read for lines. She had to ask for an audition.
Spencer explained in the interview, “It’s great because by asking him I was not passive, um and it made me not want to be turned down. It made me want to do it.”
credit: Warner Brothers
She worked as a PA on the film and shot her scene opposite Bullock on the last day of filming. The following January, Octavia packed up and moved to Los Angeles- still working in casting, but also auditioning. After being cut out of Disney’s The Sixth Man, she hunkered down and began formal acting classes.
Over the years following Spencer would appear in many films including Win A Date with Tad Hamilton and Seven Pounds, eventually landing her first lead role in The Help. She not only garnered accolades (including an Oscar) for her performance, but also lead roles in films such as Hidden Figures, Fruitvale Station and critically acclaimed The Shape of Water. Spencer is now Executive Producer and lead actor in Netflix’s new series Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker, premiering on March 22nd.
Afraid to follow your dreams? Take a cue from Octavia Spencer- just step out and ask!
About The Author:
Princess Carroll is a Los Angeles based host, model, and writer from Baltimore, Maryland. With a background in television production, Princess is always looking for the best story!
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