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Octavia Spencer’s Surprising Post-Oscars Splurge
Editor's note: Octavia Spencer won the award for Best Supporting Actress at Sunday's Oscars. This interview was conducted the week leading up to the awards.
Octavia Spencer’s portrayal of spitfire maid Minny Jackson has brought the 39-year old veteran some well-deserved accolades. Her performance in The Help has won her Golden Globe and SAG awards and she is up for Best Supporting Actress at Sunday’s Academy Awards.
She recently spoke with PARADE about her incredible year, her early days in show business, and the big ticket gift she is giving herself.
What did you do before hitting it big?
“I was a production assistant. I saw what people who are full of themselves are like—another reason not to lose your humility! I have a mouth on me so I wasn’t the best PA.”
When you hear your name announced as the winner at an awards show, what goes through your mind?
”I’m shocked. It’s very, very humbling that people are singling out that performance.”
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What's been your favorite celebrity encounter?
“I can't say one experience is better than the other one but if I had to, I would say Steven Spielberg. I saw him quite a few times and he was always smiling. And I literally probably looked like a stalker. He and Oprah. They're right there together. Oprah changed my dream of what I could be and Steven influenced every ounce of my artistry. I think he's just the best ever. The fact that I got to do a movie for his studio and had conversations with him is like 'Oh my God.'”
When you first moved to L.A., Keanu Reeves helped you when your car broke down. Have you run into him since?
“No, I haven’t, but I still go to all of his movies on opening weekend.”
What would people be surprised to know about you?
”I have an affinity for the law. I like looking at the small type on contracts, and if I could have afforded law school, I probably would have gone.”
What was it like growing up in such a big family? Especially being the sixth of seven children.
“I honestly wouldn't know how it would be without that many siblings. I was a big reader and sometimes it was like I didn't have brothers or sisters at all because I would be in a corner somewhere reading. We all have one or two we talk to all the time but we all are pretty close.”
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Does coming from a big family affect whether you want children yourself?
“I hope the guy I choose is not an only child. But I do want kids. I definitely want at least three, but I'm about to hit 40, so we’ll see.”
I read your Oscar date will be someone from The Help so there’s no familial drama. True?
“If I could take all of my siblings, it would be easy and I would do that. But since I can't, I have to keep it in perspective since we got there as a team. Even if only a few of us are singled out, I would rather have as much of us there as possible because they worked on the film and should bask in all of its glory. I think that is the right thing to do. If my mom would be alive, it would definitely be her, but she's not.”
Speaking of dates, do you get asked out more?
“Oh, you keep that in perspective, too. A little bit more, but it feels weird if it's not coming from the right place.”
You were the comedic force in The Help. What makes you burst into giggles?
“I love the wry sense of humor. That's why I'm obsessed with Tate [Taylor, The Help director] and Viola [Davis]. They're like the funniest people on the planet. I like a person who knows how to say something dark at a very dark moment. The darker the moment and the darker the comic, the better. Something that is so wrong on all levels.”
Because Minny was so sassy, are people nervous to approach you?
“Well, they should be intimidated! [laughs] When people look at me they know when I feel like being bothered and when I don't. If I feel like being bothered my eyes are up and looking around. If I don't feel like being bothered I'm looking at a book and my eyes are closed. I think you have to read people's signs if they are tired, but I haven't really had a problem. So I guess people are reading me correctly. But if someone comes up and says hello, I'm not going to be rude.”
Have you gotten yourself a splurge gift?
“Well, I am going to get my boobs lifted. That's going to be my first gift. I'm going to do that. I figured going into my forties I want my boobs where they were when I was 17.”
Are you doing that pre- or post-Oscars?
“Oh definitely post because right after the Oscars I start a Diablo Cody movie. We're taping out of the country for four months so I wouldn't be back here until about August. So I would want to do this around November. Then that way I could just relax until January.”