Octavia Lenora Spencer is an American actress and author. She is the recipient of several accolades, including an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, and a Golden Globe Award. She is one of two black actresses to have received three Academy Award nominations and is the only black actress to receive two consecutive nominations.
Spencer made her film debut in the 1996 drama A Time to Kill. Following a decade of brief roles in film and television, her breakthrough came in 2011, when she played a maid in 1960s America in The Help, for which she won several awards, including the Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, and BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress. For her performance in Ryan Coogler’s drama Fruitvale Station (2013), she received the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Spencer went on to appear in such films as Smashed (2012), Snowpiercer (2013), Get on Up (2014), The Divergent Series (2015–2016), and Gifted (2017). She received Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress for the roles of a mathematician in Hidden Figures (2016) and a janitor in The Shape of Water (2017).
As an author, Spencer has started a children’s book series titled Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective. She has published two books in the series, titled The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit (2013) and The Sweetest Heist in History (2015).
Octavia Lenora Spencer was born in Montgomery, Alabama, and has six siblings, including sisters Rosa and Areka. Her mother, Dellsena Spencer (1945-1988), worked as a maid. Her father died when she was thirteen. Spencer graduated from Jefferson Davis High School in 1988. She studied drama for two years, and received a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from Auburn University. Spencer has dyslexia.