A Minute With: Octavia Spencer on "The Help" to her career

Wed Dec 7, 2011 5:21am EST
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By Zorianna Kit

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actress Octavia Spencer seemingly came out of nowhere to steal this summer's sleeper hit, "The Help," about a group of African American maids in the early 1960s working in white households in Mississippi.

The film, based on Kathryn Stockett's novel of the same name, has grossed $199 million at worldwide, and Oscar buzz is circling Spencer for her role as Minny Jackson, an outspoken maid who gets fired and seeks a nasty sort of vengeance using her ability to cook.

Spencer, 41, spoke to Reuters about how life has changed since the film, which was released on DVD this week, and how she's coping with the Oscar buzz.

Q: Prior to "The Help," you were best known for your role on TV's "Ugly Betty." Now, you're about to star in a movie opposite Russell Brand. How has life changed?

A: "Quite honestly, I'm getting in to a lot better rooms to meet people I only dreamed about meeting before. And for that I'm grateful. I have been getting rides on a private jet and sleeping in great hotels while promoting this movie, so that's been great! But my life is pretty much the same."

Q: Up until last December, you were living with 'Help' director Tate Taylor, who had you in mind for this part from the get go. Tell me about your friendship with him.

A: "Tate and I met in 1995 when we were both lowly production assistants on "A Time to Kill," the Sandra Bullock film that Joel Schumacher directed. We've been inseparable ever since. We decided to live together and when Tate bought a house in L.A., I thought if I'm going help anyone pay their mortgage, it would have to be my best friend. We've surrounded ourselves with a wonderful group of friends and that's how it's been for the last 16 years."

Q: How did you go from being a P.A. to an actor?   Continued...