Octavia Spencer wins supporting actress Oscar for "The Help"

Mon Feb 27, 2012 1:10am EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - An emotional Octavia Spencer won her first Oscar on Sunday for her supporting actress role as a sassy maid in "The Help."

Spencer, 39, was considered the favorite to win the Academy Award for playing an outspoken maid in the 1960s drama about African-Americans who work for rich white families in Mississippi in the early years of the civil rights era.

Spencer, whose mother was a maid and who had never been nominated before for an Academy Award, got a long standing ovation from the audience as she nervously walked to the stage to accept her award.

"Thank you Academy for putting me with the hottest guy in the room," she said, referring to the golden Oscar statuette.

Fighting back tears and thanking her family and fellow cast members, she said, "I'm wrapping up, I'm sorry, I am freaking out. Thank you world."

Spencer's night however was slightly dampened by the loss for fellow "The Help" actress Viola Davis, who was beaten on Sunday in the lead actress race by Meryl Streep for "The Iron Lady."

But a national domestic workers group said Spencer's win was a "profound victory" for maids everywhere.

"We thank her for lifting up the stories of domestic workers and the dignity of the work," National Domestic Workers Alliance co-founder Ai-jen Poo said in a statement.   Continued...

Octavia Spencer, best supporting actress nominee for her role in "The Help," arrives at the 84th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California, February 26, 2012.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson