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Octavia Spencer Faced a Hard Fight to Gain Traction in Hollywood

Octavia Spencer never believed she would be in front of the camera. Instead, she always saw herself as a producer.

Her award-winning performances in movies such as “The Help,” “Hidden Figures” and “The Shape of Water” helped Spencer, recipient of the Visionary Award at the PGA Awards this year, to do both. But getting traction in Hollywood wasn’t easy for the Alabama-bred multihyphenate.

“It took me 15 years to become an overnight success,” says Spencer, who appeared in films including “Never Been Kissed” and “Coach Carter” earlier in her career. “That’s the case for the majority of people. It took a little time, a lot of relationships. Building relationships with the people I worked with. I don’t take it for granted.

“I’ve always been a big dreamer. If you don’t dream big and you don’t see yourself where you want to be, it’s hard to put yourself there.”

Spencer first gained recognition as a producer with Ryan Coogler’s “Fruitvale Station,” and has since produced films and TV series including 2018’s “Green Book,” starring Mahershala Ali — Spencer received an executive producer credit for the Oscar best picture winner — as well as Apple TV Plus’ “Truth Be Told” and Netflix’s “Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker.”

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“What pushes me is what pushes me as an actor,” says Spencer, whose production company Orit Entertainment is managed in partnership with her former WME agent and partner Brian Clisham.

“It’s passion. It’s a part of who I am, it’s in my DNA. Content is very important. People want to be entertained. We have to remember to allow for escapism — especially in these dark times,” she says. “I’m excited about the prospect of getting to continue to do what I love.”

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