Octavia Spencer On Minorities Struggling In Hollywood
Recent reports from The Gardian illuminates Academy award winner, Octavia Spencer’s thoughts on the disparaging gap of minorities in the film world.
Octavia Spencer has said she struggled to win leading roles in Hollywood after securing an Oscar for race drama The Help in 2012. The 44-year-old star also told The Beast that black and ethnic-minority actors often found it difficult to win high-profile parts on the big screen.
Spencer, who has since made the shift to television in search of starring roles, said she found herself constantly offered supporting parts despite her status as an Oscar winner. The actor will play Nurse Jackson, matron of a hospital ward for sick teenagers, in the drama Red Band Society on the US Fox network this Autumn.
“The roles I’m being offered in film are too small to sink your teeth into, and I thought it was time to be able to live with a character at inception and travel with her to fruition, and allow myself to evolve as an actress,” said Spencer of her decision to move to the small screen. “I don’t get that opportunity in movies, where they ask me, ‘Will you play the distraught mom of this boy?’ I say, ‘Sure, but I’ve played it before.'”
Asked if she felt black actors in particular struggled to find acceptance from film studios, Spencer suggested all ethnic minorities found the going tough on the big screen.
“There are so few roles out there,” she said. “And even if it is a film that could be led by a black actress, how many times is that film going to get funded? Let’s just be real.
“But it’s not just black people. It’s Asians, it’s Hispanic people if you’re not Salma Hayek. It’s hard. It’s hard to get films funded. It’s a business thing, and you have to change the mindset of people around here.”
Spencer went on to praise blockbuster superhero movies such as Thor, Captain America: The Winter Soldier and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 for boasting diverse casts. But she said television remained “light years ahead”.
“Little kids need to be able to turn on the TV and see real-world representations of themselves,” she said. “It’s very important. You need that representation.” Spencer said she would like to see decisions based on “the best actor for the part”, adding: “Who cares if the lead is an Asian male? If this is the best actor for that role, why does the role have to be indicative of a person’s ethnicity?”
Spencer won the Oscar for best supporting actress in 2012 for her role as Minny Jackson, an African-American maid working for a white employer in Tate Taylor’s 60s-set civil-rights drama.