Octavia Spencer has shown she has a great skill for acting with roles in “The Help,” “Fruitvale Station” and “Black or White.” Her next role is playing God in the feature film “The Shack,” scheduled to open March 3. Her performance as Dorothy Vaughn in “Hidden Figures” has earned her an Oscar nomination.
She’s also found great success in the literary world with her series of children’s books featuring the character of Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective.
Spencer’s proven herself in the acting and writing worlds but she wants people to know she does have problems in other areas.
“I can’t do math,” Spencer says during an interview for “The Shack.”
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The reason the public assumes she’s a whiz with numbers is “Hidden Figures.” The film, based on a true story, looks at three black women who become major contributors to the space program in the ‘60s. Despite the misconception, Spencer is proud to be part of “Hidden Figures” because it puts a spotlight on the women that they deserve.
“To be recognized by the Golden Globes, SAG and now the Academy for this role is humbling. I am playing a woman who in her lifetime made these contributions to science, technology and math. And she went unheralded for it,” Spencer says. “For me, it’s coming full circle for her and her family. I’m appreciative of that.”
Spencer’s wish is that young girls who see the movie will realize that they can do great things and make their dreams come true.
One thing Spencer has made clear is that she should never be mistaken for a mathematician. The Auburn University graduate got her degree in Liberal Arts. She does expect to be linked to Vaughn for the rest of her life, but that is not a problem for Spencer.
Math’s not the only weakness for Spencer. After the success of “The Help,” everyone assumed Spencer was a good cook. It seems her cooking skills are as good as her math abilities.
It’s often an interesting story as to how producers find the right actors for their projects. In some cases, it’s the first person to audition. In other cases, it can take months of looking at talent.
The search to find the right actor for the new Freeform series, “Beyond,” was one of those cases of a difficult job of casting. Whoever was selected to play a young man who wakes up from a 12-year coma to discover he has new abilities would have to get across being a fish out of water in very subtle ways.
That task has fallen to Burkely Duffield.
Executive producer Adam Nussdorf says, “He also had to be able to emote, without speaking. I think one of the things I’m most proud of and I was most excited about when Burkely read, was that he did convey so much with just a little subtle movement of his eyes, or just something very nonverbal, and it allowed the audience to really identify with him.
“First and foremost, though, the audience had to feel empathy for Holden. They had to feel like he was a real person, with these real struggles. And at no point did it seem like Burkely was an actor portraying a role. It seemed like I was watching Holden.”
Duffield has been a working professional for 10 years but mostly in smaller roles. Nothing has been as big as taking on the starring role in “Beyond.” Not only does he have to get across the emotions in a scene, Duffield is often working against a green screen used for special effects.
He’s not had a problem, because the Canadian actor says that acting is a lot about imagination and creating. He’s just happy that he’s been given the chance to play such a big role after a slow – but steady – career trajectory.
“I’ve started doing a lot of different stuff. I’ve done extra work. I’ve done commercials. I’ve done background work. I’ve done supporting roles. I’ve done lead roles,” Duffield says. “I think my progression through the industry is something that’s consistently changing.
“I think every role is different and to be able to land a role as you see on screen, ‘Beyond’ is an absolute dream come true. For me, it’s another step on my journey as an actor, and it’s amazing.”
Keep digging: REELZ has renewed the original documentary series “National Enquirer Investigates” for a second season. New episodes begin 6 p.m. April 12 and will kick off with the story of country legend Dolly Parton’s meteoric rise to fame while fighting to keep her personal life away from the spotlight.
Coming back: The fourth season of Amazon’s Emmy-nominated, Gold Parents’ Choice Award-winning original kids series, “Annedroids,” is scheduled to debut March 3 on Prime Video. It’s a live-action adventure series that follows Anne, a young female scientist, and her human friends, along with the android assistants she’s created, as they make amazing scientific discoveries while undertaking the biggest experiment of them all: growing up.