Of the actresses receiving the most attention for The Help, I'd say that Octavia Spencer is maybe the one actress whose career has gotten the most significant jolt.
Viola Davis was already a name many were familiar with – certainly much more than we all were of Spencer – and even though her immediate future suddenly seems brighter, prior to The Help, Viola was much closer than Octavia has ever been to what I'd call *celebrity.* We now know the name and face very well; and she even won one of the industry's top honors (the Golden Globe) while her co-star, the higher-profiled actress, lost to her main competition.
We'll see what happens when the Oscar nominees are announced soon.
But Octavia has gained the most I'd say, and whether all this newfound fame translates to career longevity, or more specifically, roles for her to choose from, well, we'll see.
Although she certainly doesn't seem to think so, telling the LA Times in THIS profile posted earlier today that, "The studios are still not going to beat down my door unless it's a small part in a big comedy, and I've done those."
The piece goes further to state that all the acclaim and attention she's recieved for her performance in The Help "hadn't changed her career much."
Not that we haven't seen this before; in comparison… most recently… it's been almost 5 years since Jennifer Hudson won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role in Dreamgirls; and for her next project she'll be playing a peripheral role as a singing nun in the horrible-looking big screen adaptation of The Three Stooges. She hasn't done much between the former and the latter film.
I wonder if it's a case of her NOT being offered work, or if she's just not making the effort, consumed with other things like family, weight loss book, singing, etc.
Regardless, the jury is apparently still out on Octavia Spencer; last fall, she booked a starring role in Diablo Cody's untitled directorial debut; and looking over her IMDB page, I'd say that's the highest profile project on the horizon for her.
Other than that, she has a supporting role in a Sundance 2012 feature titled Smashed, and roles in 2 indie features said to be in post-production; she's really the highest profile name in all of them, thanks to the exposure she's received from The Help, which may actually help those 3 films when they're released into the marketplace.
The title of the LA Times piece is "I'm Done With The Bad Parts," as a quote from Octavia, suggesting that she's ready to diversify her acting portfolio with roles that are varied and very different from those she's been essentially typecast in until now.
It ends like this:
Indeed, at 39, Spencer has spent too much time in split-second appearances as "troubled woman" and "bank co-worker" in mainstream Hollywood movies. Part of that is a function of the dearth of leading roles for black women; part of it a function of her choosiness.
"If you build it, they will come, and that's what I'm doing, one brick at a time," she said on the "Smashed" set. "That's what this movie is. I get to play somewhat different than who I usually am."
Smashed wasn't a film on my "to-see" list at Sundance, but now that I'm aware of it, and that she's in it, I'll make an effort to see it.