Three years after winning the 2012 Best Supporting Actress Oscar for The Help, Octavia Spencer may finally have found the kind of cinematic starring role worthy of her talents.
Last summer, Spencer spoke out against the lack of diversity in Hollywood, especially for actresses past a certain age. “The roles I’m being offered in film are too small to sink your teeth into,” she said, “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.”
Those were her high hopes for Fox’s short-lived drama Red Band Society, which aired its final episode last December. But Spencer may get the chance to play a fully-fleshed character after all in Seacole, a biopic of Mary Seacole, a 19th-century war nurse born in Jamaica who traveled to Panama, Crimea, and the UK to tend to the sick and the injured. Her inspiration was Florence Nightingale, whom she met during the Crimean War. In 1857, Seacole published an autobiography, Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands, in which she detailed her travels, humanitarian efforts, and battles against prejudice.
“Mary Seacole was a dynamic, complex, and charming woman,” commented producer Brunson Green, who also worked on The Help. “Knowing Octavia and her immense talent, there is no one better to embody this impressive and courageous historical figure.”