Octavia Spencer

Possessing the talent to make even the most minor of roles memorable, Octavia Spencer became a fixture early on, on both the small and big screens, in supporting roles that called for either a caring nurse or a mouthy blue-collar worker. After making her feature film debut in the crime drama "A Time to Kill" (1996), Spencer went on to appear on such popular programs as "Chicago Hope" (CBS, 1994-2000), "The X-Files" (Fox, 1993-2002), and the hit comedy "Ugly Betty" (ABC, 2006-2010). Spencer's perfect timing and natural sass also helped her land roles in feature comedies such as "Big Momma's House" (2000) and "Beauty Shop" (2005), as well as a breakout role on Comedy Central's "Halfway Home" (2007), appearing as a loudmouthed ex-con who is always picking fights with her housemates. After many years of paying her dues as background or supporting players, Spencer garnered much-deserved praise and an Oscar for her glowing performance in "The Help" (2011), based on Kathryn Stockett's best-selling novel of the same name. She was pitch-perfect as Minny Jackson, a determined and sharp-tongued maid who secretly helps an aspiring writer accurately chronicle the lives of African-American domestics in racially-charged 1960s Mississippi. The high-profile role finally thrust Spencer's talents into the forefront, earning her recognition as a truly multifaceted actress. Roles in films ranging from true-life tale of violence "Fruitvale Station" (2013) to dystopian science-fiction thriller "Snowpiercer" (2013) to animated smash "Zootopia" (2016) followed, as well as a second Oscar nomination for her supporting role in the biopic "Hidden Figures" (2016), highlighting a trio of African-American women whose work helped NASA win the Cold War space race.