Octavia Spencer, Our November 2013 Woman of Interest

The Oscar-winning actress opens up about weight loss, new ventures and searching for her prince

by David Hutchings
octavia spencer image
Photograph: © Patrick Fraser/Corbis Outline

The 2012 Oscar winner (for The Help) now stars in writer-director Diablo Cody’s Paradise.
Diablo is a fresh young voice, and I love her dark sense of humor.

Spencer just published her first YA novel, Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective: The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit.
I wanted to write something cool for kids. I’m kind of a kid myself, so that was part of it.

Undercover
Growing up, I loved reading Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown, so I decided to write a mystery. To make it interactive, I worked with a forensic expert. Kids can learn from the book how to lift fingerprints.

Passion project
Fruitvale Station [she costarred and co–executive produced] touched me deeply. It’s based on the true story of Oscar Grant, a young [unarmed] man who was killed by a transit cop. I have nephews who are young men of color, and I worry about what can happen to them. The film transcends race and anger; it’s about humanity. When I saw it, I cried.

On a roll
Right before I hit 40, I realized it was time to stop trying to please the world and to do what’s best for me. Then everything else would fall into place.

Body work
Inside, I think I’m a woman under construction, and I love that. I’m also working on the outside, and I’ve lost more than 20 pounds. Each decade it gets harder, but I feel empowered trying to get healthier.

Soul mate
The man I end up with needs to be intelligent, have a sense of humor and have his own thing going on. But what he needs most is a strong moral compass. So I’ll just go on kissing the frogs, hoping one turns out to be my prince.

Next: Cher, Our October 2013 Woman of Interest

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First published in the November 2013 issue

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