Octavia Spencer Tells Stories, Talks Oscars

BET.com interviews The Help frontrunner, Coby Bell and other stars at USA Network event.

Posted: 02/17/2012 07:46 AM EST
Octavia Spencer, The Game, Coby Bell, John Legend, The Help

Octavia Spencer already collected two major trophies for her portrayal of Minny in The Help and will likely add an NAACP Award and an Oscar to her Golden Globe and SAG wins. But on Thursday night, she took a break from the hoopla to take part in a USA Network “Characters Unite” event with the nonprofit storytelling organization The Moth titled “A More Perfect Union: Stories of Prejudice and Power,” sharing personal reminiscences of her Southern upbringing and her experiences making The Help.


Spencer spoke to BET.com about the whirlwind she’s currently experiencing. “I honestly haven’t had a chance to process it emotionally. I think that will happen closer to when things settle down this summer and I can look back at it. Right now it’s all pretty exciting,” she said, thrilled that The Help got “nominations across the board” from the NAACP and, of course, excited about the Oscars. She’ll be wearing one of three designers — David Meister, Adrianna Papell or Tadashi Shoji — but not sure about jewelry. “I don’t know if I want to wear million dollar anything because I don’t want to lose it and have to pay for it!” she confided. Do the accolades put pressure on her next project choice? “No,” she said. “I’m thrilled that I got this opportunity and that it’s opening doors. I’m thrilled that the phone is ringing.”


Earlier, on the red carpet, Coby Bell discussed the “good problem” of having roles in two television shows, The Game and Burn Notice. “Burn Notice is in Miami and The Game is in Atlanta and my family is in L.A., so I’m flying all over the place,” he said, comparing the gigs. “My character on The Game is such a jerk. He can say anything and get away with it so it’s a lot of fun. Burn Notice is great because it has a little bit of everything — drama, action and some comedy as well.” Right now he’s on a break from both and spending time with his two sets of twins, ages eight and four; the elder two are already showing signs of inheriting the acting gene.


“It’s important to start a dialogue about racism and homophobia and sexism, things that are in our society. The only way to get ourselves out of it is to start talking about it and share personal stories,” said Mehcad Brooks, explaining why he wanted to attend the event. On his hiatus from his series Necessary Roughness, Brooks vacationed in Jamaica, shot episodes of Law & Order: SVU and Alcatraz and started a production company to develop projects for film and television. He also became a mentor to an urban garden at a middle school in Altadena, California.


Suits star Gina Torres wore a black Victoria Beckham dress and a soft cast and sling on her left arm due to surgery on a torn rotator cuff. “All those years of action finally caught up with me,” she explained. She spent her hiatus “concentrating on being a mommy and a wife,” said the actress, who’s married to Laurence Fishburne. She got ready for the event with the help of  “a team of women,” and noted, “You never want to try something new at the last minute. You want to feel like yourself on a really good day.” Her secret weapon? Twinlab Na-PCA moisturizing spray. “It keeps your skin hydrated.”


Marsha Thomason wouldn’t divulge details about the midseason White Collar cliffhanger that will air in two weeks, but loves playing a character “who takes no crap from anyone.” Stylish in a black Reformation jumpsuit, she revealed her fashion and beauty icons, Audrey Hepburn, Josephine Baker and Diahann Carroll, and her method for getting through the “horrifying” photo portion of the red carpet — “Always suck in your stomach,” Thomason said.


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 (Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

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