February 8th, 2012
10:12 AM ET

Octavia Spencer: Media should reflect multicultural world

Hate it or love it, Octavia Spencer's film "The Help" has at the very least sparked healthy amounts of dialogue about race and diversity in Hollywood.

Spencer, who portrays a maid living in the segregated South in the '60s-era movie, tells CNN that in order to see a greater amount of diversity in cinema, we as moviegoers need to buy tickets to films that reflect such casting.

"I think Hollywood basically gives people what they think people want," the best supporting actress Oscar nominee said.

"And what they think the people want is what people pay money to see. We can’t really blame it all on Hollywood when the majority of the movies that are getting the big dollars are the ones that are blockbuster films," she continued. "So if we want more films with diversity like 'A Better Life,' like 'The Help,' then we have to support those films. We just have to! We have to go support 'Red Tails,' we have to support 'Pariah.'"

Spencer's also hopeful that her successful turn in "The Help" will open doors for more actors of color.

"I just hope to keep being on screen, because the more they see me, the more they will start asking for people like me," she said. "They will, hopefully, continue to employ young women like me. Or older. So I just think being visible helps our cause."

And, by the way, she notes - "actors of color" doesn't solely refer to African Americans.

Her visibility not only "gives more women a shot," but it does the same for actors of all races, she says. "I think people mistakenly think when we say 'of color' that we mean only black. 'Of color' is Latina, 'of color' is Asian, 'of color' is Indian/Native American. We live in a very multifaceted, multicultural world, and that needs to be represented in our media as well."

soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. jimmer

    "RIGHT....because 200+ years of slavery and a 100 year of segregation is not an oppression at all. LMAO"

    And 50 years of equality with zip to show for it.

    February 9, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • justsaying

      "And 50 years of equality with zip to show for it."

      Ha – on what planet do you live? "50 years of equality"? First of all, it's been less than 50 years – and even then, only on paper.

      Blacks were technically 'freed' and given their rights and equality when slavery ended – in 1865. One hundred years later, it was necessary to have the Civil Rights movement. Why? Because whites could not move past slavery, and were determined to keep blacks in servitude.

      And, the road to Civil Rights was paved in blood, murder, dehumanization and degradation. It wasn't just some peaceful handover of black equality and rights. In the same way that many whites couldn't move past slavery to give blacks true equality 100 years after emancipation (even though it was the law), there are countless whites today who still can't mature enough to give blacks true equality less than 50 years after Civil Rights.

      So, please don't sit here on your soapbox preaching about how blacks have had equality for 50 years and done nothing with it. In reality, just like after Emancipation, that equality only exists on paper – until people are willing to change their hearts, advance their minds and mature.

      February 9, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Frank

    You want to know what people of color have REALLY been oppressed? As in actually oppressed? As in basically wiped out?

    Look up 'Native American'.

    February 9, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |

      RIGHT....because 200+ years of slavery and a 100 year of segregation is not an oppression at all. LMAO

      February 9, 2012 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |

      RIGHT....because 200+ years of slavery and a 100 year of segregation is not an oppression at all. LMAO...

      February 9, 2012 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • justsaying

      Actually, Frank, what happened to the Native Americans goes beyond oppression – that was straight genocide. In fact, it's the largest genocide in human history.

      For example, euring the Holocaust, 6 million Jews were slaughtered. In comparison: the Native Americans? Closer to 60 MILLION were wiped out. There has never been a genocide of that magnitude in mankind's history. What makes what was done to them so sad is that no only were they basically wiped off the map, the few that remained were beyond oppressed – they were (and still are) ignored, neglected, and dejected. There are no words for the injustice the Native Americans have suffered.

      In the case of blacks, they would've been genocided, if they didn't serve a purpose for the founding fathers and the citizens of that time. Native Americans were enslaved, too, but could not withstand the physical and emotional toll. They died very quickly from the strain.

      Unfortunately, for blacks, they were the one race that could survive the abuse and horrors of slavery. You've got to remember – slavery was a business – and Africa was not the most convenient place to which a nation's ships could travel. It was costly. It was a hard trip. It was time-consuming.

      All races along the way to Africa were enslaved first around the world (including people from India and China) – and not only in America. It was in the West Indies, South America and Europe, as well.

      When these other groups couldn't survive the hardship of slavery, they were converted into indentured servants, and African slaves entered the picture. When it was discovered how much these Africans could endure, slavery reached the deplorable depths by which it's known today.

      In this way, the blacks were actually the more oppressed race – simply by virtue of survival. The Native Americans couldn't be oppressed as terribly, for the plain and simple fact that they were no longer there to oppress (due to genocide). If the blacks had been wiped out in like fashion, they also would not have wound up being so oppressed, simply by virtue of no longer existing.

      The whole sordid history is just disgusting and a cause for shame.

      February 9, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Black Rat

    Race has always mattered and always will matter, it is a tool that america will use until the end of time!! What is amazing is that racism seems to shock some black people or some blacks really believe there aint nomore racism.Now that is whats crazy!

    February 8, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Raq

    Wow! Once again someone spoutting off about something that, that person hasn't a clue about. When we can change the color of our skin to learn what another race may go through. Then & only then should we talk about How tired we are of hearing another races complaints. All of us have complaints whether anyones listening or not.

    February 8, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Maria

    I am so sick and tired of hear black people talk about racism....Hollywood is not racist ,look at Ice Cube Snoog Dog,and many others ,and all the rappers multimillionaires,in shows ,movies etc etc. look at the Kardashians marrying the black rich dudes because they are celebrities...why this woman is talking about acceptance? stop and enjoy your opportunity in life,now you will be in movies directed by white people so good luck and shut up!

    February 8, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • humberto

      No, people are racists, but who else is going to play a black maid in the segrated south, Al Jolson ?

      February 8, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • cBlack


      February 9, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  6. humberto

    Was the movie that bad you had to put
    more color in it ?

    February 8, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Teresa

    I loved the movvhe the help and the book i think we nef more mouies like that i would spend my money to see i plan to try to see red tails at the movies next week

    February 8, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Aunt Peg

    If I owned a convenience store and she walked in, I would assume she was going to rob me.

    February 8, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Raq

    Thanks Mike, You just proved my point.

    February 8, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Raq

    Did the ones that thought what they said was true or funny actually read what was said? Obviously not or otherwise, l wouldn't be shaking my head in disbelief at your ignorance. So Sad!!!

    February 8, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mike lautenbach

    angry black people who are consumed with raciality are as annoying and insufferable as angry white people who are consumed with raciality.

    February 8, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mike lautenbach

    As long as we are bickering amongst ourselves about how we look, how we smell, and whose brain is bigger, no time is left to take a look around and inhale the stench that is american despair.

    February 8, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mike lautenbach

    Race is an ingenous and tactical population control device of this goverment and its corporate backers.

    February 8, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Steven

    I have a better idea: stop dichotomizing and compartmentalizing people into races and instead start viewing them as human beings, not colors.

    February 8, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kramer

      Well if you did that then Chris Rock wouldn't have any material...

      February 8, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Shequiqui

    No. What the media should do is end the practice of having the black person in authority or smart with the dumb white guy. I'm so tired of seeing this in commercial after commercial.

    Oh and hey, here's a newsflash – there are other races besides black and white. You want to accurately reflect the state of the nation? Then instead of black people in commercials, have Hispanic people!

    February 8, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Billy


    February 8, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Report abuse |
  17. LoJenk


    February 8, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  18. grandmotherdee

    anyone of color is black!

    February 8, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  19. ninja kid

    too cool !

    February 8, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  20. pegleg D

    Ninja's are in almost every movie. . . But because they are Ninjas you can't see them.

    February 8, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
  21. ninja kid

    Im a ninja. I dont feel represented either.

    February 8, 2012 at 10:22 am | Report abuse |

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