Fresh off her second Oscar nomination, Octavia Spencer has been named Harvard University's 2017 Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year.
The annual recognition goes to a person who has made a lasting contribution to the world of entertainment. Instead of a trophy, recipients are presented with a gold pudding pot before being paraded through the streets of Cambridge, Mass. with an entourage of comically dressed students who are part of the Hasty Pudding Theatricals.
"That pot was hard to get," the 46-year-old actress joked of being this year's honouree. "It was difficult to get, but it was one that will be forever indelibly etched in my memories. This has just been so much fun today."
She continued: "[It] really touches my heart [that people think I'm an inspiration] because I have the luxury now of getting to choose... the characters that I play... One of the things that I like to do is choose movies... that will allow for a little escapism but also educate while entertaining, and I think Hidden Figures does that on so many levels."
She went on to discuss several things in her acceptance speech, including politics and current affairs. “We have a new president, and I’m waiting for him to demonstrate that he will be president of all of us," she noted.
She added that she's hoping Donald Trump's closest confidant Kellyanne Conway begins to speak up for women. “She’s a woman and she needs to understand why women are speaking out in fear of some of the rights we’ve already litigated being revisited.”
The actress also got candid about her experience as a person of colour in Hollywood. In the film she plays one of three black women who helped send the first man into outer space.
“It’s a long haul. It took me 15 years to become an overnight success,” Octavia noted. “Know that you have to buy a good pair of sneakers and train. If you stay in the game long enough, you will win. You will win a race.”
The 67th recipient of the award continued by speaking about her future goals. “[I’d like to be] a woman behind the scenes who creates roles for diversity in film; and when I say diversity, I mean I want to see women of all shapes and sizes,” she noted. “It’s about creating a landscape that demonstrates what our society is as a whole. Homogeneity is not conducive to what we see around us, so my job as a producer is to have inclusion.”
Other celebs who have received the Hasty Pudding award, include Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Amy Poehler and Julie Andrews.