Watch the Jess Cagle Interview, sponsored by Ford.
Octavia Spencer is proud of her roots.
Although Spencer lost her mother, Dellsena, when she was just 18, the actress says she is still her biggest inspiration to this day.
“The woman who has inspired the most is my mother. I am a product of her disadvantages in life, and she tried to make sure that we took advantage of all of the opportunities that were afforded to us,” she tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue.
The actress says her mother taught her to be practical, grounded and hardworking from an early age.
“We had more than she did, and a lot less than a lot of people, even to this day,” she says. “So she is the one woman that I credit everything to.”
And when Spencer finds herself in need of some advice, the actress knows just who to turn to.
“It depends on how big the problem, but I usually go to family first,” she says. “And, you know, my closest girlfriends, especially if it’s men problem.”
The star has had a busy few months promoting her latest film The Shape of Water, which nabbed an impressive 13 Oscar nominations, including Best Supporting Actress for Spencer. She is now tied with Viola Davis for most nominated black actress of all time with three Oscar nods.
- For more about Spencer, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, now on newsstands.
Joking about what she’s usually thinking when a camera pans to her during an award, Spencer said, “How much longer in this underwear? Jesus, how much longer?”
But even after walking down countless red carpets, Spencer admits that she still gets anxiety before stepping out in front of the cameras.
“I have anxiety, carpet anxiety,” she says. “I get nervous with a lot of people. I have to have pads, ’cause I sweat so much. It’s all nervous energy.”
The 2018 Oscars ceremony will be held at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center on March 4 and will be televised live on ABC at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.