She might take home the gold statue at the Oscars next month, but for now, Octavia Spencer has a gold pot of pudding to hold her over.
The Hidden Figures star, 46, headed to Harvard University on Thursday to receive the 2017 Hasty Pudding Award from the Hasty Pudding Theatricals, the university’s prominent theater group.
Spencer was paraded through the streets of Cambridge, accompanied by Harvard students in drag, then feted at a no-holds-barred roast by the theater company.
While the actors poked fun at her various movie roles, and got her to sing a duet to the James Brown song “I Feel Good,” the highlight of the roast came when she was asked to channel her character from 2011’s “The Help’’ — for which she won an Oscar — and feed one of three characters on stage a mock poop pie. She chose to feed it to an actor portraying Donald Trump’s key counselor, Kellyanne Conway.
When asked after the ceremony why she chose Conway’s character — to whom she was coaxed to say “Kellyanne Conway, eat my s—,” — Spencer said. “It was in the moment.”
“We have a new president, and I’m waiting for him to demonstrate that he will be president of all of us of these United States, so in that moment of levity, I enjoyed giving her the pie,” Spencer, 46, said candidly. “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.”
Answering a question about legendary actress Mary Tyler Moore, who died Wednesday, Spencer said she “changed the face of how we view women and how we view independent women.”
“It’s definitely a loss for the entertainment community, as well as the public at large, because she shaped a generation of independence and she will definitely be missed,” she said.
And what advice would she give to young, African-American women who want to become actors?
“It’s a long haul. It took me 15 years to become an overnight success,” Spencer said. “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.”
While she loves acting, Spencer said Thursday that her “dream role” would be that of a producer.
“[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,” Spencer said. “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.”
When congratulated on her second Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actress, Spencer was gracious, saying “thank you,” but adding, “I’m not going to win. Viola Davis is going to win.”
In addition to Spencer and Davis, the Best Supporting Actress contenders are Naomie Harris for “Moonlight,” Nicole Kidman for “Lion,” and Michelle Williams for “Manchester by the Sea.”
Spencer, who was the 67th recipient of Harvard’s Woman of the Year pudding pot, said she is going to put the trophy on a shelf with its “cousins,” her other acting trophies. She joins stars like Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Kerry Washington, Debbie Reynolds and more in snagging the title.