Octavia L. Spencer (born May 25, 1970) is an American actress. She is perhaps best known for her role on Ugly Betty as Constance Grady, the INS Agent turned stalker of Betty's father, Ignacio Suarez and in the 2011 movie The Help as Minny.
Born in Montgomery, Alabama, she is the sixth of seven children. She attended Auburn University and received a bachelor's degree in Liberal Arts.
Spencer made her film debut as a nurse in Joel Schumacher's A Time to Kill based on the book by John Grisham. She was originally hired to work on casting, but asked Schumacher if she could audition for a small part. Other film credits include: Never Been Kissed, Big Momma's House, Bad Santa, Spider-Man, Coach Carter, Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! and Pretty Ugly People. She has made a number of guest appearances on a myriad of hit series including: Raising the Bar, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, The Big Bang Theory, Wizards of Waverly Place, NYPD Blue, Grounded for Life, ER, Titus, Becker and Dharma & Greg. However, she is best known for her starring roles as Serenity Johnson on Comedy Central's Halfway Home, and Constance Grady, the amorous INS caseworker on Ugly Betty.
In 2003, she made her stage debut in Los Angeles, in Del Shores' award-winning play, "The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife," starring opposite veteran actress Beth Grant. It was her first and only play, as she told Back Stage Magazine that she suffers from "stage fright." Later that year, she starred opposite Emmy Award-winner Allison Janney in Tate Taylor's critically lauded and award-winning short feature, "Chicken Party."
In 2008, Spencer's brief appearance in Seven Pounds as Kate, Rosario Dawson's home care nurse, garnered her high praise and media attention.
In April 2009, Entertainment Weekly listed Spencer in its list of 25 Funniest Actresses in Hollywood.
In August 2009, Spencer appeared in Rob Zombie's Halloween II. She will also have a role in the American remake of the Danish classic Love at First Hiccup opposite Scout Taylor-Compton. Spencer stars in the hit web series-turned feature film Herpes Boy alongside Beth Grant, Ahna O'Reilly, and Byron Lane; and, can be heard as the voice of "Minny" on the audio version of The Help, the award-winning "New York Times Best Seller" by Kathryn Stockett. Later that year, Spencer's short film The Captain was honored by the CICFF as a finalist for the coveted REEL Poetry Award.
In August 2011, Spencer joined Viola Davis, Emma Stone and Bryce Dallas Howard in DreamWorks' production of The Help. She played the fiesty and unflappable domestic, "Minny Jackson." The film was directed by Tate Taylor, and produced by Brunson Green, Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan, and Mark Radcliffe. Her role garnered her critical acclaim, and has started buzz for various awards nominations.