* First Oscar for Spencer
* Domestic workers say Oscar is a win for all maids
By Jill Serjeant
LOS ANGELES, Feb 26 An emotional Octavia
Spencer won her first Oscar on Sunday for her supporting actress
role as a sassy maid in "The Help."
Spencer, 39, was considered the favorite to win the Academy
Award for playing an outspoken maid in the 1960s drama about
African-Americans who work for rich white families in
Mississippi in the early years of the civil rights era.
Spencer, whose mother was a maid and who had never been
nominated before for an Academy Award, got a long standing
ovation from the audience as she nervously walked to the stage
to accept her award.
"Thank you Academy for putting me with the hottest guy in
the room," she said, referring to the golden Oscar statuette.
Fighting back tears and thanking her family and fellow cast
members, she said, "I'm wrapping up, I'm sorry, I am freaking
out. Thank you world."
Spencer's night however was slightly dampened by the loss
for fellow "The Help" actress Viola Davis, who was beaten on
Sunday in the lead actress race by Meryl Streep for "The Iron
But a national domestic workers group said Spencer's win was
a "profound victory" for maids everywhere.
"We thank her for lifting up the stories of domestic workers
and the dignity of the work," National Domestic Workers Alliance
co-founder Ai-jen Poo said in a statement.
Known to television audiences for her role on the sitcom
"Ugly Betty," Spencer grew up in a family of seven children
whose mother worked as a maid.
Spencer's film career was dominated in the previous decade
by small parts in films such as "Legally Blonde 2,"
"Spider-Man," "Bad Santa" and "Beauty Shop."
But her career took a dramatic turn when she joined the cast
of "The Help," a tale of a white writer who persuades black
maids in the U.S. deep South to tell their stories.
Spencer played Minny Jackson, a woman who refuses to be
cowed and who wreaks revenge on a cruel white employer by
serving up a disgusting pie.
The film was adapted from the best-selling Kathryn Stockett
novel of the same name and became a cultural touchstone and box
office sensation, grossing more than $200 million at the global
Spencer told reporters backstage that she was a benefactor
of all of the advances made by real life African-Americans since
the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
"I'm very humbled because I get to stand here and accept
this award and I haven't really done anything," she said.
"I hope it's a hallmark of more for young aspiring actresses
of color. I hope that in some way I can be some kind of beacon
of hope, especially because I am not the typical Hollywood
beauty," she added.